Congratulations to our newest alumna Dr. Amy Bowman-McElhone, who defended her dissertation “‘Freakish’ Student: Mike Kelley, Artistic Pedagogy, and Institutional Critique” this summer. Her faculty advisor Dr. Adam Jolles writes:
Amy’s dissertation makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Mike Kelley’s work, his place in the west coast American art scene, and his role in the emerging practice of institutional critique, which provided artists with a platform through which to challenge the very institutions to which they were contributing. While much existing scholarship is devoted to how artists since the 1960s have interrogated museums and their supporting infrastructure, one original aspect of Amy’s scholarship is the extent to which it draws attention to how Kelley’s approach to pedagogy profoundly informed his artistic practice. In the process, she’s helped redefine our sense of the scope of institutional critique, demonstrating how as an artistic practice it also targeted fine arts programs and curricula.
Dr. Bowman-McElhone currently serves as the Art Program Director, University Art Gallery Director, and is an Assistant Professor in Art History at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA where she curates transdisciplinary, justice-oriented exhibitions and aims to cultivate the gallery as a space for experimentation and dialogue. Previously she served as the Assistant Vice President of the University of West Florida Historic Trust Museums, and the Director and Chief Curator of the UWF Pensacola Museum of Art where she curated a number of exhibitions including Stone’s Throw: On Borders, Boundaries and the Beyond featuring the work of contemporary artists Candice Breitz and Carlos Rolon.
Current curatorial projects Bowman-McElhone is working on include the group shows the Anthropology of Motherhood: The Culture of Care (2020) and I Forgot to Laugh: Humor and Contemporary Art. She also co-founded in 2020 the inaugural Teaching Artist Residency at Carlow University in collaboration with the K-8 Campus Laboratory School. Bowman-McElhone recently received a CIC Humanities Research for the Public Good grant to support the archival and curatorial project “The Power of Voice and the Agency of Citizenship: The International Poetry Forum Collection and Social Change” and is currently on the grant team for a co-institutional Andrew K. Mellon Foundation grant with the University of Pittsburgh and Carlow University focused on the intersections of the Arts, Humanities and community engagement.
Her publications include the 2020 book chapter “Memory-Place and the Unintentional Monument: Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena (1961-2012) and Its Legacy” in the Routledge edited volume Contested Commemoration in U.S. History. Her research has also been published in the peer-reviewed journals Arts and the Journal of Curatorial Studies. Bowman-McElhone has recently co-chaired the CAA 2020 panel “Role Call: Gender Roles, Performative Imaginaries, and Decolonial Feminist Critiques,” and will be presenting the paper “The Sunday Curator: Mike Kelley’s “Uncanny” Exhibition (1993) And the Political Agency of Art” for SECAC 2020. Her upcoming publications includes a co-authored book chapter “’The Battle is Joined’: Contemporary Art and Contested Memorial Ecologies” in the edited volume Heritage Wars and the Road to Reconciliation: Approaching the Problem with Confederate Memory from Many Directions to be published by the University of Florida Press in 2020.