Kristin Plys, Associate Professor in the UTM Sociology Department, was recently appointed as the 2023 – 2024 J. Clawson Mills Scholar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Plys is working on a book project on the impact of women artists who opposed military dictatorships. Over the next year, Plys will conduct research at the MET in New York City and travel to Pakistan to learn more about the work and life of the Pakistani artist and activist Lala Rukh, who was a key figure in the globally visible opposition to Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia Ul Haq. The MET recently purchased several important works by Lala Rukh, many of which were created during the Zia era in which a severe Islamization fostered an oppressive environment for women in Pakistan. Although female painters constituted the most visible resistance to Zia’s dictatorship, there has yet to be an academic monograph focused on their movement and the impact of their opposition. Plys’ research is timely as authoritarian movements around the world have again risen to restrict women’s rights while also igniting feminist movements. The implications of Plys’s research will help those interested in democracy to better understand the role of women and of female-led visual arts movements protesting dictatorships.
To learn more about the MET’s 2023 – 2024 Fellowships, please see their published list of awardees.