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Molly Katharine Thrailkill is a PhD student in the Visual Studies program at the University of California, Irvine. Her areas of interest include the history and theory of photography, American art and visual culture, and new media (with a particular focus on digital rendering and photorealism). She currently lives in Koreatown, Los Angeles, after a decade of residence in New York.  While back East, she attended Colgate University as an undergraduate, completed her master's degree in the History of Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and worked for several years in management at artnet Auctions. 

Education

PhD | Visual Studies
University of California, Irvine | Irvine, CA
Fall 2017 to Spring 2022 (anticipated)

MA | History of Art
The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU | New York, NY
Fall 2014 to Spring 2017

BA | Art & Art History and French
Colgate University | Hamilton, NY
Fall 2005 to Spring 2009

Study Abroad
Université de Bourgogne (through Colgate University) | Dijon, France
Spring 2008

San Francisco University High School | San Francisco, CA
Fall 2001 to Spring 2005

HONORS & AWARDS

2017 | Master’s thesis passed with distinction
2009 | Colgate University Award for Excellence in French
2009 | Gamma Sigma Alpha National Greek Academic Honor Society
2009 | Colgate University Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence
2008 | Colgate University Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence
2007 | Colgate University Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence
2006 | Colgate University Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence
2005 | Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society for First-Year Students

Teaching

Teaching Assistant | Art History
University of California, Irvine | Irvine, CA
Fall 2018 to present

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Freelance Researcher
Alley Cat Rescue | Los Angeles, CA
August 2018 to present

Business Director
artnet Auctions | New York, NY
July 2015 to August 2016

Business Manager
artnet Auctions | New York, NY
January 2013 to July 2015

Cataloguer
artnet Auctions | New York, NY
February 2011 to January 2013

Photographs Department Intern
artnet Auctions | New York, NY
October 2010 to February 2011

Gallery Intern
Lori Bookstein Fine Art | New York, NY
October 2009 to August 2010

Public Relations Intern
Blue Medium | New York, NY
October 2009 to March 2010

Student Intern
Picker Art Gallery, Colgate University | Hamilton, NY
Fall 2008 to Spring 2009

ACTIVITIES

Cat Foster
Alley Cat Rescue | Los Angeles, CA
Summer 2018

Volunteer
The Morgan Library | New York, NY
April 2011 to February 2012

General Manager
Colgate Student Theatre | Hamilton, NY
September 2008 to May 2009

House Manager
Delta Delta Delta | Hamilton, NY
September 2008 to May 2009

 

THE RATIONALIZATION OF TREES: DIGITIZING GROWTH AND MOVEMENT


Graduate seminar paper completed at the University of California, Irvine, Winter 2018. 

This project considers digital rendering as a process that directly confronts challenges in apprehending what I have termed the time-based materiality of trees.  The movement of a tree—itself a collection of component parts such as branches or leaves that may all move and shift in varied fashion—is immensely complex and its growth is perhaps most easily perceived over the timescale of years and decades.  The task of rendering a tree digitally is therefore not only a process of simulation, but one of assimilation, where movement becomes rational, algorithmic, and growth is sped up and thus made comprehensible for the human subject.

#EATDISNEYLAND: PHOTOGRAPHY, INGESTION, AND THE THEME PARK


Graduate seminar paper completed at the University of California, Irvine, Fall 2017. 

In this paper, I undertake an analysis of tourist photographs of themed food within the Disney parks, specifically the phenomenon of posting pictures to Instagram that prominently feature Disney street foods, all framed against the backdrop of iconic park landmarks.  By relating this trend to the liturgical ritual of the Eucharist and other historical instances of the ingestion of sacred matter, I posit that these images record not only the consumption of themed food within the park, but rather suggest more explicitly that the topography of the park will be ingested through these mimetic miniatures and “park exclusive” foods, forging an inimitable connection between the body of the tourist, the physical site of the park, and Disney itself.

CODING THE ISLAMIC STATE'S MESSAGE TO AMERICA


Master’s thesis with distinction completed at The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, under advisor Professor Robert Slifkin, Spring 2018. 

This thesis explores the dissemination of still frames culled from videos produced by the Islamic State, including the purported documentation of the death of American journalist James Foley.  In this project, I argue that the act of translation from video into the more mutable medium of photography allows the resultant images to be imbued with new and diverse meaning, and facilitates seemingly contradictory modes of transmission: as documentary photojournalism in traditional news media, and as illicit tools for recruitment via networks of social media.

ARCHITECTURAL PSEUDO-PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE DIGITAL MODELING OF LOUIS KAHN'S UNREALIZED SPACES


Graduate seminar paper completed at The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, Spring 2016.
 
This paper centers on architect Kent Larson’s renderings, published in 2000, of Louis Kahn’s unbuilt projects.  Here I argue that the photographic acuity of these models, indebted to increasingly sophisticated computer-aided design technologies, demonstrates a tipping point in digital photorealism.  As such, Larson’s images fall easily within a tradition of classic architectural photography, yet eschew the camera—as well as any physical referent—entirely.

THE EARTHWORK IN THE AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION


Undergraduate senior thesis completed at Colgate University under advisor Professor Mary Ann Calo, Spring 2009.

In this project, I analyzed several examples of site-specific works and the means by which photographic reproductions informed the apprehension or perception of these works by remote viewers.  I sought to define a shared visuality between the physical works and their representations, specifically looking at the amplified aesthetic role of photographs in cases where the works are no longer extant, or have sustained notable degradation.