Nicole Dial-Kay’s Intellectual Profile

1. Give some basic information about your studies and fields of interest.

As an undergraduate, my interests were focused largely in Modern to Contemporary art with an emphasis on philosophy.  My senior thesis was entitled Phenomenology and Mysticism in Art Nouveau.  As a Master’s candidate of History with a focus in Museum Studies, I gained valuable insight concerning the perspective of the visitor and experience with important practical issues such as grant writing and budgeting for a museum department.  I was awarded a government grant to travel to Alaska and help three small Native American museums with their collections during the interim summer of my Museum Studies work. While there, I became involved with a small Native tribe, the Alutiiq, predominately based on the Kenai Peninsula and on Kodiak Island. I spent several weeks doing research amongst the tribe on an island called Ouzinkie.  The Alutiiq have endured a terrible history of Russian and American invasion and abuse that left them struggling in the 21st century. In researching the history of the Alutiiq, I found that the women of the tribe had repeatedly taken bold actions to protect the tribe during times when their culture was unusually threatened. The Alutiiq tribe which lived on the island of Ouzinkie was threatened by alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty, and insufficient education.  Nearly all political offices and positions of power in Ouzinkie were held by women.  Alutiiq women were also responsible for a prolific output of skilled and thought-provoking contemporary art that expressed their history as well as modern day concerns.  I acted as assistant curator for a show in Homer, Alaska that exhibited the work of these women. This exhibit was only one of the many exhbits these artists were being featured in at the time. After working with art that had such a real and powerful influence on human lives, I am determined to gear my art historical work towards the Contemporary art that is being created today with social concerns and goals.  Specifically, I am interested in art concerning minority, poverty, globalization, gender, and sexuality issues.

2. Describe an exhibition that you liked or found impressive. Tell us why. Please provide a link to a website, if possible.

What a difficult question!  I’m going to choose two, one specific to my area of interest, Rina Banerjee’s “Chimeras of India and the West”, and one that was just an astounding exhibition, Carston Holler’s “SOMA”.

Rina Banerjee, Take me, take me, take me . . . to the Palace of Love, 2003.

Rina Banerjee, Upon civilizing home an absurd and foreign fruit grew ripened, made food for the others, grew snout, tail and appendage like no other, 2010.

Rina Banerjee’s “Chimeras of India and the West” ( and is running at the Guimet Musee National in Paris from May 25 until September 26.  Banerjee explores issues of her identity, being both from the East and the West, in this exhibit in an incredibly visual manner.  She uses fantastic colors and textures amongst symbols that are both traditional and modern, East and West inspired.  The effect is feminine and tactile while bizarre and whimsical.  Personally, I find Bannerjee’s manner of dealing with post-colonial and global world issues absolutely enjoyable aesthetically and intellectually fascinating.

Carsten Holler, “SOMA”, 2010-2011.

I can’t resist mentioning Carston Holler’s “SOMA” exhibit that ran at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin from November 5, 2010 to February 6, 2011. Holler created a completely immersive experience to explore issues of enlightenment, awakening, myth, and consciousness based on the myth of soma – a drink said to allow access to the Divine used in North India by nomads in the 2nd millennium BCE.  The result is unbelievable. Giant mushrooms hung upside down from the ceiling of a gallery, reindeer lived in the museum for the entire duration of the exhibit, a bed was positioned on a towering pedestal for viewers to take a nap on, flies and canaries were kept in cages, and several TVs projecting the feedback of security cameras were provided.  This exhibit is so detailed and enormous in scale that it effectively brings viewers to contemplate the issues that Holler intends.

I’m also including a link below to the Artforum best artworks/exhibits of 2011 because it’s a great way to catch up on the contemporary art world:

3. Which books did you read of late (art, fiction, non-fiction)? Pick one and go into detail about it.

I recently read Felix Guattari’s Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm.  It’s very dense and the language is not always accessible.  However, it is definitely worth it.  Guattari proposes that art has detached itself from restraints that previously governed its meaning (particularly laws of capitalist societies) and can now produce powerful individual subjectivities that weren’t previously possible.  Individuals can now be “enveloped by transversal collective identities”.  This new connection creates a new understanding of ethics that extends from an artwork to reality.  This brief paragraph is an extreme oversimplification of the book so I would highly recommend trekking through this rewarding work.

In conjunction with Chaosmosis, I read Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others.  This book is the polar opposite of Guattari’s – it’s academic AND emotional, short, and easy to read.  I love Susan Sontag.  This book analyzes the way we react to the pain of others.  Are we really disgusted and empathetic or are we excited to watch pain?  Analyzing a wide range of artworks representing the pain of others (from Goya’s “Disasters of War” series to photos of black lynchings), Sontag does an amazing job exploring such an interesting subject.

I just began Lucy Lippard’s Mixed Blessings, a book exploring the complexities of art history’s relationship to non-Western art.   If the book has any pertinent information for the class, I’ll update the class blog with that information.

4. What are your main interests besides art? 

I love being outdoors, hiking, camping, cooking, good music, good films, good books, good food, interesting people, and hanging out with my fat cat and my husband.

5.  Which blogs do you check regularly?

I’m a blog addict so I’m only including a few favorites:

6. Which cultural event has really impressed you lately? This can be a museum, a concert, or anything like that, but also a sports game (if you consider this a cultural event for which there are good reasons). Or anything I am not even thinking of … Again, tell us why.

I think this collaboration between Jason Schwartzman, John Baldessari, and LACMA is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of a museum reaching out to the general public.  I hope more museums follow in suit in the future.  Also, it’s hilarious!

7. Please describe briefly an article in a newspaper or a magazine that got you thinking lately. Reading online is fine, and what you introduce here does not have to be about art. If the respective article is available online, please link to it!

I always enjoy the Onion and I found this article concerning the upcoming election fantastically ironic.

Also, I’ve been in communication with a friend working at the ACLU about this “witchcraft” case in Missouri.  The case is one of the saddest examples of prejudice and ignorance I’ve heard of.  Seeing it in print makes it even more unbelievable.

8. Please share with us a thought or an idea that really widened your intellectual horizon. Again, this must not be limited to the visual arts. If possible, give a source for this idea so that others know where to go to if they are interested.

Risking being redundant, my experience in Alaska has been the most influential force for my career course today.  Seeing the power of art beyond abstract philosophies of form or plans for a vague movement towards a utopia has completely changed how I view my own art historical duties.

Nicole Dial-Kay
MA Candidate Art History
University of Colorado Boulder
MA History in Museum Studies
University of Missouri St. Louis

4 Responses

  1. where do we post our own profiles?

    • Bruce,

      You need to click on “ARTH3539-001″ in the upper left corner. Scroll to “New” and then to “Post”. Categories are on the right of the textbox. Please post your intellectual profile and categorize it as “Intellectual Profile”.

      Kira is sending out an email soon and I will post a blog tutorial this evening if you need further help.

  2. I posted my intellectual profile as a response there, is that correct? Also, I don’t know how to “categorize” a post before publishing so I didn’t do that…

    • Brittney,

      You need to click on “ARTH3539-001” in the upper left corner. Scroll to “New” and then to “Post”. Categories are on the right of the textbox. Please repost your intellectual profile as a post and categorize it as “Intellectual Profile”.

      Kira is sending out an email soon and I will post a blog tutorial this evening if you need further help.

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