By training Dr. Heather L. Holian is an Italian Renaissance art historian with minors in Medieval and Roman Art. She routinely offers upper level courses in these areas and 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 majors. Additionally, Dr. Holian teaches the Art of Disney and Pixar (ARH 210) and is currently working on a book-length project, which investigates the collaborative process and the role of the individual artist at Pixar Animation Studios. Dr. Holian’s most recent publication, “Thoughts on (Pixar) Animators as (Professional) Masqueraders,” appeared in Masquerade: Essays on Traditions and Innovation Worldwide, edited by Dr. Deborah Bell and published by McFarland and Co. Publishers in late 2014. Her forthcoming essay “A Brave Collaboration: A Case Study of Collaborative Dynamics and Collective Imagination within the Pixar Art Department,” will be published in the volume, Redefining Creativity: Multi-Layered Collaboration in Art and Art Historical Practice, edited by Drs. Sunny Spillane and Kathryn Shields and released by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2016.
Dr. Holian also actively presents her animation research at national and international conferences. In November 2015 she will deliver a paper at the Toy Story at 20 conference hosted by the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies at Sunderland University, Great Britain.
Dr. Holian’s 2013 article, “Art, Animation and Collaboration,” published in the peer-reviewed journal, Animation Studies may be found here: (http://journal.animationstudies.org/heather-holian-art-animation-and-the-collaborative-process/)
For more on Dr. Holian's Pixar research, check out the article in the Spring 2014 UNCG Research Magazine. Click on this interactive link and forward to page 22.
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 article, “The Claiming Crown: Politics, Dynasty, and Gender in State Portraits of Medici Women,” published in the peer-reviewed journal, Explorations in Renaissance Culture, won the Albert W. Fields Award for the most distinguished essay published by the journal in 2010.