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Natalie Boymel Kampen: In Memoriam

posted by CAA — Sep 17, 2012

Natalie (Tally) Boymel Kampen, a pioneering feminist scholar and professor of Roman art history and gender studies, died on August 12, 2012, at her home in Wakefield, Rhode Island. She was 68 years old. Kampen taught graduate courses on the ancient world at Columbia University and undergraduate courses in feminist theory and gender studies at Barnard College, where she was the first faculty member to hold the endowed Barbara Novak chair in Art History and Women’s Studies, and became professor emerita in 2010. She was most recently a visiting professor of Roman art and architecture at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University and helped to administrate a Getty Foundation grant sponsoring international study of the art and architecture of the Roman provinces. She was one of the world’s most notable experts on the history of the Roman provinces.

An internationally recognized teacher and scholar, Kampen was a research fellow at Oxford University in 2000, received the 2004 Felix Neubergh Medal at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and was a visiting professor of art history at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, in 2010. As a senior scholar she was interested not only in promoting the careers of her Columbia students but also mentored graduate students from Eastern Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East. Kampen’s books include Image and Status: Roman Working Women in Ostia (Berlin: Mann, 1981) and Family Fictions in Roman Art (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009). She was the editor of Sexuality in Ancient Art (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996) and the author of numerous articles and chapters in scholarly journals, encyclopedias, and books, including Art Journal, American Journal of Archaeology, The Art Bulletin, and The Art of Citizens, Soldiers, and Freedmen in the Roman World (Oxford: British Archeological Reports, 2006), edited by Guy P. R. Métraux and Eve D’Ambra. Kampen served as chair of the Art Bulletin Editorial Board from 2009 to 2010. To mark the occasion of CAA’s Centennial in 2011, she helped compile the anthology of essays published in the journal from 1913 to the present; her informative introductory essay traces the inclusion of writers who were women and people of color as the century progressed.

Kampen was born on February 1, 1944, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Jules and Pauline (Friedman) Boymel. She was an enthusiastic supporter of left-wing causes from the 1950s to the present and played a key role in the struggle for women’s rights, in academia and beyond. As a dedicated scholar and pioneer in the field of women’s studies she raised several generations of women’s consciousness. Kampen received her BA and MA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965 and 1967 and her PhD from Brown University in 1976. She taught art history at the University of Rhode Island from 1969 to 1988, where she helped to found one of the first women’s studies programs in New England and became a lifelong patron of the Hera Gallery, a feminist artists’ collective in Wakefield, Rhode Island.

Kampen was an avid horseback rider and a lifelong owner of Labrador dogs. She was married to Michael Kampen from 1965 to 1969 and to John Dunnigan from 1978 to 1989. In all her pursuits, scholarly and otherwise, her generosity was extraordinary. She was famous as a beloved friend and colleague who nurtured lifelong friendships, forged groups of strangers into friends, and could change a person’s perspective on life after only an hour’s acquaintance in an airport. Even after the onset of her final illness, Kampen led a group of younger scholars to Greece, determined to work with them while she was still able to.

Natalie Boymel Kampen is survived by her sister, Susan Boymel Udin; her brother-in-law David; and her niece and nephew, Rachel and Michael Udin. Contributions can be made in Kampen’s name to Rhode Island Community Food Bank, 200 Niantic Avenue, Providence, RI 02907.

Filed under: Obituaries