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African American Female Preservationist Wins Adele Chatfield-Taylor Rome Award

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The American Academy (AAR) in Rome has awarded Monica Rhodes, the Adele Chatfield-Taylor Rome Prize in historic preservation and conservation.

Rhodes, one of few academically trained African American preservationists, with 15 years under her belt in the act of protecting the nation’s history,
has meritoriously joined the most diverse Rome Prize cohort. She was among 37 Rome Prize winners selected out of nearly 1,000 applicants.

As a Rome Prize winner, she will receive a stipend, workspace, and room and board at the Academy’s 11-acre campus on the Janiculum Hill in Rome, Italy, beginning in September.

Established in 1894, the AAR is America’s oldest overseas center for independent studies and advanced research in the arts and humanities. The academy has since evolved to become a more global and diverse base for artists and scholars to live and work in Rome.

The residential community includes a wide range of scholarly and artistic disciplines, which is representative of the United States and is fully engaged with Italy and contemporary international exchange. The support provided by the academy to Rome Prize and Italian Fellows, and invited Residents, helps strengthen the arts and humanities.

For over 125 years, the AAR has awarded the Rome Prize to support innovative and cross-disciplinary work in the arts and humanities. Each year, the prize is awarded to about 30 artists and scholars who represent the highest standard of excellence and who are in the early or middle stages of their careers.

Throughout her career, Rhodes has helped raise and manage over $150 million, directed preservation activities in 46 states, and completed projects in over 100 national parks. She also developed the first national program centered on diversifying the preservation trades and the heritage industry.

In addition, she equally led efforts to reinstitute substantial programs in the nation to preserve national parks that tell stories related to African American, LatinX, and Women’s history.

While reacting to the conferment of the award on her, the 38 years old winner she said: “I am honored to be here and thrilled to get the opportunity to leverage this experience to help shape the future of preservation. My work is grounded in the pursuit to ensure every aspect of American history is accounted for, and this honor is a steppingstone to making sure that happens”.

Rhodes received her undergraduate degree in History at the University of Tulsa and a Master’s degree in African American Studies at Temple University, completing her studies with a second Master’s degree in Historic Preservation. Currently, she is a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University working to expand the field of preservation to new audiences.

President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of American Academy in Rome, Mark Robbins said this year’s Rome Prize winners and Italian Fellows represent the diversity of the United States, adding that their projects build on the Academy’s commitment to the global impact of the arts and humanities.

“These fellowships are transformative, and we look forward to seeing the ways this experience is translated in the work to come”, he stressed.

Nationwide, the Rome Prize competition received 909 applications, representing 47 U.S. states and territories and 19 different countries. Thirty-three Rome Prizes were awarded to 37 individuals (four prizes are collaborations), representing an acceptance rate of 3.6 percent. This group of Rome Prize winners is among the most diverse in the Academy’s history.

Approximately 46 percent of the winners identify as persons of color, representing a new high for this demographic. Notably, twenty-four percent of the Rome Prize winners were born outside the United States. Ages of the incoming group range from 27 to 67, with an average age of 43.

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