The opportunities for student research are diverse, robust, and numerous.

In addition to curriculum-based research, students can initiate semester-long independent research projects for credit, and many take advantage of grant-funded programs for summer research worldwide.

Whether in the sciences, arts, or humanities, students take ownership over their research projects and in many cases serve as first or second authors on published work.

Independent Research

Within the Art Department, independent study courses enable students to complete individual research with a faculty member. Students have explored such topics as art and medicine, contemporary art and fashion, the black body, a 3D-printed exhibition of antiquities from Cyprus, the Davidson College art collection, and mural painting, among many others, with some producing work for publication and/or exhibition.

In addition to research-based coursework, our thesis/capstone program is designed to promote, develop and recognize individual excellence through a semester, year or more of directed independent research. Art history majors spend the fall of their senior year applying theory to a topic of their choice in the perspectives seminar and then study a faculty-selected topic in the spring capstone course and travel to a relevant destination to present their individual research. Studio art majors spend their senior year preparing for a solo exhibition to be presented in the Smith Gallery.

Art history majors who qualify for honors choose their thesis topics during fall of their senior years and work with faculty advisers throughout their projects.

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Research with Professors

Our faculty members have a wide variety of research interests, both within and beyond their course topics, and often collaborate with students on research projects. They involve students in meaningful ways, and as a result students often serve as co-authors on published research papers and articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Some current examples of faculty research range from "Art and Environmentalism: Greening of Modern Architecture," "Exploring Spatial Concepts in Renaissance Painting in Europe," digital projects, and "Making Art for Social Impact."

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Summer Research

Students have multiple options for summer research, many of them paid. The grant-funded Davidson Research Initiative (DRI) allows first-year, sophomore, and junior students to design research projects, engage with faculty mentors for guidance and collaboration, and present and publish their findings. Some recent DRI projects in the art department have included studying Gothic Cathedral mosaics in France and researching Persian gardens in Iran.

In addition to the many DRI-supported opportunities, a variety of offices on campus offer grants or are affiliated with external grant programs.

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Student Research and Travel Funds

These funds are available to Art Department majors and minors to support their passion to travel for art historical research, create art, and obtain financial support if you have received an unpaid internship.  

Bayles Travel Fund

This travel grant was established by Bryan Bayles '92 in loving memory of his mother Kathryn Grey Bayles upon her death in June 2001. A $500 travel grant is awarded each year to an art major planning travel to further explore the world of art.

Application Deadlines

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with these deadlines:  

  • September 15 for travel research in the fall semester. 
  • February 20 for travel research in the spring semester. 
  • March 20 for summer travel research

Apply For Bayles Travel Fund (Davidson login required)

Kirkland Art Grant

Established by Elizabeth Kirkland Sickles '88, in honor of her father Bill Kirkland '62, the Kirkland Art Grant funds art majors and minors up to $5,000 to facilitate a summer focused on the creation of visual art exploring art's intersection with the topics of dementia, Alzheimer's, cognitive aging, or age-related brain impairments. Art students with a demonstrated passion in the sciences are especially encouraged to apply.

Apply For Kirkland Art Grant (Davidson login required)

Larry L.R. Ligo Art History Travel Fund 

In honor of Professor Emeritus Larry L.R. Ligo’s exceptional dedication to teaching Art History at Davidson College, the Larry L.R. Ligo Art History Travel Fund is designed to foster early undergraduate engagement in art history, architectural history, and visual culture. Offering grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, the fund prioritizes first- and second-year students who have initiated their exploration in art history and wish to further their understanding through travel, research, and experiential learning. As a tribute to Professor Ligo’s advocacy for firsthand experiences of art, architecture, and visual culture, the fund seeks to spark a passion for art history among undeclared students, encouraging them to consider a major in the field. 

Fund Details

All Davidson College students who have completed or are currently enrolled in at least one art history course may apply. First- and second-year students with a keen interest in deepening their understanding of art history through travel are particularly encouraged to apply and will receive preference.

The Larry Ligo Art History Travel Fund supports, in order of preference:

  1. Students who would like to travel independently for art historical research.
  2. Students who need assistance covering their personal costs for any class trips which focus on examining and analyzing artworks
  3. Supplements for art department class trips in which students view original art and study its history.

Application Deadlines 

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis with these deadlines:  

  • September 15 for travel research in the fall semester. 
  • February 20 for travel research in the spring semester. 
  • March 20 for summer travel research

By the end of the semester (December 15, May 15, August 15), individual fund recipients should submit documentation (ex. photos or video) and outcomes of their study/research experience. 

Award recipients are also required to share their experiences/outcomes publicly in the semester the travel research is conducted (ex. Verna Miller Case Symposium).  

Apply For Larry Ligo Art History Travel Fund (Davidson login required)

Fujita Arts Grant

Established in honor of the Fujita family, this grant enables a talented Davidson artist to pursue a high-quality, independent art project (visual art, music, dance or drama) outside of the United States. One grant of up to $7,000 is awarded annually by the Dean Rusk Program. Projects that do not receive Fujita funding will be considered for general Dean Rusk grant support. The grant is for independent projects and individual proposals, and can fund lessons or workshops abroad. Study abroad programs and group trips are not eligible for this grant. The project must involve at least seven weeks outside of the U.S. Application deadline; early February.

Learn More About the Fujita Fund

Spike! Grants

Spike! grants support student-driven, student-led, student-performed art on campus to help encourage extracurricular student art on campus. Spike grants can be in any art genre including (but not limited to) theatre, film, music, dance, visual art, spoken word, and creative writing. Awards will be made up to $1,500 per grant and the project will have to be completed before May 5.

Learn More About Spike! Grants

AIR (Artistic Independent Research) Grants

Air Grants support artistic and creative projects based in academia. Air grants could also fund a project in a creative genre class. Air grants can be in any art genre including (but not limited to) theatre, film, music, dance, visual art, spoken word, and creative writing. Air grants are open to all majors. Applicants need to have an assigned faculty advisor that oversees the project and must meet with said professor before applying. Individual or group projects are accepted. Preference will be given to interdisciplinary projects. Awards will be made up to $500 per grant with a rolling deadline.

Learn More About AIR Grants

Ginny Newell '78 Arts Fund

The Ginny Newell ‘78 Arts Fund enables students to broaden their horizons— both physically and intellectually— through summer internships in the study of and/or support of the visual arts, beyond the scope of North Carolina or their hometown. Grants are available in the amount of up to $5,000.  Details can be found through the Matthews Center for Career Development.

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Student Scholarships

Students applying to Davidson College can apply for these financial support scholarships. Find more information in the Office of Admission and Financial Aid under Scholarships.

Pepper Visual Arts Scholarship

The Pepper Visual Arts Scholarship is offered to students demonstrating outstanding talent and promise in the field of visual art. The award was established by James G. Pepper '65, and his mother, Mrs. Nita Easly Pepper. This award is renewable for each of the recipient's remaining three years at Davidson, providing GPA, progress toward degree, and art study (a minimum of four courses in studio or art history) requirements are met. Recipients are not required to major in art. The Pepper Visual Arts Scholarship is awarded through the college’s office of financial aid.

Pepper Visual Arts Scholarship

John M. Belk Scholarship

Davidson College invites high schools from across the country and abroad to nominate outstanding students with extraordinary potential to compete for the John M. Belk Scholarship. A candidate’s record and recommendations must demonstrate academic excellence and purposeful engagement in the classroom, in student and civic organizations, on the athletic field, or in the arts. While academic achievement is paramount, Belk Scholars also exhibit intellectual curiosity and a commitment to both their local and global communities. The Belk Scholarship provides comprehensive funding plus special opportunity stipends that allow you great flexibility in the on- and off-campus experiences you choose to explore. Those experiences, paired with our academic programs, deepen your intellect, maturity and global understanding.

Belk Scholarship

Malú Alvarez Visual Art Scholarship

Awarded to an incoming freshman each year who is passionate about and displays a strong history of engagement with the visual arts. Malú  Alvarez Visual Art Scholarship recipients actively engage in the Art Department, in classes, and in other departmental activities outside of class such as gallery openings and engaging with visiting artists, adding to the life of the department and to the programming of the Van Every/Smith Galleries. It is awarded through the college’s office of financial aid in collaboration with the art faculty.

Note: The Malú Alvarez Visual Art Scholarship is need-based and does not require an additional application.

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