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Meet the 2017 Research in Arts Scholars

My name is Baker Donahue. I am a Senior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville majoring in Communication Studies and minoring in Entrepreneurship. While at UT, I have started my own student organization, acquired four competitive internships and founded my own company. Most recently, I have worked as an intern for AC Entertainment and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. I am also continuing the expansion of my company, In With The Old. Since its founding, In With The Old has been mentioned in several prestigious magazines, received funding from three pitch competitions and has expanded to 8 other universities. I have a strong passion for entrepreneurship and believe that it is a necessary skill for all.

Entering college I always knew I wanted to study abroad, so my junior year I signed up for every opportunity listed. Art History in Paris was the first program to accept me and I immediately agreed to go on the trip. Art has always been an interest of mine, but I had never taken the time to study or appreciate it. Art History in Paris gave me the opportunity to slow down and focus on one subject matter, as opposed to multiple. After finding out about the Research in Art scholarship I figured I’d try my hand at the application. Once accepted I applied my knowledge for business and marketing to what I knew about art. My research assignment condensed into research of the effectiveness of graffiti advertisement. I am excited to complete this program as it will challenge my knowledge of business and art, both of which have become passions of mine.


“Art as Advertisement”
Artist: Baker Donahue

What factors of graffiti advertisements affect physical in store traffic?

Art can be more than just a picture on the wall, in fact, art can be an experience. Often we perceive art to be associated with wealthy individuals or placed in fancy museums, but some of the most exiting and effective art exists on our streets. Graffiti art work has become increasingly accepted over the past few decades and those who look at a blank wall as their canvas have actually made quite the impact on small and large businesses.

My work of art demonstrates the effectiveness of using mural or graffiti art work specifically for a bicycle shop. The piece creates an entertaining and engaging experience for the viewer. The street location of the mural makes it socially acceptable to engage with, therefore, driving traffic to the bicycle shop. My research dives into the components of an effective graffiti advertisement with the intentions of driving higher in-store traffic.

My name is Alexa Griffith, and I am a senior at the University of Tennessee. My major is Chemistry and my minor is in Hispanic Studies. I am involved in the Chancellor’s Honors Program, and I am an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Best’s lab.

Going to Paris and studying art history is an experience I will never forget. Learning about the history of art as you are seeing the original piece is a very unique experience. By taking this class, I learned about the importance of art in all aspects of history. It was interesting to learn how the art of a certain time reflected the social and political aspects of that time as well. I have been able to apply what I learned about art history since my time in Paris, and I think that is what makes this trip and course so special.


“Absorption Trends of Synthetic Blue Pigments”
Artist: Alexa Griffith

The color blue has a unique history that brings many to question how it has been perceived throughout time. Using knowledge of its social and historical contexts, this research project dives into the concept of blue, both how it is perceived by the eye and what the eye can’t see. Chemistry has been essential in the making of blue throughout the centuries. Many of the paints that were developed as far back as the eleventh century and further are still being used today. Recently there have been new synthetic discoveries of a deeper, more useful blue. The reasons for these changes in social concepts of blues, light or dark, relate to its chemistry.

The purpose of this experiment is to analyze and compare different synthetic blue dyes to find their chemical differences and similarities. Using analytical methods available, the synthetic dye’s composition, quantitative elements, emissions, and absorptions can be thoroughly analyzed. By using analytical methods to test synthetic dyes, the interaction of light and matter can be explored. A blue pigment will absorb red, orange, and, yellow (emitting blue). This research will explore the

Jose Velasco is a sophomore majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with a minor in Business. Jose moved to Rocky Top from Kingsport, Tennessee and has loved the experience. Jose comes from a family of six with three older sisters. Sports such as soccer, volleyball, and ultimate frisbee are his choice of activity. Jose also enjoys staying close to his roots by being an active member in the Filipino-American Association. Giving back to the community is a very core belief for Jose and he strives to do this through volunteer work such as Remote Area Medical clinics. He aspires to work in the industry and later move to marketing, and has accepted a co-op position with Eastman Chemical Company.

Studying abroad in Paris was a wonderful experience that simply cannot be beat by traveling in the U.S. The amount of immersion to a fairly different culture was not only enjoyable but also educational. By diving headfirst into the culture, I quickly was able to learn how to engage with others in a completely different language. This was one of the best parts of being dropped into an unfamiliar situation. The class was highly enjoyable since we were able to spend most of our time in art museums where we would be lectured right in front of the paintings. Seeing paintings that I had read about in history books was a very satisfying experience. It was the observation of the art that helped me to come up with my research question. The amazing condition of the paintings seemed to be an impossible feat to me. Overall, the deep immersion into a different culture and the engaging Art History course made this trip a memorable experience


“State of Decay”
Artist: Jose Velasco

How have art conservation methods improved over time and what aspects of chemical engineering have contributed to these advancements?

Art serves to capture a moment or idea that can be displayed for viewers indefinitely. While the prestige of some artwork is everlasting, the physical art piece is quite the opposite. Historic art can lose its original appearance due to water damage, fires, dirt, mishandling, or simply being exposed to air for a very long time. Art conservators strive to restore artwork to the artist’s original intentions as closely as possible.

This art piece demonstrates the cuts and bruises that a historical painting may acquire throughout its lifetime. In this case, this would be the condition of the painting that the art conservator would receive initially. My research looks to the intermediate step that brings a work like this back to its original and higher quality state.