Meet the IDSVA Core Faculty. Core faculty teach seminars, direct independent studies and dissertations, and serve as student advisors.
Core faculty teach seminars, direct independent studies and dissertations, and serve as student advisors. While the librarian serves on the core faculty, she does so as a part-time research advisor and also provides mini-seminars introducing students to IDSVA's virtual library.
Founder and President
Professor of Philosophy and Visual Culture
GEORGE SMITH has long been a leader and innovator in American education. As Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College at the Maine College of Art, Dr. Smith designed and founded one of America’s first low residency MFA programs. The first MFA curriculum to combine equal studies in art theory and studio practice, the MECA MFA has served as a model for change in American graduate education in the visual arts.
In 2006 Dr. Smith founded the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. IDSVA is the first and only school in the world to offer a PhD in philosophy for visual artists, curators, and creative scholars. Supported by a worldwide faculty of renowned scholars and artists, IDSVA offers low-residency multi-media digital instruction and holds residency intensives and conducts fieldwork in Rome, Spannocchia Castle (Tuscany), Siena, Florence, Berlin, Venice, Aix-en-Provence, Athens, and New York City.
Professor Smith serves on the IDSVA Core Faculty and writes on literature, the visual arts, visual culture, psychoanalytic theory, and philosophy of education. Forthcoming publications include “The Artist Philosopher and the New Philosophy,” in Artists with PhDs, second edition, James Elkins, ed., New Academy Press, and “The Art of Critique in the Age of Addiction,” in The Art of Critique, Stephen Knudsen, ed, Chicago UP.
Associate Professor of Art and Theory
Director of Topological Studies
SIMONETTA MORO is a visual artist and theorist, with a focus on painting, drawing and mapping practices. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally; recent exhibitions, presentations and publications include: Intangible: How Do Artists Draw the Undrawable? Lesley Heller Gallery, New York, 2014; Contemporary Cartographies, Lehman College Art Gallery, New York 2013; “Mapping Heterotopian Spaces: Affective Cartography as Artistic Practice,” paper for CAA 2013; “Peripatetic Box and Personal Mapping: From Studio to Classroom to City,” chapter for Mapping Cultures, ed. Les Roberts, Palgrave 2012. Moro graduated with a PhD in Fine Arts, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK; MA European Fine Arts, Winchester School of Art, UK; and BFA Painting, Accademia di Belle Arti, Bologna, Italy. Before coming to IDSVA she was Assistant Professor at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, and Parsons The New School for Design. Born in Italy, Simonetta Moro currently lives in New York City.
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
and Art Theory
CHRISTOPHER YATES received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston College in 2011. His academic areas of focus include the history of philosophy, aesthetics, and 19th-20th century Continental Philosophy. Having trained primarily in the phenomenological tradition, Yates’ scholarship focuses on movements such as historical ontology, hermeneutics, deconstruction, and post-structuralism, and on thinkers such as Kant, Husserl, Heidegger, Ricoeur, Derrida, Levinas, and Foucault. His book, The Poetic Imagination in Heidegger and Schelling, appeared in 2013 (Bloomsbury) and he co-edited Philosophy and the Return of Violence in 2011 (Continuum). Prior to joining IDSVA in 2014, Yates’ teaching experience included courses in areas such as aesthetics and art theory, ethics, 20th century philosophy, existentialism, and environmental ethics. He is currently working on a research project that explores the question of meaning in the artistic image, and is contributing to an interdisciplinary project concerning the significance of the arts and architecture for urban revitalization. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Professor of Philosophy, Aesthetics
and Visual Culture
HOWARD CAYGILL is a philosopher and cultural historian who was educated at Bristol, Sussex and Oxford Universities in the UK. Most recently serving on the faculties of Goldsmiths, Kingston and Paris VIII Howard Caygill is the author of several acclaimed books including A Kant Dictionary, Walter Benjamin: The Colour of Experience, On Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance and most recently Kafka: In Light of the Accident. He is currently working on the philosophy and aesthetics of the anthropocene and the role of philosophy in curating and interpreting the art of produced by inmates of mental hospitals during the first half of the Twentieth Century. He lives between Athens and Barton-on-Sea on the south coast of England.
LAURA GRAVELINE earned her MLIS from the University of Rhode Island, and a BA from the University of Massachusetts in Art History, with a minor in Studio Art. Her reviews are published in Art Libraries Journal, and Art Documentation, and her most recent article is “Uncommon Partners: Facilitating Creative Collaborations in the Arts Across Campus,” College & Undergraduate Libraries, 2009. Laura is also the Visual Arts Librarian for Dartmouth College.
The IDSVA Visiting Faculty brings together major philosophers, artists, and scholars from around the world. These internationally renowned educators join students at residency sites and lead seminar discussions about the site's historical, aesthetic, and ideological significance. Visiting Faculty maintain teaching relationships with IDSVA on an ongoing basis, some returning to teach or give lectures every year, others according to availability and current interests.
David Driskell was elected to the National Academy in 2000 and honored at the University of Maryland by the establishment of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora in 2001. David Driskell received the IDSVA Prize in 2009.
Étienne Balibar is France’s leading Marxist philosopher and author of major texts, including We, the People of Europe? and Politics and the Other Scene. With American philosopher John Rajchman, he is co-author of French Philosophy Since 1945.
W.E.B. DuBois Institute for the Study of African and African American Research at Harvard University. Current projects include Ornamental Blackness: The Black Body in European Decorative Arts, a study of blacks in European decorative arts.
Peggy Phelan is the The Ann O’Day Maples Professor in the Arts at Stanford University, where she teaches Drama and English. Selected publications include: Unmarked: the Politics of Performance, Mourning Sex: Performing Public Memories, and the Survey essay for Art and Feminism.
Sylvère Lotringer is Professor Emeritus of French literature and philosophy at Columbia University and Professor of Foreign Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Known for his work as general editor of Semiotext(e) and Foreign Agents, Professor Lotringer is a literary critic and cultural theorist.
Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona. Author, with Gianni Vattimo, of Hermeneutic Communism: From Heidegger to Marx. Only Art Can Save Us: Aesthetics and The End of Emergencies is forthcoming in 2015.
Lynette Hunter is Professor of Performance and Performance History at UC Davis and Director of Graduate Studies in Performance Studies at UC Davis. In 2007 & 2008 she conducted the First Year Intensive Orientation in Key Terms in Philosophy and Theory, at Spannocchia, Italy.
Born in Sarajevo, visual artist and architectural historian Azra Aksamija serves on the faculty at the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology. She writes on the cultural and historical significance of mosque architecture.
Tom Huhn Chair, Visual and Critical Studies, School of Visual Arts. Books include Imitation and Society: The Persistence of Mimesis in the Aesthetics of Burke, Hogarth, and Kant; The Cambridge Companion to Adorno; and The Wake of Art: Criticism, Philosophy, and the Ends of Taste.
Sharon Hecker is an independent art historian and curator. Based in Milan, Professor Hecker is currently writing a book on the philosophy and psychology of materiality in art, which will include issues around the restoration of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”
Charles Altieri is former Director of the Campus Arts Collaborative, UC Berkeley, and is Professor of Literature, UC Berkeley. Professor Altieri served as IDSVA’s chief curricular advisor from 2006–2008.
James Elkins is E. C. Chadborne Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Recognized as one of the world’s preeminent art historians, Professor Elkins has conducted extensive research on the question of PhDs for visual artists and recently edited a collection of essays entitled Artists with PhDs.
Bill Brown, Co-editor, Critical Inquiry and Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago. Books include A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature (Chicago, 2003) and The Material Unconscious: American Amusement, Stephan Crane, and the Economics of Play.
Symposia, Special Lectures & Studio Visits
Internationally recognized scholars, curators, and artists offer SYMPOSIA & SPECIAL LECTURES on topics that are not necessarily tied to particular course curricula and serve to broaden the scope of academic discussion.
Associate Lecturer in Modern Liberal Arts at Winchester University, Elina Staikou is the author of Deconstruction at Home: Metaphors of Travel and Writing and of articles on contemporary philosophy, literature and biomedicine. She participated in the IDSVA Athens symposium with a talk on migration and hospitality.
Philosopher, documentary filmmaker and video artist, Giovanni Tusa has had his works screened in Cuba, London documentary film festival, Biennale della Danza of Venice, Coimbra and Paris, and he is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy and Critical Theory in institutions in Europe and the US. His latest work, De la Fin, co-authored with Alain Badiou, has been published in France in June 2017. In the IDSVA Athens symposium he discussed the political-philosophical implications of borders and mapping.
Contemporary African-American artist, photographer, curator, photographic historian, author of many books, including Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty, Willis is the Chair of Department of Photography and Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, and a Recipient of Guggenheim, Fletcher and MacArthur Fellowships. Deborah Willis received an IDSVA PhD honorary degree in 2016.
A photo conceptual artist who has exhibited throughout the U.S. and abroad. His work is in numerous public collections including The Museum of Modern Art New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The High Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Hank Willis Thomas received an IDSVA Honorary PhD Degree in 2017.
Writer for Art in America, Art Forum, and the New York Times, and author of the acclaimed Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art, major American critic Nancy Princenthal has taught as Princeton, Yale, and Bard College.
A leading American educator and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Bro Adams wrote his dissertation on Merleau-Ponty at UC Santa Cruz. After teaching posts at Chapel Hill and Stanford he served as president of Bucknell University and at Colby College. He is currently writing a book-length study of Cezanne and Merleau-Ponty.
Leading Maine painter, print maker, and installation artist Alison Hildreth shows at the June Fitzpatrick Gallery in Portland, Maine. Her works are collected in the the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, Wellesley College, Smith College, and the Boston Public Library.
Ted Coons is Professor of Psychology, Cognition & Perception at the Center for Neural Science NYU. He is a pioneer in the field of neuroscience and a major contributor to early studies in neuroaesthetics.
World-renowned artist, architect and filmmaker. His work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum, New York, the MCA in Chicago, MOCA and LACMA in Los Angeles, the Tate in London, the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris and dozens of other institutions and private collections worldwide. Alfredo Jaar received an IDSVA Honorary PhD Degree in 2015.
An American artist best known for his seminal theater pieces of the early 1960s combining visual and sound images, actors, film, slides, and evocative props in environments of his own making. He became an active figure in the New York art world where he created and staged many of the first “Happenings,” along with artists Allan Kaprow, Lucas Samaras, Red Grooms, Jim Dine, and Claes Oldenburg.
Julie Martin has been an active figure in the New York art community since the 1960s. After graduations from Radcliffe and gaining a Masters in Russian Studies from Columbia University she joined the staff of E.A.T., founded by Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Whitman, Billy Klüver and fellow Bell Labs engineer Fred Waldhauer, as editor of the newsletter and continued to work closely with Klüver on the great variety of projects that E.A.T. carried out from 1966 to the present.
Susan Stewart is Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities and director of the Society of Fellows, Princeton University. A leading American poet and philosopher, her recent books include The Poet’s Freedom and The Open Studio.
Eric Kandel won the Nobel Prize in physiology in 2003. He is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. His most recent book is The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain.
Mildred Glimcher has long been associated with Pace Galleries, New York. An art historian, her most recent publication is Happenings: New York 1958-1963.
Probably best known for his contribution to the development of New Historicism, Stephen Greenblatt is John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University. A world leading Renaissance scholar, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his recently published, The Swerve: How the World Become Modern.
Hal Foster is Townsend Martin Professor of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University. Books include Compulsive Beauty; Prosthetic Gods; and The Art-Architecture Complex.
Vadim Zakharov is a Russian artist, editor, archivist of Moscow Conceptual art scene, and collector, living and working in Berlin and Moscow. Since 1992 he has been the publisher of Pastor magazine and founder of Pastor Zond Edition, and editor of the book of Moscow Conceptual School. He represented Russia at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
Curator and critic Holly Block is Executive Director of The Bronx Museum of the Arts. Among her many innovations and achievements at the Bronx Museum, she guided its management of smARTpower, an international fellowship program for U.S. artists supported by the U.S. Department of State. She is the author of Art Cuba: The New Generation, and the co-commissioner of the United States Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennial, featuring artist Sarah Sze. Holly Block received an IDSVA Honorary PhD Degree in 2014.
James Carpenter, New York artist and architect whose projects include the glass exterior of the recently completed Tower Number Seven, World Trade Center.
Wai Chee Dimock, William Lampson Professor of English and American Studies, Yale University, and author of the forthcoming Kin and Kind: Genres and Media as a World Wide Web.
Nancy Spector is Director of Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim Museum, She curated the Felix Gonzalez-Torres exhibition at the American Pavilion, 2007 Venice Biennale.
Robert E. Steele is the former Executive Director of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, University of Maryland, College Park.
Simon Critchley is a British philosopher now teaching at the New School in New York. Some of his recent publications include: How to Stop Living and Start Worrying, The Faith of the Faithless, and Nicely Impossible Objects.
Michael Findlay’s book on The Value of Art explains to the initiated and the un-initiated why and how paintings come by their prices. Findlay is a New York art dealer whose career spans the range of the art market from Madison Avenue to Soho in the late 60s and early 70s to Christie’s at the height of the Japanese art boom to the depths of 1990s art recession and, finally, more than a decade at Acquavella Galleries as the super dealers have come to dominate the top end of the market and host museum quality shows to rival their academic cousins.
Aura Rosenberg is an artist based in Berlin. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including MJ Briggs/Anna Meliksetian Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, Gallery 3A, New York, and Gallery Sassa Trulzsch, Berlin.
Dissertation Directors are appointed according to fields of expertise and selected from the Core Faculty, Visiting Faculty, and from faculty worldwide. The chair of the Dissertation Committee oversees selection of dissertation directors and committee members.
Lynette Hunter is Professor of the History of Rhetoric and Performance, and Chair of the department of Theatre & Dance at UC Davis. She has written and edited over 20 books and many essays in a range of disciplines from the history of rhetoric and literature, to philosophy and feminist theory, to post/neo-colonial studies (especially in Canada), to the history of science and computing, to women’s history and gender studies (from the early modern period), to performance studies. She has scripted, devised, produced and toured, several theory performance installations in Europe and North America and explores alternative ways of disseminating modes of knowing within aesthetics and scholarship.
Chris Johnson is currently an independent scholar and more recently an Assistant Professor of Culture and Media at Eugene Lang College in New York City. He received a PhD in American Studies received from New York University, attended the graduate program in History of American Civilization at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and received a B.A. in Music, Cultural Anthropology and Urban Studies from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. His ongoing projects include ‘Social History and Bebop, Charlie Parker and the Blues Cadence’ an essay on jazz theory and performance. Dr. Johnson has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar teaching and doing research at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universitat in Münster, Germany and a Research Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University.
Ellen Grabiner is an Associate Professor and Chair in the Communications Department at Simmons College. Her scholarly work explores an interstitial space: between art and philosophy, between high and low culture, between seeing and saying, between doing and undergoing. Publications include, "The Heideggerian Disruptions of Zippy the Pinhead," (Philosophy Now, 2011) and a recently completed book, I See You: The Shifting Paradigms of James Cameron's Avatar (2012).
Michael Stone-Richards is a scholar-teacher of Critical Theory, comparative literature and the history and theory of modern and contemporary art practice. He has published widely in French and English on the avant-garde in poetry, critical theory and art. Since his arrival in Detroit he has become deeply involved in the various parts of its arts and performance community and is currently a member of the board of the Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art at the DIA. His book of critical theory and literary criticism Logics of Separation: Exile and Transcendence in Aesthetic Modernity recently appeared with Peter Lang. He is currently working on a book/exhibition catalogue called The Care of the City: Detroit and the Art of Re-invention, and completing a book length study on The Wreck of Art: Studies in the Thought of Guy Debord which received a Graham Foundation grant. Stone-Richards is currently Professor in the Department of Liberal Arts at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) and a board member of the newly founded experimental letterpress / print-media shop-front Signal-Return in Eastern Market, Detroit.
Associate Professor Philip Armstrong has published widely in the area of contemporary visual arts and culture, as well as essays on contemporary political theory. Recent publications include Reticulations: Jean-Luc Nancy and the Networks of the Political (U of Minnesota P, 2009), Jean-Luc Nancy, Politique et au-delà: Entretien with Jason Smith (Galilée, 2011), and (with Laura Lisbon and Stephen Melville) As Painting: Division and Displacement (MIT Press and Wexner Center, 2001). He is core faculty at Ohio State University, Department of Comparative Studies.
Donald R. Wehrs is the Hargis Professor of English Literature at Auburn University. He received his PhD from the University of Virginia. Dr. Wehrs specializes in novel genre and history, eighteenth-century studies, postcolonial studies, and comparative literature and has published articles in MLN, SEL and ELH. He is currently working on the relationship between ethics, cognitive science, and literary history. Recent publications include, Pre-Colonial Africa in Colonial African Narratives: From Ethiopia Unbound to Things Fall Apart , 1911-1958 (Ashgate, 2008), Levinas and Ninetheenth-Century Literature, co-edited with David P. Haney (University of Delaware Press, 2009), and “Postcolonial Sterne.” The Cambridge Companion to Sterne. Ed. Thomas Keymer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
Sigrid Hackenberg is a visual artist and theorist. She grew up in Spain, Germany, Japan and Canada. She received a B.A. from San Francisco State University and an M.A. from New York University. Her work has been featured internationally, including Museo Laboratorio Di Arte Contemporanea, Universita degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Rome; Museum of Image and Sound, Sao Paolo; Stedelijk Musueum, Amsterdam; Aperto '93, XLV Venice Biennale. She teaches video art at New York University. Hackenberg lives in New York. She received a PhD in Media and Communication from the European Graduate School, Saas-Fe, Wallis.
Shelton Waldrep is a Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine where he teaches classes on Victorian literature, popular culture, film, and critical theory. He is the author of The Dissolution of Place: Architecture, Identity, and the Body (Ashgate) and The Aesthetics of Self-Invention: Oscar Wilde to David Bowie (University of Minnesota Press); the co- author of Inside the Mouse: Work and Play at Disney World (Duke University Press); and the editor of The Seventies: The Age of Glitter in Popular Culture (Routledge) and Inauthentic Pleasures: Victorian Fakery and the Limitations of Form (SLI). His latest book is entitled Future Nostalgia: Performing David Bowie (Bloomsbury).
Shannon Rose Riley is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar. She is Associate Professor, Chair of the Department of Humanities, and Coordinator of the Creative Arts Program at San José State University, where she teaches courses in Creative Arts and American Studies. She has a PhD in Performance Studies and Critical Theory from the University of California, Davis, an MFA in Studio Art (Performance, Video, Installation) from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and a BFA in Sculpture and Art History from Maine College of Art. She is co-editor, with Lynette Hunter, of Mapping Landscapes for Performance as Research (Palgrave, 2009) and the author of Performing Race and Erasure: Cuba, Haiti, and US Culture, 1898-1940 (Palgrave, forthcoming 2016).