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Susan Verdi Webster just had the April of a lifetime

  • Susan Verdi Webster
    Susan Verdi Webster  Experienced the April of a lifetime.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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Susan Verdi Webster will never forget the fourth month of 2011.

It began early in April. Webster, the Jane Williams Mahoney Professor of Art History and American Studies at William & Mary, was awarded a 2011 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in Fine Arts Research.

Before the month was out, she learned she was a recipient of a National Humanities Center Fellowship.

“Professor Susan Webster is a very distinguished scholar and highly valued faculty member at William & Mary,” said Provost Michael R. Halleran. “Receiving two such prestigious fellowships is truly an honor and I am delighted at these recognitions of her achievements and ongoing scholarship.”

Webster’s Guggenheim is one of just two awards given this year for fine arts research. Likewise, her accolade from the National Humanities Center is one of two awards in the area of art history research. 

Guggenheim awards are a family tradition for the Websters. Susan’s father, the late Grady L. Webster, received a 1964 Guggenheim Fellowship in plant sciences. According to the Guggenheim Foundation, only two other father-daughter tandems have been so recognized.

Webster, a leading scholar in the art and architecture of colonial Latin America, focuses primarily on the indigenous architects, builders and artists who constructed colonial Quito, Ecuador. Twice a Fulbright Fellow, Webster is regarded internationally as an expert in confraternities—lay religious organizations—and their artistic patronage in Spain and Latin America. She is the author of numerous scholarly articles, as well as two books, Arquitectura y empresa en el Quito colonial: José Jaime Ortiz, alarife mayor, and Art and ritual in Golden-Age Spain: Sevillian confraternities and the processional sculpture of Holy Week.

Webster is the sixth William & Mary professor to receive the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Former recipients are Sean Keilen (English, 2008); Nikos Chrisochoides (computer science, 2007); Barbara King (anthropology, 2002); Talbot J. Taylor (English, 1994); and James Axtell (history, 1981).

She also is the sixth William & Mary faculty member to win a National Humanities Center Fellowship since the Center opened 32 years ago. Former recipients are Professors Katherine Preston (musicology, 2009); Talbot J. Taylor (English, 2006); Brad Weiss (anthropology, 2003); Paula Blank (English, 2001); and Norman Fiering (history, 1978).

“This has certainly been a banner year,” said Webster. “I am deeply honored by both the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Humanities Center fellowships. I am grateful for the time to dedicate to research and writing and for the opportunity to engage with the community of scholars at the NHC.”  i