Dr. Julia Sienkewicz
5.11.2021
By Roanoke College News

Sienkewicz awarded prestigious Rome Prize

Dr. Julia Sienkewicz, associate professor of fine arts at Roanoke College, is a winner of the 2021-2022 Rome Prize, announced on April 23 by the American Academy in Rome (AAR).  

Sienkewicz, one of 35 artists and scholars to receive the 2021-22 prize, was awarded the Terra Foundation Fellowship, which provides support for a postdoctoral or senior scholar to conduct research on pre-1980 American art and visual culture. 

“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor,” Sienkewicz said. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the intellectual and artistic community at the American Academy in Rome. Without a doubt, this award will be transformative in the development of my book project because of the access it will provide to the city, collections, and archives of Rome. I am so excited to see how the research develops during my residence in Italy.” 

The fellowship is supported by the AAR, one of the premier research centers in the arts and humanities, and the Terra Foundation for American Art, a nonprofit dedicated to the support of American art exhibitions, projects and academic research.   

Nearly 900 applicants applied for this fellowship cycle of the prestigious Rome Prize; the acceptance rate was under 4%.  

“Without a doubt, this award will be transformative in the development of my book project because of the access it will provide to the city, collections, and archives of Rome.”

Dr. Julia Sienkewicz, associate professor of fine arts

Sienkewicz, an art historian, will work and study in Rome for six months in 2022. While in residence there, she will complete archival and museum research for her second book, “Forms of White Hegemony: Transnational Sculptors, Racialized Identity and the Torch of Civilization, 1836-1865.”   

The book focuses on one federal commission for sculpture to decorate the East Front of the U.S. Capitol, analyzing the work of three sculptors — Horatio Greenough, Luigi Persico, and Ferdinand Pettrich. The three met in Washington, D.C. and competed for the commission, which was eventually awarded to Greenough and Persico. The two sculptors produced two monumental sculpture groups known as “The Discovery of America” (Persico) and “The Rescue Group” (Greenough). Pettrich, who failed to receive the commission, instead began his “Indian Gallery” of sculptures, which he eventually presented to Pope Pius IX for permanent display in the Vatican collections.  

Being based in Rome will allow Sienkewicz to be fully immersed in research and writing, and to have privileged access to objects and collections in Italy.  

“While in Rome, I will be looking at sculptures in the collection of the Vatican Museum, materials related to the reunification period of Italy, and hopefully track down Luigi Persico’s activities in Naples and his studio there.”  

Sienkewicz’s first book, “Epic Landscapes: Benjamin Henry Latrobe and the Art of Watercolor,” published in 2019.