Meet the Chair

CCA’s Visual Studies Program encourages students to pursue a critical approach to historical and contemporary culture.

Our majors and minors are intrepid thinkers and confident critics of visual culture. Our students ask challenging questions of themselves and their world.

  • How can we navigate contemporary experiences by decoding the images that surround us?
  • What are the mechanisms of inclusion/exclusion that make certain forms dominant at particular moments in history?
  • How are the ideals and struggles of a culture read through the objects, structures, and technologies it produces?

These are the kinds of questions that motivate historians, critics, writers, and curators as well as makers of objects and images.

They are also the kinds of questions I ask in my own writing about art’s making and reception.

About Elizabeth Mangini

I am drawn to the way objects can tell stories. Persisting over decades or centuries, artworks contain residues of the moments in which they were made, used, bought and sold.

These traces might transport us to different worlds, introduce us to diverse frames of mind, or challenge us to consider alternative systems of representation.

I am especially interested in the:

  • intersections of art and labor after WWII
  • political and economic role of art in the 20th and 21st centuries
  • relationship between contemporary theories of art and philosophies of nonvisual perception.

Read Elizabeth Mangini's faculty bio »

Visual Studies: More than a Perception

At CCA, Visual Studies students read, look, and think deeply about cultures, past and present. They analyze and contextualize what they see and what they make within broader social and historical phenomena.

Through field trips, research, and lively seminar discussions, our students study a diverse range of visual material -- from ancient architecture to video games, from sculptures to graphic design, from social media posts to Hollywood films.

Students might research the iconography of an oil painting or write a paper that decodes an advertising campaign. We are just as likely to visit a supermarket, a graffitied alleyway, or suburban development as they are to go to a museum, gallery, or monument.