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Kerin Awarded Howard Foundation Fellowship She is one of eight applicants to receive a $33,000 grant.

Melissa Kerin

Melissa Kerin, associate professor of art history at Washington and Lee, is a recipient of this year’s fellowship from the Howard Foundation. Kerin is one of eight applicants to receive a $33,000 grant.

“It’s a fabulous grant that gives the recipient freedom to conduct research wherever she needs to be,” said Kerin. “I’ll be able to use this support to live in Vienna, Austria, for the fall 2018 term to work with University of Vienna’s Tibetan Studies and South Asian studies interdisciplinary groups and resources. I’ll also travel to India and Nepal throughout the year to finish up some research there.”

For the last several years, Kerin has worked on her book “Bodies of Offerings: The Materiality and Vitality of Tibetan Shrines.” Kerin will document and analyze Buddhist shrines in the Tibetan cultural zone — Tibet, India and Nepal — which she believes to be complex constructions that respond to, and reflect, many socio-religious environs. If variations among shrines demonstrate dynamic engagement between a devotee and religious objects, then that might reveal new information about the popular religious practice.

“The whole project is, in many ways, a response to the limiting connoisseurship-driven studies that often direct scholarship in Tibetan art history,” said Kerin. “My hope is that my project will contribute to a developing trend in art history that investigates a broader scope of material culture.”

The Howard Foundation has a rotation of five art historical and critical studies topics, such as literary, history and film. The fellowships provide artists, scholars and writers with time to complete their work.