The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Alumna visits campus to speak with students

3 min read
Allison M. Stagg, a 2002 graduate from the University of Mary Washington, will return to UMW today for a lecture on American caricature and an informal interview about her career.


Allison M. Stagg, a 2002 graduate from the University of Mary Washington, will return to UMW today for a lecture on American caricature and an informal interview about her career.

Stagg graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in art history, and received a number of fellowships and grants from institutions such as the American Philosophical Society, Smithsonian American Art Museum and Yale University.

Stagg curated at multiple museums, including the Metropolitan Museum, and organized exhibits at the National Portrait Gallery in London and the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

According to Stagg, she always loved art but did not know that she wanted to study art history until UMW offered the major.

“It draws on so many different disciplines, and you can apply it to everyday life,” said Stagg.

JeanAnn Dabb, professor of art history, taught Stagg in a number of classes and was her major and individual study advisor during Stagg’s time at UMW.

“Allison was always up for the adventure of looking at art in its original context as well as museums,” said Dabb. “She was continually an enthusiastic participant in discussions both in and outside of class.”

Stagg is currently working to turn her research on political caricature in the United States from 1780 to 1830 into a book, “The Art of Wit: American Political Caricature.”

Her lecture, “James Akin: The First American Caricaturist,” will take place on Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. in Lee Hall room 411 and is sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History.

Stagg will discuss the life and work of James Akin, an American political cartoonist in the late 18th through 19th centuries. Akin’s work influenced many popular caricaturists at the time.

Olivia Garner, junior classics major, said that she would consider attending the presentation because she thinks American caricature sounds interesting.

“I think art history is important because art is an expression of social, political and economic events that are happening at the time, as well as an expression of the artist’s feelings about those events,” said Garner.

Dabb believes Stagg’s presentation will raise a number of interesting points about the relationship between art and public opinion.

“The tradition of caricature should be of interest to a wide range of students, especially considering the climate of political discourse in the country at present,” said Dabb.

Stagg will hold an informal interview about her career on Nov. 8 at 9:30 a.m. in Melchers Hall room 107.

According to Dabb, students who attend the interview will receive advice from Stagg on career options, graduate school applications and internships.

Marjorie Och, professor of art history, said, “Our alumni have been a valuable resource for our current art history majors. The networks they create are amazing.”

According to Stagg, despite what some people say, there are many things students can do with an art history degree.

“Art history can be lifelong fun. It doesn’t just have to be four years at college,” said Stagg. “If it’s your passion and it’s something you love, then you can find a way to do it in so many different capacities.”

Students will also have the chance to meet individually with Stagg, who will hold appointments from 1-3 p.m. on Nov. 8. Students can sign up for an appointment at the department office in Melchers Hall room 217.

Och said that it is beneficial for students to hear about the current work happening in art history.

“From our research we uncover a great deal about a particular society and group of individuals,” said Och. “In many respects, doing art history allows us to have conversations with people in the past. What could be more interesting?”