As a doctoral student in art history, Jennifer Udell learned to spot the clues in ancient Greek vase paintings that helped unravel a narrative story—things such as the season, time of day and even the ritual being depicted. Such expertise was just what Fordham was looking for to help shape its growing art collection.
Udell, a former curatorial assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is Fordham’s first art curator. Since arriving last June, she has overseen the creation and organization of the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art, which opened Dec. 6 on the Rose Hill campus. Now she is writing an accompanying catalog that will feature 60 to 70 of the museum’s most representative pieces and will be published by Fordham University Press later this year.
Udell believes the museum will generate interest from scholars and the public alike. “New material is always exciting,” she said of the museum collection. “Scholars will want to see it because it is fresh material to work into their research. It can also involve and benefit the surrounding community.”
While Fordham does not actively collect art, it has received several art gifts from donors, Udell said. Among the University’s 710 holdings are paintings by Benjamin West, famous for his colonial-era portraits; drawings by American artist John Trumbull; and one etching by Rembrandt Van Ryn. Following the museum catalog project, Udell will organize, catalog and conserve all of Fordham’s holdings.
Udell also hopes to help mount an exhibition that will raise Fordham’s profile in the art world, such as a collaboration with New York University or another high-profile university collection. “It would be a dream exhibit,” she said. “And would show off the Fordham academic community to everybody.”