Bridge Scholar joins 2020-21 Cohort

Bridge Scholar joins 2020-21 Cohort

April 1, 2020

Photo of Bianca Passalacqua-Thon

Congratulations to Bianca Passalacqua-Thon for her admission to the Department of Art History Ph.D. program! 

During her time as an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Bianca Passalacqua-Thon was immediately drawn to art history after taking an introductory course that focused on ancient art. Following the outbreak of Hurricane Maria on the island in 2017, she began considering her future as an art historian, though there are no graduate-level programs in Puerto Rico. A professor at UPR informed her of the University of Chicago Bridge Scholarship program, a merit-based, full-tuition award granted to graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions who would benefit from a year of academic study at a leading research university. Studying this year at the University of Chicago as a Bridge Scholar, Passalacqua-Thon had to adjust to the challenges of moving to the United States, leaving her friends and family to live in a country that she had never been to. 

“I don’t think things started to settle down for me until I learned that I was accepted into the PhD program at UChicago,” Passalacqua-Thon says. “Once the excitement from that died down a little, that’s when I was finally able to take a step back and acknowledge that this would be my home for years to come.”

In the program, she will study modern art history and is specifically interested in the work of German artist Hannah Höch. Working in the Dadaist tradition, Höch was a leading pioneer of the photomontage. 

“Hannah Höch had access to one of the most intriguing European avant-garde movements, to which she was also a kind of outsider,” Passalacqua-Thon says. “Through her work within the Western tradition, she highlighted the subordinate position of women within that tradition, while also offering a critique of the ethnographic objects appropriated by that tradition and included in museums. Her life and work model how it’s possible to remain an outsider while also having a voice heard on the inside.”

To learn more about Bianca’s journey and interest in art history, read the Graham School News story