AIA News

September 20, 2011

Beyond the Dig: Scenes from Mongolia

by Colleen O’Shea

Camels Moving Through Camp, Khovd Province

Colleen O’Shea was one of the 2010 recipients of the Jane C. Waldbaum Archaeological Field School Scholarship. A post-Baccalaureate student from the University of Michigan, she majored in Russian and Eastern European Studies, and the History of Art. Using the Scholarship award, Colleen participating in the Khovd Project in Khovd-Altai, Mongolia, co-sponsored by the Silk Road Foundation and the National Museum of Mongolia and directed by Bryan Miller. “My time spent on the dig in Mongolia reaffirmed my career choice (art conservation), and left a deep impression on me artistically. I’ve spent the past six months working on a series of ten etchings with Mongolia as the subject matter.”

She has provided an artist’s statement to accompany the etchings:  “We drove out to the archaeological site in far Western Mongolia: through the south of the country, skirting the edge of the Gobi Desert, arriving after three days. During lunch breaks on site, I would hike up into the mountains and draw. On the way back, we took a northern route and made a few stops along the way, taking six days. I saw a lot of the country in the end, and I was stunned by its vast space. People are dwarfed there; the landscape takes over. I felt like every inch of the landscape was worthy of description.”

Colleen has graciously allowed the AIA to display the series of etchings at its Boston headquarters, at 44 Beacon Street. “I thought it would be a great way to demonstrate just how important and far-reaching scholarship funding can be.”

You can view her artwork at


Read about Colleen’s field school experience

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