Presented to the graduating art history major with the highest cumulative and major G.P.A.
A native Northern Virginian, Janie Ritter is a senior in the Honors College at George Mason University completing majors in art history and psychology, with a minor in studio art. Janie applies her experiences in psychology to investigating the motivations and patterns of behavior of both artists and art audiences. In 2019 she explored the theories and practices of depicting the nude female figure in 17th century Dutch art, questioning specifically why Rembrandt made a dramatic departure from traditional styles. In addition to earning the 2021 Outstanding Project Award, this research will also be presented at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in the spring of 2021. Janie’s current area of study focuses on audience experience—the viewer’s engagement with art—what an individual brings to the artwork and what they in turn receive from it. She is currently working on an undergraduate thesis investigating audience engagement with abstract art and how museum displays influence that engagement. After graduation Janie plans to be involved with the Prison Arts Programs and explore different approaches of using art to create a bridge between incarcerated individuals and the greater community.