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January 4, 1999

Art historian named to UCSC endowed chair, wins Getty award

By Barbara McKenna

A noted UCSC art historian has been named as the chairholder of the campus's recently established endowed chair in art history. Her first step will be to launch an ambitious collaborative program between the university and the largest art museum in Santa Cruz County.

Catherine M. Soussloff, a professor of art history, has been appointed chair of the Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in Art History. During her five-year appointment, Soussloff will put in place a program that includes collaboration with Santa Cruz's Museum of Art and History.

Catherine Soussloff

At the same time that Soussloff has been named chairholder, she has also, in an unrelated event, been named as a recipient of a prestigious Getty Fellowship for the 1999-2000 academic year. Twelve scholars from around the world are selected each year to hold the distinguished fellowship. Getty fellows work in residence at Los Angeles's Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities. Soussloff and her fellow scholars will work on their own academic projects and meet weekly to investigate the topic of "Humanities in Comparative, Historical Perspective." During her residency, Soussloff will continue to oversee the activities of the Rebele Chair.

As chairholder, Soussloff will put in place a program titled "Visual Cultures on the California Border." The five-year program will involve students, distinguished scholars-in-residence, UCSC faculty, and curators from the Museum of Art and History. Symposia, classes, public lectures, and an exhibition and production of a catalog are planned.

"It's important for art history students to have a connection to a museum," says Soussloff. "It's a practical relationship that many academic programs offer and I think we can be extremely competitive with those programs in collaboration with the dynamic arts community we have here in Santa Cruz."

The Rebele Chair was established in 1996 by Rowland "Reb" and Patricia "Pat" Rebele. Patricia Rebele graduated from UCSC as a re-entry student in 1988, earning a B.A. in art history. The donation stands as the largest alumni contribution in UCSC history.

"Both my husband and I think Cathy is a wonderful choice," said Patricia Rebele. "Cathy was a favorite teacher of mine when I was at UCSC and I think she's really doing her part to put UCSC on the map. Her concept is quite exciting and will provide a vital learning experience for students and be an asset to the museum as well."

According to Edward Houghton, dean of the arts at UCSC, "Professor Soussloff is recognized internationally as an outstanding scholar. We are very pleased that she has accepted this important appointment. Her vision for the chair brings together the rich resources of the downtown museum and the university in a very effective and imaginative way."

"The museum board and staff are delighted that Professor Soussloff has been awarded this position," said Charles Hilger, director of the Museum of Art and History. "This is a true collaborative event for the museum and the university, involving museum staff, Professor Soussloff, and students, and we're looking forward to a very fruitful five years. It's very appropriate that this project has been made possible by the Rebeles. Not only was Patricia Rebele a long-standing museum board member, but both have a strong commitment to supporting arts in the community."

Soussloff is the author of The Absolute Artist (1997; University of Minnesota Press), a historical study on the social perceptions of the artist in the European and American tradition from Renaissance to present. Her book Jewish Identity in Modern Art History is being released in January by UC Press. In 1996 Soussloff co-organized an international conference on art history in the age of Bellori at the American Academy in Rome. She received an A.B. and Ph.D. in art history from Bryn Mawr College.

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