Since Kendra Lyimo was a child, her father has regularly traveled to his native Tanzania and returned with beaded necklaces, carved figurines and other items of sentimental and cultural value, fostering a lifelong interest in East African art and identity for the University of Notre Dame junior.
“By making art an integral part of my everyday life, my father spurred my interest in the value and history of art — an interest I have chosen to continue at the post-secondary level,” Lyimo said.
Now, the art history major, who is pursuing a supplementary major in global affairs, will have the opportunity to pursue her passion for art and art history even further — as one of 19 Beinecke Scholars in the 2023 cohort.
Emily Hunt is student engagement program manager with the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), which promotes the intellectual development of Notre Dame undergraduates through scholarly engagement, research, creative endeavors and the pursuit of fellowships.
“I am thrilled that Kendra was named a 2023 Beinecke Scholar, which signals her extraordinary potential as a scholar of East African art,” Hunt said. “Throughout her three years at Notre Dame, she has taken advantage of grant funding opportunities, research training through the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, professional development through her work with the Snite Museum of Art, and meaningful mentorship from faculty and staff. Coupled with her genuine personal motivation, this preparation made her an ideal candidate for the highly selective application process.”
Established in 1971 by the board of directors of the Sperry and Hutchinson Co., the Beinecke Scholarship seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to “be courageous in the selection of a graduate course of study in the arts, humanities and social sciences.”
Scholars receive $5,000 upfront, for application and other expenses, plus $30,000 while attending graduate school.
“I seek to conduct research that enriches the art history canon, sharing ideas with fellow scholars and curious students in hopes that my efforts may inspire future research in the field. “It is equally, if not more, important to me that I devote myself to carrying out this research in a way that uplifts the communities about which I speak and shares ideas in an accessible yet thought-provoking way.”
A first-generation college student from a working-class background, Lyimo, a native of Minnesota, has distinguished herself as a serious scholar of East African art and identity and the art of the African diaspora during her time at Notre Dame.
She assisted Tatiana Reinoza, assistant professor of art history, with the creation and curation of “All My Ancestors: The Spiritual in Afro-Latinx Art” at the Brandywine Workshop and archives in Philadelphia. She also served as a research assistant in the Department of Art, Art History and Design and at the Snite Museum of Art and as an undergraduate research fellow with the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, where she assisted with a biography of Black activist and educator Ericka Huggins.
Last summer, she researched art in Kenya and Tanzania with support from a Gero Family Travel Grant from the Department of Art, Art History and Design. She also traveled to Ireland, where she researched contemporary Irish designers through the Notre Dame Dublin Global Gateway.
Currently, she is researching expressions of multicultural identity in the work of contemporary Afro-Italian artists as a Rome International Scholar working out of the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway.
As a Beinecke Scholar, Lyimo plans to study art and art history with the goal of advancing scholarship around East African art and its ideas and expanding access to East African art through teaching and outreach.
“I seek to conduct research that enriches the art history canon, sharing ideas with fellow scholars and curious students in hopes that my efforts may inspire future research in the field,” Lyimo said. “It is equally, if not more, important to me that I devote myself to carrying out this research in a way that uplifts the communities about which I speak and shares ideas in an accessible yet thought-provoking way.”
For more on this and other scholarship opportunities, visit cuse.nd.edu.