Dr. Kate Elliott joined the Luther Faculty in 2010, where she is an Assistant Professor of Art History and Curator of the Fine Arts Collection. She teaches the range of Art History courses at Luther including the two-semester Survey of Western Art, American Art, Art of the 20th century, Contemporary Art and Ethics (a Paideia II course), Native American, and Nineteenth-century Art.
Her dissertation, “Epic Encounters: First Contact Imagery in Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth Century American Art” examines images of contact in American history painting from the 1830s through the Progressive Era. She is particularly interested in why the subject of the first meetings of European explorers and Native Americans had such longevity in America and how these images communicated vastly different messages at different moments in American history. First Contact images were integrally tied to the construction of a set of origin myths for the new country, a central concern for nineteenth-century artists. Her dissertation argues that, regardless of historical period, this mythologizing of North American explorers and their first encounters with Native peoples was an integral part of the process of understanding the current direction of the nation.
Dr. Elliott has been the recipient of several grants and fellowship to further her research, including the Wyeth Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, sponsored by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, The United States Capitol Historical Society Fellowship, Washington D.C. and the H. George and Jutta F. Anderson Faculty Development Fund from Luther College.
She is currently working on a project concerning Herbjørn Gausta, a late nineteenth-century Norwegian-American painter, who immigrated to America in 1867. As an adult, Gausta traveled between Norway and the Upper Midwest, painting portraits of prominent Norwegian-Americans, religious works, and lovely genre scenes depicting life in this region, as well as life back in Norway.
Dr. Elliott also recently published an article, "Reclaiming the Land, Reclaiming the Indian: The La Salle Series of George Catlin". It is an examination of George Catlin's series of paintings depicting La Salle's travels through North America and the statements his pieces make about Native American culture.