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Hutchison traveled to Wales to see the Pillar of Eliseg, which was erected in the first half of the 9th century.
About a decade ago, Caitlin Hutchison applied to — but didn't get in — University of Delaware's nationally recognized graduate program in art history. She handled this setback much like she coped with sitting on the bench her first year as an undergraduate basketball player.
“These were huge disappointments and I could have quit or walked away, but in both cases I worked a lot harder and formed a group of people that I could reach out to for help," said Hutchison. In the case of basketball, her efforts resulted in consistently being on the court during her subsequent years at Ferris State University, where she helped her team make it to the “Sweet 16" round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. As for her academic career, after Hutchison earned a master's in art history from the University of Notre Dame, she applied to UD's Ph.D. in art history and this time was accepted. At UD, she excelled under the tutelage of mentor and advisor Lawrence Nees, emeritus professor of art history. Then, upon graduation, she achieved the academic version of the “Sweet 16," landing a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar award. As part of this program, she spent last year teaching and lecturing at the University of York in the United Kingdom.
Hutchison specializes in Insular art and architecture, which was produced in the post-Roman era of Great Britain and Ireland. Probably the most famous example of this art form is the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript currently housed at Trinity College in Dublin.
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Hutchinson visited Edinburgh Castle, one of the oldest fortified places in Europe.
Her Fulbright responsibilities included both teaching and research. She taught a graduate course and also travelled throughout England, Scotland, and Wales for her work investigating early medieval borders and their monuments. “Going to U.K. to teach Insular art in the home of medieval art was a bit intimidating," acknowledged Hutchison with a chuckle. The University of York's art history program is among the UK's most highly regarded.
She credits her teaching experience at UD for preparing her well. At UD she taught a range of courses, including Early Medieval Art, Monuments and Methods in Art History, and Art of the Borders. An internship at the Philadelphia Museum of Art also advanced her abilities as an educator. Graduate students chosen for this program selected various works housed at the museum, then led public presentations about the art. “Your audience members could be well-informed or perhaps museum-goers wandering by with no prior knowledge of the topic," said Hutchison. “You learned to excel at visual teaching and storytelling."
Currently, she is an assistant professor of art history at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. To any student doubting their abilities, her advice is to dig deep. “I still remember I felt so out of my depth my first semester in graduate school," she noted. “So, I put the work in. I learned how to research better; I learned how to write better. And most of all, I didn't stop believing in myself."