Gift creates clinical appointment in the field of Art of the Spanish Americas at UIC’s CADA

Emmanuel Ortega, CADA’s first Marilynn Thoma Scholar in Art of the Spanish Americas.
Emmanuel Ortega, CADA’s first Marilynn Thoma Scholar in Art of the Spanish Americas.

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation has made a generous gift to the University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts (CADA). This gift will create a clinical appointment in the field of Art of the Spanish Americas at CADA’s School of Art and Art History and distinguishes UIC as the only Ph.D.-granting department of art history in Chicago with a specialist in this area.

Professor Emmanuel Ortega has been identified as CADA’s first Marilynn Thoma Scholar in Art of the Spanish Americas. Upon his arrival at UIC, Ortega initiated a sustained collaboration with the Thoma Foundation that engaged UIC art history students with the foundation’s staff and renowned collection of Art of the Spanish Americas.

In Spanish

“To be named Thoma Scholar in Art of the Spanish Americas at UIC is a great honor; not only does it inspire me to expand my research into the viceroyalty of Peru, but also allows me to continue developing art historical methodologies based on the history of Native resistance throughout the Americas,” Ortega said. “From New Mexico to Chile, the history of Native insurrection and resistance forever shaped the cultural production of the Spanish colonies. UIC’s CADA and the Thoma Foundation’s commitment to diversify faculty positions to include non-traditional scholars of color reflects a drive to expand the parameters of what the study of art and art history represents during these uncertain yet hopeful times.”

“The Marilynn Thoma Scholar in Art of the Spanish Americas represents the Department of Art History’s commitment to the field of colonial Latin America as well as to the next generation of Latinx art historians,” said Catherine Becker, CADA’s Chair of Art History. “Building on the department’s longstanding leadership in the art and architectural history of the Americas, the Thoma Scholar’s research on the Spanish Americas as a unique site of cross-cultural artistic production will transform the larger discipline along with our understanding of the history of this region.”

For Carl and Marilynn Thoma, the scholar position represents an unprecedented opportunity to inspire a new generation of scholars and to capitalize on the proximity of UIC and the Thoma collection: the campus is located less than 2 miles from the foundation’s Orange Door exhibition space.

“We are excited to welcome UIC’s dynamic students working under the direction of one of the field’s most talented emerging scholars into our Chicago exhibition space to view and study our collection in person. We have collaborated with Emmanuel Ortega over the past couple of years and are pleased that he has been designated the Marilynn Thoma Scholar in Art of the Spanish Americas,” the Thomas said.

The foundation’s gift better positions Ortega and the department to offer new and much in demand courses to UIC’s diverse student body.

CADA’s Department of Art History is honored by this support from the Thoma Foundation, a respected force in the field of the Art of the Spanish Americas,” Dean Rebecca Rugg said. “Additionally, I’m thrilled to share that the Foundation was impressed by the voices of UIC students advocating for the importance of support for a scholar in this area. Because of this, I feel the Thoma gift also recognizes UIC’s wonderfully diverse student body as a place for investment.”

The Marilynn Thoma Scholar in the Art of the Spanish Americas also will be a bridge to the exceptional artistic and cultural resources throughout the city of Chicago, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Newberry Library, and, of course, the remarkable art collection of the Thoma Foundation. Rooted in public outreach and engagement, the scholar’s research, teaching, and community involvement embrace UIC’s core values as Chicago’s only public research university.

Carl and Marilynn Thoma’s gift contributes to IGNITE: The Campaign for UIC. Investing in faculty positions is a priority for CADA, and it will lead to a deeper culture of collaborative learning and individual expression.

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