Robyn Barrow ’15 Selected for Highly Competitive National Gallery of Art Fellowship

head and shoulder image of Rhodes College alumna Robyn Barrow standing outside in front of a building

Rhodes College art history alumna Robyn Barrow ’15 has been selected as a recipient of the prestigious Paul Mellon Fellowship awarded by the National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study of the Visual Arts. She will begin the fellowship Fall 2022, spending two years doing fieldwork abroad before her residency in Washington, DC.

Awarded for 36 months, the fellowship is intended for the advancement and completion of a doctoral dissertation in European art and also to enable a candidate to reside abroad to develop expertise in a specific city, locality, or region related to the dissertation.
Barrow is a Ph.D. candidate in medieval art at the University of Pennsylvania, and her research interests include art in the medieval Nordic world and the ways materials create meaning in different networks of belief and ecological zones.

Her dissertation “Tracking North: Art, Ecology and Exchange in the Medieval Nordic World” contextualizes medieval works of art made from four circulating materials—gold, antler, timber, and arctic ivory—in their ecological and social contexts, and she argues that silenced narratives can be uncovered by centering objects in a network of relationality between materials, landscapes, and peoples of the Far North. Utilizing archaeology, the historical environment of the Arctic/Subarctic, and decolonial models, Barrow probes the symbiosis, destruction, competition, and transformation that entangled medieval Nordic art, communities, and landscapes.

Barrow has three peer-reviewed articles, including her second M.A. thesis, titled “Gunhild’s Cross and The North Atlantic Trade Sphere,” published in the major medieval studies journal The Medieval Globe (2021).

In addition, she recently completed a year in Iceland as a Fulbright-National Science Foundation Arctic Research Fellow. Her time in Iceland resulted in the completion of her dissertation chapter, “Olav’s Axe: Woodcarving and Structures of Power in Medieval Iceland and Norway,” which argues that power dynamics and settlement economics between medieval Norway and Iceland can be understood through an investigation of Norwegian forestry law, resource management, and timber scarcity on Iceland.

Originally from Little Rock, AR, Barrow received a master’s degree in medieval art from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Rhodes. While an undergraduate, she worked at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in the curatorial department.
Barrow says the mentorship she received during her time at Rhodes from Professors David McCarthy and Victor Coonin of the Department of Art and Art History and Dr. Sally Dormer of the European Studies program, paved the way for her achievements today. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the history of art training I had at Rhodes. It was the beginning of an amazing journey for me. My professors gave me all the tools I needed to start a successful career in the field. I hope I can similarly inspire students one day at an institution such as Rhodes.”  

To learn more about the Department of Art and Art History at Rhodes College, visit here.