Morgan Brittain is a second-year MA student in American art history specializing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He received his BA in Political Science with a minor in Art History also from the University of Iowa. His research considers the transnational history and ethics of collecting as well as depictions of boats and waterscapes through an ecocritical lens, particularly as they relate to modernism’s development, ongoing legacy, and damage. Morgan’s qualifying paper project delves into James McNeill Whistler’s Naval Review set, a series of etchings whose aesthetic, political, and historical contexts provide fascinating insights into the artist’s complex relationship with modernity. As a secondary interest, he has also undertaken a digital project surveying the influence of historic design movements on contemporary American craft beer logos and labels.
Morgan has had a variety of rich research and professional experiences. He has been Charles M. Russell Fellow at the Gilcrease Museum’s Helmerich Center for American Research and research assistant for the Eve Drewelowe Collection. As Katzenberger Art History Intern at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum, he developed thematic self-guided tours for an exhibition exploring masterworks of modern and contemporary art. Professionally, he has been a grant reviewer for the Iowa Arts Council, board member for his hometown art center in Winterset, Iowa, and Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.