B.A., Yale University; J.D., University of Virginia; M. Phil., Ph.D., Yale University
Senior Lecturer in Art
Specialist in Latin American art, focusing on modern Mexican art and architecture, through museum as well as academic projects.
As both scholar and curator, my research focuses on modern Mexican art, from the 1910 Revolution through the 1960s, though I often venture further afield, to places like Venezuela and Argentina, or the U.S. Southwest. I am particularly interested in U.S.-Mexican cultural interchange; my first major project was called South of the Border: Mexico in the American Imagination, 1914-1947 (1993). Sometimes I narrow in on very specific topics (a particular mural by Orozco, for example); other times I cast my net widely. In fact, my research interests are pretty diverse: from the Mexican "surrealist" Pedro Friedeberg (b. 1936) to 1930s political prints to art-deco architecture in Argentina to an "archive" of fake works by Frida Kahlo (which I have attacked in the press). My current project (2010) is a survey textbook on Mexican art for the Thames and Hudson World of Art series, forcing me to synthesize, synthesize.
Although Wellesley long had one of the world's great scholars of Mexican colonial architecture on its faculty (John McAndrew), Latin American art has only been taught here since the mid-1990s. My lectures focus on the history of Mexico from the ancient through modern eras (a student once called my survey class "Mayas to Tamayos"). In more focused seminars, we might deal with public art in Mexico and the United States, the representation of Mexico in cinema, or exhibitions of Latin American art. As well as teaching students how to look carefully and critically, I want them all to be careful and critical writers, and thus push them hard. One of my proudest achievements is having five former students go on to pursue Ph.D.'s in Latin American art.
In 2002 I was appointed adjunct curator of Latin American art at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center, where I advise on exhibitions and acquisitions. In fact, the pursuit of great objects for the DMCC is one of my greatest passions in life. I only teach in the spring semester: The rest of the year I live in Mexico City where I work as an independent curator and art historian. I have organized several major exhibitions in the United States and Mexico, and often advise collectors, curators, and visiting scholars on the art world there. Sometimes I serve on dissertation committees for students at Mexico's National University, though I prefer to confine my teaching energy to Wellesley.
I am obsessed by art and architecture, so "vacations" (I especially love traveling with friends) often entail intense museum visits (eight hours in the Prado, six in the Hermitage...) or doing something like driving 400 miles to see an art-deco slaughterhouse on the Argentine pampas. Many of my best friends are contemporary artists, so going to openings is essential. On a Sunday morning in Mexico City you'll find me at the flea market. One of my greatest regrets: traveling so much that I can't (to be fair about it) have a dog.