Scholars Forum Success Stories: Wasko from Art Department

Posted on 2/20/2014 7:25:09 AM

Faculty members can help students combine areas of study and interests and encourage them to present their work at the 2014 Undergraduate Scholars Forum or the Graduate Scholars Forum. Sean Derry, a faculty member of the Department of Art, encouraged his student Wasko to pursue this goal in the 2013 Undergraduate Scholars Forum.

Art undergraduate major J.M. Wasko won a USF Award for Outstanding Presentation for his research “Civil War! Dissolution of the Self in Researching the War of Rebellion in Contemporary Art.” Wasko combined his passion in art with his interest in the Civil War era and did a case study of Alfred Waud, a war special artist who followed the armies to illustrate the conflict for Harper’s Weekly.

Wasko examined the artist’s sketches, field notes, and other historical papers in the Library of Congress and Gettysburg College. Although Waud was serving as an impartial journalist during the war, Wasko said he discovered that Waud experienced the death and destruction of the Civil War just as any soldier actively involved in combat. Waud buried a friend and fellow reporter who was killed in battle a week before Gettysburg. He then went on to Gettysburg, where on the first day of battle, he sought out stories in order to illustrate the shooting of General John F. Reynolds, who was conducting the Army of the Potomac until its commander, General Meade, would arrive. Waud stayed at the battle site, and his subsequent illustrations suggested a disorientation with his surroundings, which Wasko said was indicative of trauma to an otherwise well-aware artistic journalist.

Wasko spent last fall studying Civil War-era studies at Gettysburg College. When he returned to IUP the next semester, his advisor, professor Sean Derry, suggested he combine his interests and research artists who served during the war. “I wanted to find a way to bridge the two,” Wasko said. Wasko is a senior this year at IUP and will continue his project on-site in Gettysburg next year before continuing his research in an American Studies graduate program.

(Story compiled and written by Beth Koop in the Office of Communications and Marketing)