Terra Foundation Visiting Professor for 2021-22 will bring new perspectives on American art in a global context

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Professor Charlene Villaseñor Black, currently Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA, has been appointed as Oxford University’s sixth Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor for 2021-22.

The Terra Foundation Visiting Professorship is an annual appointment which was established in 2016 to promote the study of American art from a global perspective at the University of Oxford and beyond, thanks to funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art. Each Visiting Professor engages in advanced research in the visual arts of the United States, delivers public lectures and organises symposia that encourage international research collaboration. They also offer courses to undergraduate and graduate students.

Professor Villaseñor Black, who is a leading expert on a range of topics related to contemporary Latinx art, the early modern Iberian world and Chicanx studies, will begin her Visiting Professorship in October. She said: “Given the rich resources at Oxford for the study of art history, I am excited by the possibility of establishing close contacts with scholars there and elsewhere in the UK. I look forward to collaborating with colleagues in departments across Oxford and using the museum and library resources, which are unmatched in the world.”

Professor Villaseñor Black’s expertise will make a valuable contribution to the breadth of subjects offered as part of Oxford’s teaching and research in the History of Art. In 2016, she was awarded UCLA’s Gold Shield Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence for exceptional teaching, innovative research, and strong commitment to university services. Speaking about her teaching at Oxford, Professor Villaseñor Black said: “My proposed undergraduate course expands the definition of American art by positioning Hispanic art of the United States, from the 18th-century to the present day, at the heart of what it means to be ‘American’.”

The appointment has been warmly welcome by the University’s Department of History of Art. Professor Geoffrey Batchen, Head of Department, says: “The exciting thing about the scholarship of Charlene Villaseñor Black is the way it complicates the usual spatial and temporal boundaries of her discipline, bringing past and present, the Americas and Europe, and art and science into fruitful conversation. In this sense, her work promises to transform, not just the study of American art, but the field of art history as a whole.”

Professor Geraldine Johnson of the Department of History of Art says: “The Terra Foundation’s generous support of this initiative has allowed new and often unexpected connections to be forged between American art and many other subject areas across the collegiate University and beyond. Professor Villaseñor Black’s wide-ranging interests, from the art and architecture of the early modern Anglo-Iberian world to contemporary Latinx visual culture, will provide scholars and curators with new perspectives on American art in a global context.”

“We join the Department of History of Art in welcoming Professor Charlene Villaseñor Black to the University of Oxford,” says Terra Foundation for American Art Executive Vice President Amy Zinck. “Professor Villaseñor Black exemplifies the foundation’s commitment to expanding the narratives of American art to reveal more diverse histories that shape the artistic and cultural heritage of the United States.”

Professor Villaseñor Black is editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and founding editor-in-chief of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (UC Press). Her most recent books include Renaissance Futurities: Art, Science, Invention and Knowledge for Justice: An Ethnic Studies Reader (both from 2019), the new 2020 edition of The Chicano Studies Reader, and Autobiography without Apology: The Personal Essay in Latino Studies, which she co-edited.

While at Oxford, Professor Villaseñor Black will be conducting research related to her current book project and upcoming exhibition, to be mounted at USC’s Fisher Museum of Art in 2024, in collaboration with the California Institute of Technology’s Graduate Aerospace Laboratories. Entitled Verdant Worlds: Exploration and Sustainability across the Cosmos, this project takes as its theme the twin roots of exploration and sustainability in the early modern Hispanic-Anglosphere.

 The Terra Foundation for American Art supports individuals, organizations, and communities to advance expansive understandings of American art. Established in 1978 and headquartered in Chicago, with an office in Paris, its grant program, collection, and initiatives are committed to fostering cross-cultural dialogues on American art locally, nationally, and internationally.