Kelvin L. Parnell Jr

PhD Candidate

Kelvin is a current doctoral candidate specializing in race, identity, and materiality in nineteenth and twentieth-century American art, Modern sculpture and sculptural theory, and eighteenth and nineteenth-century trans-Atlantic visual culture under the direction of Dr. Carmenita Higginbotham. He graduated cum laude from Duquesne University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history and art history and received the Giorgio Vasari Award for Excellence in Art History. He completed his senior thesis on David Gilmour Blythe’s paintings of president Abraham Lincoln. In 2018, Kelvin completed his qualifying paper entitled “Lasting Legibility: An Examination of Function and Authorship in Selma Burke’s The Four Freedoms” examining the negotiations of patronage and authorship between artist and the federal government in New Deal art production. 

In 2019, Kelvin reached candidacy and is currently working on his dissertation, “Casting Bronze, Recasting Race: American Sculpture and the Bronze Economy 1840-1890.” His project explores race and sculptural theories to examine the intersections of race, bronze material, and statuary in constructing Native and African American identities in the nineteenth century through the works of sculptors Henry Kirke Brown and John Quincy Adams Ward. Also in 2019, Kelvin earned a certificate in American studies. At the University of Virginia, Kelvin has served as a teaching assistant for “Art Since 1945,” “Art and Money,” “Art and Technology,” and “Art and the Body.” In the summer of 2018, Kelvin attended the Summer School in Global Studies and Critical Theory, a summer school funded by the University of Virginia, Duke University, Brown University, and the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory at the University of Bologna. In 2020, Kelvin received a Jefferson Scholars Foundation Fellowship and was also awarded a 2020 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship. In 2021, Kelvin began a year-long predoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as the Wyeth Foundation fellow. Kelvin is currently the 2022-2024 Wyeth predoctoral fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts.