Fulbright Win for MADA PhD candidate

Monash Art, Design and Architecture’s own PhD candidate Hilary Thurlow has recently been accepted for the Fulbright Scholarship, to travel to the USA as part of her research. Hilary’s PhD focuses on the gap in studies of the work of USA based Cuban artist Tania Bruguera.

Hilary Thurlow receiving the Fulbright scholarship.

In late 2019, Hilary Thurlow discovered the work of Cuban artist and political activist Tania Bruguera through casual work at a commercial gallery in Brisbane. The gallery ended up working alongside Bruguera’s studio. It was this that began Hilary’s research into the artist, starting with Bruguera’s project ‘Nirin’ for the 2020 Sydney Biennale. During this research period it became clear to Hilary that there was a gap in research for Bruguera’s practice, which although a surprise, provided an opportunity for specific research into the artist.

With a plan to originally do a coursework postgraduate course, the pandemic shifted Hilary’s goals, as she looked towards instead doing a research-based postgraduate project. Hilary Thurlow was originally enrolled in a master’s course at Monash before supervisors encouraged her to take her research further and pursue a PhD.

During the process of considering a master’s degree and talking to various mentors, Monash University stood out, with Dr Helen Hughes as a great fit for supervising Hilary’s research. As part of the master’s program Hilary had the chance to travel to Europe with a grant specifically for master’s students to take their studies overseas for wider research, but travelling to the USA where Tania Bruguera is based was always on her mind.

Hilary Thurlow.

Knowing that she would have to travel to the USA at some point due to Tania Bruguera being based there, Hilary found out about the Fulbright Scholarship through friends who had applied in past years. A specific stream of the Fulbright Scholarship was targeted towards PhD students hoping to travel to the US, so Hilary made the transition from the master’s program to PhD and applied.

The Fulbright Scholarship application was lengthy and arduous, as was the process of applying for a USA visa.

“There were so many hurdles, I’m honestly very lucky.” Hilary said.

Post-COVID, the interviews for the Fulbright scholarship are held online although all the interviewers, university representatives from the Fulbright commission, were based in Victoria.

Hilary Thurlow’s journey to the USA with the Fulbright Scholarship begins in August, where she will have 6 months to complete research work into Tania Bruguera’s practice for her PhD ‘Exploring the life and work of the Cuban artist and political activist, Tania Bruguera.’