Public Program

In Dialogue: On an Ancient Votive Figure

In Dialogue: On an Ancient Votive Figure

Sarah Kielt Costello, associate professor of Art History at the University of Houston–Clear Lake, joins the Menil’s Curatorial Associate, Danielle Smotherman Bennett, for an in-depth discussion about an ancient votive figure of a standing man in the museum’s collection, currently on view. The program will illuminate the long life of this Sumerian statue, created over 4,000 years ago, including evidence for both ancient and modern repairs. Costello and Bennett also discuss how scholars approach the study of such objects today.

This program is organized in conjunction with the 2021 Menil Collection publication Object Biographies: Collaborative Approaches to Ancient Mediterranean Art. This innovative anthology discusses a variety of ancient Mediterranean objects in the Menil Collection and three other US institutions, including a chapter by Costello on this votive figure. It offers new models for understanding works from antiquity that lack archaeological context. For further information and to purchase a copy, please visit the Menil Bookstore.

About the speakers:

Sarah Kielt Costello, PhD, has taught art history at UHCL since 2014. She was the recipient of the University of Houston Provost’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2012. Dr. Costello’s research focus is the visual culture of the early periods of the Ancient Near East. In her writing, she investigates the social contexts of visual culture, especially how people store and communicate ideas, and how imagery relates to religion. She is a project leader of a collaborative research initiative with Houston’s Menil Collection, focused on the art of the ancient Mediterranean world. She has conducted field research in Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, and Greece, and in 2013 studied in Greece as a Fulbright Fellow in the summer session at the American School of Classical Studies.

Danielle Smotherman Bennett, PhD, is the curatorial associate of collections and is responsible for researching the ancient world collection, which includes objects spanning from 15,000 BCE to the 4th century CE. She received her BA in Art History and Archaeology from the University of Missouri and her MA and PhD in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College with a specialty in Athenian vase-painting. She has excavated multi-period sites in Greece, Italy, Turkey, and England spanning from the Bronze Age to the Medieval periods as well as taught at multiple universities, most recently San Diego State University.