AIA News

May 19, 2021

2021 Graduate Student Paper Award Winner Announced

Tara Trahey is selected as the 2021 First Prize Graduate Student Paper Award Winner.
Photo courtesy of Tara Trahey.

The Archaeological Institute of America is pleased to bestow First Prize for the 2021 Graduate Student Paper Award to Tara Trahey for her paper, “The Brother-and-Sister Stele Sphinx has a vagina.” Taking the well-known Brother-and-Sister stele in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as its main subject, with reference to the material evidence in other examples of sculpted sphinxes from the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, Trahey makes the astute observation that the sphinxes depicted have clearly articulated female genitalia. This previously unnoticed detail allows Trahey to offer a rich argument connecting the sphinx with female daemons and the divinities kidnapping youths depicted in other Greek funerary monuments and vase painting. This research, which suggests a protective dimension to sphinx imagery, has implications for the interpretation of the mythic and iconographic traditions of the sphinx across many media, and particularly invites radical reconsideration of the function of sphinx imagery on funerary stelae, in sculpture, and in vase painting of the Archaic and Classical periods. The Graduate Student Paper Award winner from the 2021 Annual Meeting was chosen at the culmination of the meeting’s activities. Trahey will be honored at the Awards Ceremony in conjunction with the 2022 Annual Meeting.

About Tara Trahey
Tara is a fifth-year doctoral candidate at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. She is currently working on her dissertation entitled, “The Sphinx in Context: A Study of the Winged Monster in the Greek World and Pre-Roman Italy.” Tara received her B.A. from Duke University in Art History/Visual Arts and European and Italian Studies. She received her M.A. from Oxford University in Classical Archaeology, as an Ertegun Scholar. Tara is originally from Concord, NC and currently lives and works remotely in Durham, NC with her husband.

Fun Facts about Tara
• She has a one-toothed senior cat named Sadie.
• She entered her undergraduate degree with a focus in studio art and still works in visual practice – painting, drawing, textiles, and graphic design.
• She is fascinated by street art and graffiti and once made a documentary about deinstitutionalized art in Queens and the Bronx.
• She’s a longtime competitive volleyball player and recently made the switch from indoor courts to beach.

About the Graduate Student Paper Award
The Graduate Student Paper Award (GSPA) was established to recognize graduate students for their substantial contributions to the success of the Annual Meeting. If you are a graduate student planning to submit a paper for next year’s Annual Meeting, we encourage you to apply. The award is by self-nomination and submissions remain anonymous throughout the award selection process. In order to be eligible, you must check the box labeled “Graduate student paper award” on the Open Session Submission Form that reads, “I am a graduate student and sole author of this paper and wish to be considered for the Graduate Student Paper Award.” If you are presenting as part of a session, you need to remind your session chair to check this box for you when they submit all of the session materials. Only graduate students who have a paper accepted by the Program for the Annual Meeting Committee and have checked the box on the Open Submission Form will be eligible for the award. Click here for more information on how to apply for the Graduate Student Paper Award.

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