History of Art and Architecture

Fall 2014-Spring 2015 Alumni News

Dora Apel (PhD '95) received her PhD in 1995 under the direction of Joan Weinstein (now Deputy Director of the Getty Foundation). Her dissertation examined pacifist and patriotic visual imagery of World War I in Weimar Germany. Since then, she has published three books and one co-authored book as well as several dozen journal articles, chapters in edited anthologies, catalog essays, book reviews and exhibition reviews. Her books include Memory Effects: The Holocaust and the Art of Secondary Witnessing; Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob; War Culture and the Contest of Images; and Lynching Photographs, co-authored with Shawn Michelle Smith. Her work examines traumatic imagery and associated cultural practices of war and violence; race and ethnicity; the merging of documentary, photojournalistic and artistic practices; the positioning of contemporary documentary within a globalized world; gender and sexuality; and museum practices.

Her current book, Beautiful Terrible Ruins: Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline, is forthcoming from Rutgers University Press in 2015. Using Detroit as the pre-eminent example of deindustrialization and urban decline, Beautiful Terrible Ruins critically examines the burgeoning imagery of ruination across visual formats, including photography, advertising, creative interventions and public projects, television, documentary city films, and zombie and disaster films. Her book analyzes the causes of city decline and considers the cultural and political uses of ruin imagery.

Apel currently serves as Professor and W. Hawkins Ferry Endowed Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art History at Wayne State University in Detroit, where she has taught art history and visual culture since 1999. Among other awards and honors, in the past year she was the recipient of the Marilyn Williamson Distinguished Faculty Fellowship and in 2002 received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the History of Art and Architecture Department at the University of Pittsburgh.


Ivy (Schroeder) Cooper (PhD '97) completed her Ph.D. dissertation, “Minimalism for the Masses: Public Sculpture under the Federal Art-in-Architecture Program, 1972-1989” under Prof. Kirk Savage in 1997. She has made scholarly presentations related to the dissertation topic at conferences for the Organization of American Historians, the National Council on Public History, the American Studies Association, and the National Women’s Studies Association, and her essay, “Official Art, Official Publics,” was published in Poetics of Memory: Vision, Voice, and Performance (2002).  Cooper’s interest in Minimalism, Phenomenology, and the public has led to researching the art of Olafur Eliasson, and in 2010 she delivered “The Public Nature of Olafur Eliasson” at the University of Minnesota Mankato, as part of the Leif Erikson Lecture Series on Scandinavian Culture.

Cooper began teaching art history at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 1996, serving two terms as Chair of the Department of Art and Design and becoming a full professor in 2007. She currently heads the art history program and teaches a range of modern courses, including history of photography, American art, modern architecture and design, and contemporary public art. She contributed the essay “History Made Visible: Teaching Lincoln with Picturing America” to the anthology Teaching Lincoln: What Every K-12 Student Needs to Know about Nationalism, Emancipation, Power and Race (2014). Her teaching and research interests were shaped directly by the outstanding faculty she worked with at Pitt, including Kirk Savage, Barbara McCloskey, Frank Toker, and visiting professor Linda Graham.

While a graduate student at Pitt, Cooper worked as Docent Program Specialist at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and her relationship with museums has continued in St. Louis. Cooper frequently lectures to docents and delivers invited public gallery talks at the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts on topics that have included Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Pop Art, Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke. She also had the pleasure of chairing a panel on contemporary art at the 2014 conference of the Midwest Art History Society, which was held at the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Much of Cooper’s current activity focuses on critical writing. She began writing art criticism for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette during graduate school. Upon relocating to St. Louis, Cooper became the chief art critic for The Riverfront Times, and she writes regular reviews and features for publications including Art in America, ArtForum, Art News, and Sculpture Magazine. Recent publications include reviews and catalog essays on artists including Lari Pittman, Gedi Sibony, Johannes Wohnseifer, Belasz Kicsiny, Mel Watkin, and Carmon Colangelo.


Miki Hirayama (PhD '01) wrote her dissertation “The Restoration of Realism: Kojima Kikuo (1887-1950) and the Growth of Modern Japanese Art Criticism” under the guidance of Dr. J. Thomas Rimer, who was the Chair of the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department and a joint faculty member of HA&A. While at Pitt, she also worked as a TA for Dr. Kathy Linduff and Dr. Barbara McCloskey, which was an invaluable professional experience.

She graduated in the spring of 2002 and got a job in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati, where she has been tenured since 2008. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses on East Asian art, mostly Japanese and Chinese. She has also served as the Director of Graduate Studies for many years, and now manages the Museum Studies Certificate Program. She’s also been actively involved in the expansion of Asian Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.

During her first year at UC, she resided in the UK on the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Postdoctoral Fellowship and was affiliated with the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and the Sainsbury Institute at the University of East Anglia. This fellowship resulted in a one-day conference on early Japanese photography and a conference proceedings, which was published as Reflecting Truth: Japanese Photography in the Nineteenth Century from Hotei Publishing in 2005. Hirayama's service to the field has included serving as an anonymous reviewer for Art Bulletin, Ars Orientalis, and Tran-Asia Photography Review.

Her research area is Japanese art criticism of the early twentieth century. In particular, she has been investigating the interplay of modernity, the quest for Japanese national identity, and transformations in the concepts of vision, perception, and representation as shown in prewar western-style painting (yōga). With these research interests, she has published articles and book chapters such as “‘Fictionalized Truth’: Realism as the Vehicle for War Painting” in Art and War in Japan and Its Empire, 1931-1960 (Brill, 2012), "Notes on Japanese Art Criticism" in Since Meiji: Perspectives on the Japanese Visual Arts (University of Hawai’I Press, 2011),  "The Emperor's New Clothes: Japanese Visuality and Imperial Portrait Photography" in History of Photography (2009), and “From Art without Borders to Art for the Nation: Japanist (Nihonshugi) Painting by Dokuritsu Bijutsu Kyōkai during the 1930s”in Monumenta Nipponica (2010). Her most recent publication is a forthcoming book chapter, “Inner Beauty: Kishida Ryūsei (1891-1929)’s Theory of Realism,” in Japanese Aesthetics, which will be published by Lexington Press in late 2014.

She has also translated academic publications both from English to Japanese and from Japanese to English. Her translation works have been published in Postwar to Postmodern: Art in Japan 1945-1989: Primary Documents (Museum of Modern Art, 2013), Not a Song Like Any Other: Anthology of Mori Ogai (University of Hawai’i Press, 2004), and Kazari: Decoration and Display in Japan (British Museum Press, 2002), among others.


Rebekah Perry (PhD '11) is now Visiting Assistant Professor of Medieval Art and Architecture at the University of Oregon.