Graduate Profiles

Helen Pinto - Arts and Politics

In Fall 2021, Helen moved to Berlin, Germany, to start a Master’s Degree in American Studies at Humboldt University of Berlin. She finds herself relating to W.E.B Du Bois and his time in Berlin when he wrote: “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” Helen hopes to return to the U.S. following her studies at Humboldt to help bring arts and cultural matters to West Wing affairs. In the meantime, she plans to expand her knowledge of art curation, writing about contemporary art and the effect of migration patterns on national identities.

Political Science 164 – Political Psychology and Involvement
Legal Studies 182 – Law, Politics, and Society
American Studies C111E – The Wall: Art, Literature, Performance on and about the U.S.-Mexican Border
History of Art 190F – Visual Activism
Public Policy 157 – Arts and Cultural Policy
History of Art 100 – Theories and Methods

Thesis Moving Forward: Lessons Learned from United States Arts Policy from 1793 to 2021

Helen’s honors thesis investigates the history of art and cultural policy in the United States and explores cases that paint a picture of the issues that impact the public’s engagement with federally sponsored works of art in terms of policy, design, funding, and execution. Helen argues that the federal government must promote what American educator and philosopher John Dewey referred to as “aesthetic experiences.” Helen’s research starts at the U.S. Capitol, where art policy and public art in the U.S. were born. She then goes on to explore the purpose of art created as part of the New Deal, the creation of the National Endowment of the Arts, local arts commissions at the city level, how tax codes dictate the art that Americans have access to, and finally Bill Ivey’s proposition for a Cultural Bill of Rights. This research questions: what lessons are to be learned so far in United States art policy? Who are the decision-makers of these policies/who do they represent? And finally, what tools can be wielded so that citizens may have what arts policy scholar Michael O’Hare calls “more, better engagement” with art?

Meg Czeisler - American Creativity and Innovation

Meg currently holds a Case Manager internship at Panish Shea Boyle & Ravipudi, a personal injury law firm in Los Angeles (website: https://www.psblaw.com/). She will begin law school in the fall of 2022.

Sociology 121 – Innovation and Entrepreneurship
History of Art 190T – Transcultural
Letters and Science 105 – Arts Entrepreneurship
Media Studies 190 – Living at the Speed of Light: Historical and Theoretical Approaches to the Social Effects of Electronic Media
Ethnic Studies 176 – Against the Grain: American Art and Artists
History of Art 105- Eco Art

Thesis Black Protest Street Art during the Summer of 2020 in Oakland, California

Meg’s honors thesis explores the outpouring of public art in the aftermath of May 25, 2020, when an unarmed Black man named George Floyd was suffocated under the knee of a police officer. The overwhelming number of powerful images shared online and painted on streets corners—the sense of solidarity conceived in the circulation of Black activist art— pushed America to look in the mirror at its ugly, racially divided present. Employing the cartographic method and close interpretive analysis, the thesis demonstrates how the evolution and prevalence of Black activist street art in Oakland, California confirms the essential role art plays in shaping and reflecting contemporary civic discourse.

Emma Silver - The Way America Tells Its Stories

After graduation, Emma moved to Washington D.C. and currently works on Capitol Hill as a Staff Assistant for Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30).

English 130C – American Literature, 1865-1900
Comparative Literature 156AC – Fiction and the Culture of the Americas
English 166 – Special Topics
Political Science 106A- American Politics: Campaign Strategy – Media
Political Science 116J - Special Topics in Political Theory
Sociology 163 - Popular Culture

Thesis Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Just Sing: World War II in Musicals and the American Attempt to Decipher Wartime Trauma and Sexual Anxieties

Recognizing that Americans have long harbored an obsession with World War II, Emma’s honors thesis questions why Americans have repeatedly taken to Broadway to parse their feelings on the subject. Highlighting how musical theater has acted as a vehicle for Americans to engage in a communal processing of the events of World War II, Emma argues that this processing is achieved primarily through a progression of queer G.I. performance and other generalized sexual anxieties that serve to reflect the changing values and focuses within American culture. To support this assertion, she analyzes three Broadway musicals that are narratively anchored in World War II: This is the Army (1942), South Pacific (1949), and Bandstand (2017). Each presents a vital look into Americans’ attempts to project and reconcile their feelings about World War II at different time periods: during the all-encompassing patriotism of the war, within the repression of the postwar era, and finally in the increasing social tolerance of the modern day.