Announcement of the new director of the School of Art and Art History

Few people can claim to have been motivated in their studies of ancient art by growing up alongside ancient Roman aqueducts, but that is exactly how Ömür Harmanşah, the new director of the School of Art and of Art History, part of the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago, discovered his passion in his native Turkey.

Ömür Harmanşah, the new director of the School of Art and Art History and faculty member of the Art History Department. (Photo: Peri Johnson.)

“My family comes from a rural town where my grandparents had an orchard. The remains of Roman aqueducts ran in front of the orchard, and that influenced me deeply,” said Harmanşah, an associate professor of art history.

Harmanşah, who joined the UIC faculty at the School of Art and Art History in 2014, was chosen to become the school’s principal on August 16, pending board approval. of Illinois. His early exposure to these ancient ruins led him to become an architectural historian and landscape archaeologist and to study ancient architecture, primarily Greek and Roman buildings and urban cultures.

For his doctorate, Harmanşah studied ancient art and archeology at the Department of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on Mesopotamia. He has participated in many field projects, including excavations in Greece and Turkey. His early work as an architect in Turkey led him to work in the field and spending time in rural landscapes and “stories of buildings”, fueled his passion. His geographic area of ​​specialization is the Ancient Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean.

“More recently, I have directed my attention to environmental histories and climate change, reflecting on what and how archaeologists and architectural historians contribute to the most important debate of our time,” Harmanşah said. “I treat architecture, buildings and spaces as witnesses to complex histories and deep pasts.”

While studying art history and preparing for his doctorate, he saw a lot of contemporary art and found it refreshing to connect ancient and contemporary art.

“I felt there were many conceptual parallels, and thinking about contemporary art gave me an incredible level of intellectual growth,” he said.

Before coming to UIC, Harmanşah taught at Reed College and Brown University. He has received various sabbatical and research scholarships, including twice the main scholarship of the Center for Anatolian Civilizations Research at Koç University, in 2009 and 2019; Brown University Cogut Center for the Humanities Fellowship in 2012; and the Donald D. Harrington Faculty Research Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. He was named a Rising Star in Art, Architecture, and the Humanities in 2016 by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research of the University of Texas. UIC.

“Ömür Harmanşah has over 18 years of experience as an accomplished teacher and researcher,” said Rebecca Rugg, Dean of the College of Architecture, Design and the Arts. “His deep academic knowledge working at the intersection of ancient and contemporary, his appreciation of disciplinary intersection, and his strong management and administrative skills honed in archaeological field projects make him an ideal candidate to lead the “School of Art and Art History. We are delighted to have Ömür Harmanşah in this leadership position to lead the school in its next phase.

Her position as the new director aligns with her belief in the productivity and creativity of working and thinking together and inspiring people from different backgrounds to work together. Harmanşah said he was honored by this appointment and considers it a major responsibility. He said he has always been someone who attracts his colleagues to academic events such as conferences, workshops, collaborative projects and other social events.

He said the School of Art and Art History brings together an incredible wealth of educators, staff and students from diverse backgrounds in the fields of studio arts, art history art, museum and exhibition studies, curatorial practice, interdisciplinary arts and arts education.

“To assume the role of leader in this academic unit means for me to be a unifier of a creative community. I aspire to support the growth and health of this creative community and collective imagination,” said Harmanşah.

Part of its goal is to help the school and its students adapt quickly to the changing world around them, including social, political and environmental movements.

“This is a time of dramatic change, and our job is to…welcome change to our institution and to our program,” he said.

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