West Virginia University art history professor Janet Snyder has won this year’s Award for Excellence in Scholarly Research from the Southeastern College Art Conference for her book “Early Gothic Column-Figure Sculpture in France: Appearance, Materials, and Significance,” published by Ashgate in 2011.

The award is given for outstanding research shown in the recent publication (within the last two years) of a book, article or series of articles. Dr. Snyder is head of the Art History program in the WVU School of Art & Design.

Richly illustrated with many of Snyder’s own photographs, “Early Gothic Column-Figure Sculpture in France” is a comprehensive investigation of church portal sculpture installed between the 1130s and the 1170s at more than 20 great churches.

Beginning at the Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis and extending around Paris from Provins in the east, south to Bourges and Dijon, and west to Chartres and Angers, larger than life-size statues of human figures were arranged along portal jambs, many carved wearing the dress of the highest ranks of French society.

Snyder’s study takes a close look at 12th-century human figure sculpture, describing represented clothing, defining the language of textiles and dress that would have been legible at the time, and investigating rationale and significance.

The concepts conveyed through these extraordinary visual documents and the possible motivations of the patrons of portal programs with column-figures are examined through contemporaneous historical, textual, and visual evidence in various media.

The book’s appendices include analysis of sculpture production and the transportation and fabrication in limestone from Paris.

Although many scholars have studied the column sculptures, Snyder’s new study considers how patrons used sculpture to express and shape perceived reality, employing images of textiles and clothing that had political, economic, and social significances.

One competition juror noted that Snyder’s use of a “language of dress” to explicate 12th century sculptural programs appears to be a new approach, and that the subject is presented in an engaging manner.

The Southeastern College Art Conference is a non-profit organization that promotes the study and practice of the visual arts in higher education on a national basis.

Founded in 1942 as a regional conference, today it is a national non-profit organization that facilitates cooperation and fosters ongoing dialogue about pertinent creative, scholarly and educational issues among teachers and administrators in universities, colleges, community colleges, professional art schools, and museums and the communities served by their institutions, as well as among independent artists and scholars.

Membership includes individuals and institutions from the original group of southeastern states that founded the conference: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Over the decades, however, the conference has grown to include individual and institutional members from across the United States, becoming the second largest national organization of its kind. The conference is an affiliated organization of the national College Art Association and participates in its annual conferences.

Snyder’s book is available from Ashgate Publishing online at www.ashgate.com.


CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
304-293-4359, Charlene.Lattea@mail.wvu.edu

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