Michael Chen, a Ph.D. Candidate in NELC, has received the J. Clawson Mills Scholarship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the 2018-2019 academic year. He will be an Art History Fellow hosted by the Department of Egyptian Art, and he will examine the corpus of Late Period Egyptian healing statues as part of his dissertation project. Michael’s dissertation wrestles with the interrelationship between healing practices and religion. Healing statues functioned within the temple space of the official Egyptian state religion yet targeted an audience of ordinary individuals, so his dataset illustrates how magic serves as an intermediary alternative in restricted religious domains. His project investigates how access to magic can (co-)exist within religious traditions, and more importantly, how individuals effectively use magic to negotiate their relationship to the temple, toward religious belief, and in comparison with one another.
During his fellowship year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Michael will develop a systematic analysis of the mythological power scenes found on these healing statues. He hopes to complete two chapters of his dissertation during the course of the fellowship (“Analysis of Layout and Design of Spell Texts” and “Iconographic and Art Historical Analysis”). Michael is extremely excited by the encyclopedia breadth of the Met’s collections and resources and hopes that the fellowship period will foster opportunities to think comparatively about the larger social and religious questions tied to his dissertation.