Congratulations to recent alumna Dr. Jennifer Baez, who has accepted a tenure-track position in the School of Art + Art History + Design at the University of Washington in Seattle. Jennifer, who earned her PhD in art history this spring, will join the UW faculty in September 2022 as Assistant Professor in Latin American art history.
Dr. Baez specializes in the visual and material culture of colonial Latin America and the African diaspora, with a focus on the Caribbean in the eighteenth century. Her research is on miracle-working icons and traditions, and she is especially interested in how origin stories, historical memory, and collective subjectivities were formed in extractive, Black Atlantic geographies. She completed her dissertation, “Painting the Miracles of Altagracia: Art, Piety, and Memory in Hispaniola (1751-1795),” under the direction of Dr. Paul Niell, who writes,
Jennifer’s dissertation makes a substantial intervention in Colonial Latin American and Caribbean art history for its treatment of an underrepresented geography in the field, colonial Hispaniola (modern Haiti and Dominican Republic), the originality of the research, and the innovative nature of the argument. She focuses on the intersections of devotional space, piety, pilgrimage, colonial society, and Creole identity formation as registered in a group of eighteenth-century painted medallions that narrate the miracles of the Virgin of Altagracia. She considers such important issues as musealization, local reception, heritage processes, the transmission of knowledge in the Black Atlantic, and the interaction of the local and the global. Through her clear and elegant writing, her work should be accessible and engaging to an interdisciplinary community of scholars and graduate students addressing the subject of Marian devotions.
Dr. Baez has been hired by the University of Washington in tandem with Dr. Caitlyn Earley, who was trained in Precolumbian art history at the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on ancient Maya sculpture. These new hires join faculty in the Art + Art History + Design with strengths in American, Asian, and European art history. The Americanists specialize in the areas of modern architecture, Colonial to mid-20th century North American, Northwest Native American, and modern/contemporary American art. The UW department is building one of the nation’s largest Art of the Americas studies areas, to which Jennifer brings her training in our department’s Visual Cultures of the Americas area, carrying on our hemispheric and interdisciplinary perspectives.
Baez writes that she looks back on her time at FSU with great fondness:
I found life-long friends and co-conspirators here, as well as teachers who became friends and who modeled the type of educator, researcher, and professional that I aspire to become. Major thanks are due to my mentor, Dr. Paul Niell, whose work on colonial Cuba and Puerto Rico inspired me to pursue the track. I lucked out when matching with this gentle soul whose words of encouragement always came at the right time. His steady vision transformed the Visual Cultures of the Americas program, making it the strong referent on the Spanish Caribbean that it is today. Also, it was because of his course-build seminar that I had the opportunity to teach the History of African Art survey, which opened up a world of possibilities for me.