The fellowship honors scholars who are outstanding early-career art historians from around the world whose innovative scholarship stands to make substantial and original contributions to the understanding of art and its history. Menon’s 12-month fellowship includes a $60,000 stipend and an additional $5,000 for travel and research. She will also have access to the rich digital scholarly resources and networks of Getty and ACLS and will join the rest of this year’s fellows at the Getty Center in Los Angeles for a week sometime next year to present their research to each other and the wider Getty community.
“To have this support from the Getty Foundation and the ACLS means a great deal to me,” Menon said. “There is such original and exciting new research taking place in the discipline that it is genuinely humbling to be among those selected to have received a fellowship this year.”
Menon’s project, titled “Hipped & Gabled: The Sacred Art and Architecture of Malabar,” will examine the Malabar coast of southwestern India as a point of convergence for diverse artistic, cultural, and religious histories in the medieval period.
“This project builds on our understanding of transcultural exchange in the material culture of the Indian Ocean world,” Menon explained. “The book will show how the art and architectural style of Malabar, including in the region’s churches, mosques, and synagogues, reflected the cosmopolitan character of these pre-modern communities.”
“This project builds on our understanding of transcultural exchange in the material culture of the Indian Ocean world. The book will show how the art and architectural style of Malabar, including in the region’s churches, mosques, and synagogues, reflected the cosmopolitan character of these pre-modern communities.”
Menon specializes in the art histories of South Asia, with a focus on the material culture of the pre-modern Indian Ocean world. Her research interests stem from her early graduate work when she became interested in what material history can reveal about cross-cultural encounters.
“For my master’s thesis, I wrote about an ivory statuette from India that was excavated in Pompeii,” she said. “At less than 10-inches tall, this statuette was a broken-off piece of furniture! I was fascinated by the object’s history–– it was made, bought, and brought to Pompeii at some point before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the year 79. And, someone 2,000 years ago chose to preserve it despite its broken state.”
Through her research, Menon has examined medieval temple architecture and an idiomatic mode of sacred art and architecture, across religions, in Kerala. Menon’s graduate work was supported by the Steven Kossak Fellowship in Indian Art, the Riggio Fellowship in Art History, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.
The original research Menon will use for the book project was completed as part of her doctoral dissertation. One of her current students is serving as her research assistant for the book project, completing critical work such as creating maps and indexing images. Menon and her project have also benefited from the expertise of colleagues in Hamilton’s Digital Scholarship Collaborative (DiSC) and Research and Instructional Design Team (R&ID).
Menon joined the Hamilton faculty in 2020 and was recently awarded an Innovations in Digital Pedagogy Fellowship for the 2022-23 academic year by the College’s Library Information Technology Services (LITS) Department. She earned her M.A., M.Phil., and doctorate in art history and archaeology from Columbia University, and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, San Diego.
The Getty/ALCS Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art program is made possible by a major grant from Getty and administered by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences.
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