Heather Holian

Heather Holian

Heather L. Holian, Professor of Art History
Associate Director of the School of Art
M.A., Ph.D., Indiana University
B.A. cum laude, University of Arizona

By training Dr. Heather Holian is an Italian Renaissance art historian with minors in Medieval and Roman Art. She routinely offers courses in these areas and for the UNCG School of Art she co-leads a bi-annual, four-week, on site study abroad program to Florence, Italy where she teaches ARH 395: Florence and the Medici and directs independent research for advanced art history majors.

For the last fifteen years, Dr. Holian’s research interests have focused on American studio animation. She is a specialist on the third decade of production at Pixar Animation Studios, where she gathered more than 100 hours of interviews with the studio’s artists, animators, and directors during that period. This research has appeared in edited volumes for Bloomsbury, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, McFarland, and the Animation Studies journal. (http://journal.animationstudies.org/heather-holian-art-animation-and-the-collaborative-process/) This research may be found on her Academica.edu site. Dr. Holian is currently working on a new book manuscript, Walt Disney and a New American Art: Buying, Selling and Exhibiting Animation Art During Disney’s Golden and Silver Ages. Her book deals with the history of early Disney art exhibitions (1932-66) and focuses on Disney and issues of American art and identity, the democratization of art ownership, the premiere art exhibition, and the sale of Disney art by Guthrie Courvoisier. She has presented this work at multiple national and international conferences in the last year. Dr. Holian brings her animation research into the classroom through two art history courses ARH 210: Art of Disney and Pixar and ARH 360: Women Artists of Disney and Pixar Animation.

In the Fall of 2023, Dr. Holian and colleague, Dr. Emily Stamey, the Elizabeth McIver Weatherspoon Curator of Academic Programming and Head of Exhibitions, are co-curating the exhibition, A Golden Age: Original Animation Art from the Walt Disney Studios, 1937–42 at the Weatherspoon Art Museum on the UNCG campus. The show features approximately 40 works from a private collection. Dr. Holian wrote the didactic labels and accompanying essay, “Walt Disney Originals: Behind the Magic and Marketing of the Studios’ Golden Age,” for the show which runs from August 19-December 9. The exhibition also launches the Weatherspoon’s new Margaret and Bill Benjamin Faculty Fellowship with Dr. Holian serving as its inaugural fellow.

Dr. Holian is Head of Membership and Mentoring for DisNet, the Disney Culture and Society Research Network. She also serves on the editorial board for The International Journal of Disney Studies.

Both in her classes and her scholarship, Dr. Holian explores art through social, cultural, formalist, iconographic, and feminist methodologies. Her Renaissance interests focus on sixteenth and seventeenth century Italian court portraiture, and particularly that of women and daughters belonging to the Medici family of Florence. Her published articles on the topic explore the function of jewelry as dynastic “marker” within portraits of Medici women and marriageable girls, and the related social issue of women as dynastic commodity during this period, as communicated through these loaded images. Her articles on the subject may also be easily located on Academia.edu.