Dr. Bryan J. Zygmont is a scholar of eighteenth and nineteenth-century American art, history, and culture. He graduated from the University of Arizona with his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1998, and then completed his Masters degree there two years later. His masters thesis, “The Return of the Prodigal: The New York Patronage of Gilbert Stuart, 1793-1795,” was written while a Graduate Student Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 2000.
Zygmont began his doctoral studies in the art history and archaeology department at the University of Maryland in the fall of 2001, and earned his Ph.D. in May 2006. His dissertation explores the interaction between aesthetics and politics in New York City portraiture between 1790 and 1825. Zygmont was awarded both the Mark K. Sandler Award for Teaching Excellence in the Department of Art History and Archaeology and the Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award by the University of Maryland’s Center for Teaching Excellence. The following year, 2005, Zygmont shared (with Flora Vilches) the inaugural Kathy Canavan Award for Community Development, now given yearly by the University of Maryland’s Department of Art History and Archaeology. Zygmont was a visiting scholar at the National Portrait Gallery during 2005 and 2006, and was awarded a Henry R. Luce Foundation Dissertation Research Award in American Art in 2005. In addition to teaching at the University of Arizona and University of Maryland, Zygmont has also taught at Trinity College, The George Washington University, and Northwest Missouri State University.
Zygmont joined the faculty of Clarke University in 2007 as an assistant professor of art history. Since that time he has published a book-length study on American portraiture, Portraiture and Politics in New York City, 1790-1825: Gilbert Stuart, John Vanderlyn, John Trumbull, and John Wesley Jarvis (2008) and given lectures around the globe. In 2008, Zygmont was a Fellow at the Summer Institute for Infusing Japan Studies into the undergraduate curriculum at the Freeman Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii. The following summer, he presented a lecture, “Charles Willson Peale’s Exhumation of the Mastodon and the Great Chain of Being: The Interaction of Religion, Science, and Art in early-Federal America” at St. Anne’s College, Oxford University. An avid traveler, he has led a group of Clarke students to Rome, Sienna, and Florence, and spent five weeks in Poland during the summer of 2010 as a part of a Group Study Exchange through the Rotary International. Most recently, Zygmont was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Łódź in Poland. While there he taught a class on the interaction between aesthetics and politics in American art, and another course on the depiction of family and immigration in American cinema. During his six months abroad, he visited nine counties and sampled more than 8-dozen kinds of beer.
Zygmont is currently Contributing Editor of American Art at Smarthistory (www.smarthistory.khanacademy.com), a peer-reviewed, online, art history textbook and a regular contributor to his local newspaper, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.