News & Ideas

Student Spotlight: Chassidy Winestock PhD ’24

Chassidy Winestock smiles for the camera, with hands folded.
Photo courtesy of Chassidy Winestock

Chassidy Winestock is a PhD candidate in the Harvard Department of History of Art and Architecture. She is writing her dissertation on the work of Maren Hassinger, Howardena Pindell, Liliana Porter, and Mildred Thompson—four women artists who developed innovative abstract languages and vocabularies. Alongside her dissertation work, Winestock curated an exhibition at Radcliffe’s Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery titled A Female Landscape and the Abstract Gesture that centers on these four artists.

Winestock always had an interest in abstract art. When she began studying abstraction, she was drawn to the ways that certain artists during the 1960s and ’70s became conscious of the materiality of their work, drawing attention to the physical act of creating it and broadening previous concepts of modernism and abstraction.

Winestock first became involved with Radcliffe in 2019, when she was a research assistant with Jennifer L. Roberts, then faculty director for the arts, for Roberts’s exhibition Willie Cole: Beauties. During this time, Winestock was formally introduced to Meg Rotzel, curator of exhibitions at Harvard Radcliffe Institute, who was instrumental in creating a new visiting curator position. In 2022, Jinah Kim, the current Johnson-Kulukundis Family Faculty Director of the Arts at Radcliffe, invited Winestock to apply and submit an exhibition proposal, which she did—and the rest, as they say, is history.

Exhibitions make arguments in much the same way that thesis papers make arguments, says Winestock, with the artworks on display being “the primary source of your evidence for the argument you’re making.” Identifying and obtaining access to the pieces for A Female Landscape was a huge part of the curation process, years in the making.

“It is an incredibly valuable and wonderful opportunity to be able to see a part of your dissertation come to life in the gallery,” Winestock says. She encourages others who might be interested in curation to take ownership of their scholarship: “The thing that I want to leave anybody who might take on a visiting curator position with is to really feel empowered to make it yours and to feel confident in your research, in your voice, and in the message that you ultimately are trying to impart.”

After completing her dissertation, Winestock hopes to become a professor and continue curating.

Sam Zuniga-Levy is a writer at Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

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