Loyola University Chicago

Department of History


Junior Amanda Malmstrom Wins Myser Research Grant

Junior Amanda Malmstrom Wins Myser Research Grant

Amanda Malmstrom, a junior History and Art History major currently enrolled in the Ramonat Seminar, was recently awarded a Myser Research Grant to travel to the Ade Bethune Collection at St. Catherine's University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Malmstrom is currently working on a research project tentatively entitled "Labor of Love: The Women Artists of The Catholic Worker Newspaper." In this project, she is focusing on the artwork of Ade Bethune and Rita Corbin as a lens into gender, social activism, and art in the Catholic Worker Movement.

As Malmstrom explains, "The Catholic Worker newspaper was started in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. The newspaper was as a part of the larger Catholic Worker Movement dedicated to performing the Corporal Works of Mercy, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. The newspaper heavily featured Bethune and Corbin’s artwork, illuminating the ideas of the movement. My project will be a digital exhibit that will expand the potential audience of Bethune and Corbin’s artwork while fostering knowledge of Catholic Worker art, the role women played in the Church in the twentieth century, and the larger history of Catholic social activism. The main themes I want to explore are the style and implications of Bethune and Corbin’s artwork, the role of women in the Church and Catholic Worker Movement, and the social justice nature of twentieth-century liturgical art."

This project is part of Malmstrom's work in the Ramonat Seminar, an interdisciplinary, two-semester history course which provides undergraduates with the opportunity to research American Catholic history. This year's seminar is taught by Professor Michelle Nickerson. This project, Malmstrom says, is a product of both her interest in the Catholic Worker Movement and her background in art history. "Since I am an Art History major and someone who has been personally influenced by Dorothy Day’s outlook on spirituality and justice, I knew when I applied for the seminar that I would want to focus on art in relation to the Catholic Worker Movement." Later, she says, "I came across what was termed the 'Holy Trinity of Artists'—Ade Bethune, Fritz Eichenberg, and Rita Corbin. These three individuals were the most prolific of The Catholic Worker artists. I later decided that I wanted to narrow by research to Ade Bethune and Rita Corbin, and focus the relationship between gender, social activism, and art within the Catholic Worker Movement."

The Myser Research Grant will allow Malmstrom to work directly with primary sources related to Ade Bethune. "The collection," Malmstrom says, "is a very rich resource of Ade Bethune’s papers, books, artwork, correspondence, book manuscripts, drawings, memorabilia, sketchbooks, photographs, journals, engravings, and more. Visiting the archive will be a valuable resource for me to retrieve scans of the artwork for my digital project as well as retrieve additional information about Ade Bethune’s involvement with the newspaper."

Malmstrom, a junior, is excited about the ways in which this project intersect with her interest in social justice work. "Although I don’t know exactly where I will be after graduation, I know that I want whatever I do—whether graduate school, teaching, volunteering, or working in a museum--to be able to share art and its potential to serve as a testament to love and justice with others."