Amy Hughes

Position title: Ph.D. Candidate

Email: abrabender@wisc.edu

Animated by the inquiry of what constitutes political art, particularly, the ways in which the decorative and seemingly “empty” spaces of applied arts and design can become sites for conducting critical work, Amy’s dissertation examines the intersection between political dissent and modernist expression in postwar Czechoslovakian glass large-scale sculptures. Building on Central European concepts of dissent both as the effort to open spaces for critical thinking and on theoretical texts examining materiality, affect and loss, she argues these concepts of dissent were manifested in the objects themselves, the often-public process of glassmaking and the affective responses the work generated. Through field work, archival research, oral history interviews and in situ formal analysis, her dissertation’s critical investigation of postwar Czechoslovakian glass challenges current dissent scholarship by establishing the important role the decorative, transparent and empty played in dissent practices. It also identifies the ways in which formalist language was employed to negotiate politics by appearing to retreat from it.

Primary Advisor(s)