The Quarantine Question

How has the past year's quarantine affected your professional life?

As the Samuel H. Kress Institutional Fellow at the Warburg Institute in London, I enjoyed five months of the twenty-four-month fellowship before pandemic closures drastically impacted my dissertation research. Months without access to primary sources—punctuated by limited re-openings—forced me to adapt. Due to my interest in digital humanities, I pivoted toward professional development and learned new data visualization techniques as well as basic coding for web design. I then had the opportunity to employ those skills as the coordinator for digital engagement for the International Center of Medieval Art. In this position I organized virtual events with curators of major museums, arranged mentoring sessions for graduate students and emerging professionals, and taught workshops on digital humanities. While it was rewarding to create these spaces for online community, the inaccessibility of physical repositories hindered new dissertation research. Instead, I presented papers drawn from existing chapters at virtual conferences and incorporated feedback I received from my fellow participants, while charting out future sections to be written once access to resources resumes. I am grateful to have received an upcoming dissertation fellowship through the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts to complete this crucial fieldwork. This time has not been without its personal challenges and I want to acknowledge the losses experienced by many. I hope that our collective experience has emphasized the need for greater compassion in the humanities.

RHEAGAN ERIC MARTIN, PhD candidate in History of Art, University of Michigan