Congratulations to Tiffany Garcia for winning this year’s Art History Symposium with her presentation “Signs and Symbols in the Index of American Design”!
She is majoring in Art History with a minor in Japanese language and hopes to pursue graduate school in the field of museum studies. Of the research, she says “In my essay, Signs and Symbols in the Index of American Design, I explore the symbolic meaning behind the Index of American Design. The Index was first imagined as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ initiatives in the 1930s. It was intended to offer work to unemployed visual artists by producing a comprehensive survey of American art and design through mimetic renderings. During its production, the Index served as both a practical design tool, as well as a symbol of American cultural heritage. Using a semiotic approach, I argue that the collection’s meaning has changed over time to function as a system of signs. Within that system, each painted rendering acts as an iconic sign of the original object, while the image itself changes meaning as part of the larger collection. In this way, the renderings function as symbols of American heritage rather than a single object.”