UALR Art History major Alex Leme of São Paulo, Brazil, has been awarded a Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) to conduct in-depth research in his discipline under the supervision of a faculty member.
The SURF award from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education will allow Leme, a UALR Donaghey scholar, to work under the supervision of art history Professor Floyd Martin.
Using his experience as a professional photographer and his studies in art history, Leme plans to examine photography and surrealism in Paris between the two world wars.
Most discussions about surrealism and photography focus on images that have been manipulated in the dark room. Leme’s work will focus on “straight” photography – no darkroom manipulations – and how it can subvert the medium’s apparent realism and create the surreal.
He will look specifically at photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eugène Atget, André Kertész, and George Brassaï.
Leme, who studied French during a Donaghey study abroad trip to Paris, will use the funds he receives from the SURF grant to return to the city of lights and access the library and museum collections there. These collections contain both photographs and related documents, including letters and essays by the photographers he is studying as well as other figures such as the surrealist writer Andre Breton.
“For any student of art history, being able to do research in museums and libraries is a wonderful opportunity, especially in a situation like this where Alex will also be in the place that is the subject of so much of the photography,” Martin said.