In the Loop
Student Stories : May 25, 2015

Leslie Todd wins top award at 2015 Florida Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium

By Ashby Strauch

Leslie Todd won first place in the Arts and Humanities category in the Florida Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium held April 24, 2015 for her poster, “Realism in Moche Ceramics: Why?”

UF Graduate School Dean Henry Frierson, Ph.D., endorsed Todd after she was one of the first-place winners of the poster competition hosted by UF’s Graduate Student Research Council in the fall. The poster from fall is available for viewing on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building C leading to the Architecture and Fine Arts Library.

Todd has just completed her second year as a Ph.D. student in School of Art + Art History. Todd’s idea for the research came from her curiosity as to why the Moche rendered humble objects like the conch shell so realistically in their ceramics.

This research resulted in a seminar paper for her advisor, Dr. Maya Stanfield-Mazzi, which is what the poster is based on. The study will be published in the next issue of the SECAC Review under the title “(il)literate Engagement: A Case Study of a Moche Strombus Galeatus Stirrup-Spout Vessel from the Museo Larco Collection.”

Her study focuses on how anyone who views the vessel can recognize that it is a conch shell, but only the Moche elite were fully endowed with the knowledge required to understand its symbolism.

“Thus, the style of the strombus galeatus stirrup-spout vessel took on a socio-religious role for the Moche elite,” Todd states. “It participated in a paradoxical visual system that promoted equality and social balance through the immediate visual accessibility of the icon as a conch shell while also reinforcing the elite position in the hierarchical society as a strata composed of select individuals privileged with the knowledge of the vessel’s complete meaning.”