Congratulations on winning the $2,000 Spring 2022 Art History Scholarship and best wishes ongoing to:
Isabella Cressotti is a Sophomore at New York University majoring in Art History.
“I have only just begun my venture toward the objectives I aim to achieve by the end of my academic career. However, I am eager to initiate the exploration of the varying opportunities available to me while I earn my degree as I progress in the field. I plan to complete my graduate studies immediately after earning my bachelor’s degree in art history from New York University. I aim to focus my four years on a specialization in ancient art, specifically through a minor in Ancient Studies that would accentuate my knowledge in archeology and anthropology. Along with this, I plan to study abroad in Florence, Italy, during my junior year and eventually take courses surrounding museum and archival studies as I approach the end of my undergraduate years. I also intend to complete the Senior Honors Thesis program within my university to graduate with departmental honors in art history.
Through excavations abroad and in-depth conservation programs, my current university is only a starting point for my path toward gaining my PhD of Philosophy.
Being a multi-faceted student is important to me, so I aim to gain as much knowledge as I can during my years of schooling to create a strong foundation for my future career. I find that experience in the field is also essential, which is why I hope to complete an internship at a gallery in New York City before my undergraduate years conclude. While I am not focusing on academics, I spend much of my time working at the NYU Bobst Library, creating zines and personal art projects, and conducting outside research on my aforementioned areas of interest.”
Winning Scholarship Essay / Isabella Cressotti
Compare and contrast the 2 paintings shown below:
Both Eileen Monaghan Whitaker’s “Manhattan Detail” and Frederic Whitaker’s “Harlem Sunshine” depict differing scenes of the New York landscape during 1947. “Manhattan Detail” centers on a sidewalk scene of a busy spot of the city, featuring multiple people in the foreground and background. The piece includes many warm-toned hues, which create towering buildings as a backdrop to the local aspects of the city, marked by their proper signs and large windows probably meant for storefront displays. Towards the right of the painting is an indication of a tree rooted within a leafy patch of fenced grass, insinuating a more considerable area lives beyond the perspective of the piece. “Manhattan Detail” includes the presence of numerous figures, most within the background closer toward the building topped with billboards. Compared to “Harlem Sunshine,” this painting holds more people, especially at close range towards the viewer through the company of a supposed family. The people appear to interact with one another, and even those within the background cluster in groupings that can imply their relationships with each other. While the man-made commodities of advertisements and facilities make up a portion of the scene, “Manhattan Detail” depicts modest vegetative aspects through the subtle brush of tree leaves against the lamppost, a naturalistic element “Harlem Renaissance” lacks. The lamppost itself also emphasizes the verticality of the scene, extending almost the entire length of the piece. This aspect is additionally achieved in “Harlem Sunshine” through its gradual incline of clotheslines, going higher up the buildings closer to the top of the frame. The buildings progressively escalate from right to left as well, with the left-most building rising partially beyond the frame.
“Harlem Sunshine” contrastingly depicts a more domestic life scene of Harlem residents rather than the bustling social activities of Manhattan’s inhabitants. Instead of illustrating a publicized atmosphere, “Harlem Sunshine” mainly focuses on privatized apartment buildings. The structures feature adornments of inky fire escapes and subtle depictions of curtains within the small windows. Stark whites brightened by the sunlight illuminate against the gray-washed shadows of the buildings behind them. Both pieces, in fact, share such an element of defined contrast through the colors of the many constructions. A single female figure stands at the bottom right of the low ground line, highlighted by wearing a vivid yellow and green dress with clasped hands appearing contemplative. While “Manhattan Detail” communicates a snap-shot scene of the mobile lives of civilians, “Harlem Sunshine” focuses on a moment of stillness in the midst of New York. The piece maintains a peaceful quality, especially through the indicated winds as seen through the hanging clothes gently moving with the breeze. The cool-toned scene features a view of the bright and cloudy daytime sky, an aspect not shown in “Manhattan Detail,” since buildings obstruct the view and dominate the scene. A distant water tower penetrates the sky with its washed-out purple tint above the hazy portrayal of a building to emphasize the depth of the image. Both paintings interact with depth through forming deep, shadowed recesses of dark color on the sides of buildings, reflecting the light sources of the pieces. Purple and blue tones scatter throughout “Harlem Sunshine”, within the clothing, buildings, and the two doors flanking the central, smaller green shed. The compositions of each artwork are similar as well, demonstrating a low foreground with a majority of the painting focused on the prominent background of the cityscape beyond.
The two watercolor pieces emphasize the range of New York settings, demonstrating its perpetual liveliness and movement through the busy pedestrians of Manhattan and the subtle, delicate sway of garments in the Harlem breeze. Each view evokes a different feeling, one as an onlooker blending into a city crowd on the sidewalk and another as an intruder on an intimate, solitary moment alone in Harlem. Comparing the aspects of refinement within the scene of “Manhattan Detail”—a polished lamppost amidst public architectural design—against the domestic and candid portrayal of “Harlem Sunshine” ultimately accentuates New York’s capacity to encompass the lives of a variety of people.