art history

Local University students will present at 8th annual Art History Symposium

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April. 11, 2013 — Drury is partnering with Missouri State and the Springfield Art Museum for the 8th Annual Art History Symposium this Friday, April 12 at 4 p.m. The event will be held at the Springfield Art Museum and is a collaborative effort to showcase student talents from each university. This event is free and open to the public.

To be included and showcased for the symposium the selected students had to submit papers for judging. Up to three students representatives from each university were chosen to present his or her research. The selected students from Drury are Paden Chambers and Elspeth Harwood. Missouri State students are: Rachel Johnson, Elizabeth Haughey, and Shon Cele Rainey.

Tom Russo

“Those students who have been chosen to represent Drury and MSU in the symposium will be gaining valuable, practical experience in delivering their research in a professional conference setting,” Dr. Russo said.  “Additionally all students, those delivering papers and those attending, will benefit not only from the research knowledge that is shared but also through the connections to be made with their peers at each of our institutions.”

Andrew Cohen and Tom Russo, department chairs at the time at MSU and Drury respectively, started the symposium in 2006. This year, the Springfield Art Museum joined the collaboration to host the 8th annual symposium.


A Drury professor studies baptismal fonts of the Middle Ages

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 2, 2013 — When most people think about fonts, Times New Roman and Garamond may come to mind, but one Drury professor is interested in a different type of font used long ago, baptismal fonts. Drury Art History Professor Tom Russo has received a $4,500 grant from Yale University’s Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (London) to research a previously unknown group of baptismal fonts from the Middle Ages.

Dr. Russo has already conducted research in Britain to document surviving sculpture from 1066-1200. During his research, Dr. Russo believes he has discovered a group of nine fonts that appear to come from the same workshop.

“Around the 11th century, infant baptism of Christians increased tremendously with the population boom in Europe” Russo said. “As a result, we see a massive growth in the production of baptismal fonts and baptism develops from a privilege of the bishops to one regularly performed by priests in their parish churches. Only a handful of font ‘groups’ have been identified and all are in the south of England; the fonts in the group I’m analyzing all come from the same quarry in the east midlands region and that, along with their design, indicates a different workshop from any historians had previously known.”

Dr. Russo’s research will seek to locate the production of the fonts in the medieval quarrying industry, and the economic expansion of the time reflected in the rebuilding of parochial churches.

Dr. Russo studies a baptismal font from the Middle Ages

“This discovery has the potential to give us insight into the connection between rural religious practices and economic development of the time,” Russo said.  “We don’t have a lot of written records for rural activities then.  Yet thousands of parish churches are being built across the countryside and furnished with fonts. I suspect this group of fonts was made by a local workshop, rather than a team of traveling stone carvers. If so, it gives us a window into rural manufacturing and how it tied in with the church building craze. The parish church system is emerging at this time and having a transformative effect on the social, economic, and religious fabric of medieval life in the relations among villagers, clergy, and the lords that controlled the churches.”

Dr. Russo will conduct the bulk of his research this summer in the villages of the county of Lincolnshire, England as well as in research libraries in London.

Media Contact: Dr. Tom Russo, Professor of Art History, Office: (417) 873-7413, Email:


Drury professor to be honored at United Kingdom’s House of Lords

For Immediate Release: September 3

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 3, 2010 — Drury Art History Professor Thomas E. Russo will attend a reception at the House of Lords, the upper house of the United Kingdom’s parliament, in London, England on Sept. 8. The reception is hosted by the Lord Bishop of Lincoln and is in honor of those that have supported Lincoln Cathedral.

Russo’s main area of study is medieval art, and he served as a consultant for the restoration of the 12th-century façade sculpture on Lincoln Cathedral in 1995 and 1996. In the fall of 2000, Russo presented the cathedral’s Bishop Grosseteste Lecture in the 13th-century chapter house. The annual lecture is a fundraiser for the cathedral’s medieval library, and Russo’s lecture drew the largest audience to date in the series. Consecrated in 1092, the cathedral towers over the city of Lincoln, which is located about 150 miles north of London.

Currently, Russo is working with Lincoln Cathedral to bring the original Magna Carta from 1215 to an exhibition venue in the Midwest. The Magna Carta was the foundation for the United States’ Constitution by laying down limitations on the power of the crown.

The Dean of Lincoln Cathedral and Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire are also co-hosting the reception.

Media Contact:
Dr. Thomas Russo
Professor of Art History
Office: (417) 873-7413


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