Louise Siddons, PhD

Sabbatical 2021-2022

Stanford University
Professor in Art History
Office:(405) 744-6016
Fax:(405) 744-5767 
Email: louise.siddons@okstate.edu 
View CV

Louise Siddons is an art historian specializing in American art and the visual culture of modernity. She teaches courses in American, Native American, Modern and Contemporary art history at OSU. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from Stanford University in 2005, and taught at San Francisco State University and Michigan State University before joining the OSU faculty in 2009.

Siddons has maintained an active critical and curatorial practice throughout her career. Prior to coming to Oklahoma State, she was adjunct curator at Michigan State University and the Kresge Art Museum for two years. From 2002-2007, she was a graduate fellow and assistant curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Siddons continues to have a museological role at OSU, where she was the founding curator and co-director during development of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art from 2010-2014. The OSU Museum of Art opened in January of 2014, at which point Siddons returned to her full-time faculty responsibilities, although she continues to work with the museum as a guest curator and faculty member in museum studies.

Siddons' research interests focus on the history of printmaking and photography, particularly in relation to representations of race, racialization, gender and sexuality. Her current research project, ‘Good pictures are a strong weapon’: Laura Gilpin, Queerness, and Navajo Sovereignty, surveys photographer Laura Gilpin’s career through the lens of her 1968 book, The Enduring Navaho, illuminating the intersectional politics of twentieth-century photography, indigeneity, and queerness. In her book, Gilpin (1891-1979) addressed Navajo aesthetics, society, and individuals in explicitly politicized terms. Without erasing the realities of her settler-colonial privilege, Siddons takes seriously the propositions Gilpin made for both queer and Native self-determination and sovereignty through the book’s visual program, refuting the inevitability of the anthropological gaze that pervades Indigenous photographic history. Early results of this research have been published in the European Journal of American Culture, Authenticity in North America (Jane Lovell and Sam Hitchmough, eds., Routledge, 2019), and by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

Broadly interested in the history of modernism in social and geographical margins, Siddons’ previous book, Centering Modernism: J. Jay McVicker and Postwar American Art (University of Oklahoma Press, 2018), situates Oklahoma modernist J. Jay McVicker within the critical and institutional processes of coastalization, challenging the primacy of New York School artists in the scholarship on postwar American art. Her forthcoming article in American Art, “Red Power in the Black Panther: Illustrating Intersectional Politics at Wounded Knee,” likewise addresses postwar politics of identity and place, considering the mutual self-fashioning of American Indian Movement and Black Panther activists and politicians in terms of the history intersectional visual politics and social justice in the United States. 

Although Siddons’ research and teaching are centered in the early twentieth century, her theoretical interests in phenomenology, gender and sexuality, medium-specificity and memory have led her to consider the broader genealogies of printmaking and photography. For example, she has written several articles on the ideological connections between mezzotint and power in eighteenth-century Britain, and has curated and written about contemporary artists who work in historic media (photography and craft) in the context of a broader American craze for re-enacting, homesteading, and crafting. Siddons’ concurrent research and practice in dance history and performance contributes to her interest in these theoretical and historical phenomena.

Siddons has been the recipient of research and writing support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the US-UK Fulbright Commission, the Eccles Centre at the British Library, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Newberry Library, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, and the Oklahoma Humanities Council, among others.

Current Project:
‘Good pictures are a strong weapon’: Laura Gilpin, Queerness, and Navajo Sovereignty (working title, manuscript under contract with the University of Minnesota Press)

Selected Publications:

“Seeing the Four Sacred Mountains: Mapping, Landscape, and Navajo Sovereignty,” European Journal of American Culture, 39, no. 1, The Cartographic Imagination: Mapping in American Art and Literature Since 1945 (March 2020): 63-81.


“‘We Sure Didn’t Know’: Laura Gilpin, Mary Ann Nakai, and Cold War Politics on the Navajo Nation,” in Jane Lovell and Sam Hitchmough, eds., Authenticity in North America  (London: Routledge, 2019):75-95.

Centering Modernism: J. Jay McVicker and Postwar American Art. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2018.

With Jennifer Borland, “From Hoarders to the Hoard: Giving Disciplinary Legitimacy to Undisciplined Collecting,” postmedieval 7.3 (2016): 407-420.

“Sensibility and Science: Motherhood and the Gendering of Knowledge in Two Mezzotints after Joseph Wright of Derby,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies 36.2 (Fall 2015): 124-151.

"The Language of Line: Negotiating German-American Identity in John W. Winkler’s San Francisco Chinatown Etchings” Panorama (Winter 2015)

Sharing a Journey: Building the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art Collection [exhibition catalogue] (Stillwater: Oklahoma State University, 2014): 160pp.

"Finding Their Place: The Regional Landscapes of Jacques Hans Gallrein and Doel Reed,” Great Plains Quarterly 34.1 (Winter 2014): 63-90.

"'An English Art’: Nationalist Rhetoric and Civic Virtue in Valentine Green’s Mezzotint Portrait of John Boydell (1772)” British Art Journal XIV.1 (Fall 2013): 71-80.

“African Past or American Present? The Visual Eloquence of James VanDerZee’s Identical Twins” African American Review 46.2-3 (Summer/Fall 2013): 439-459.

Recent Exhibitions:

“Centering Modernism: J. Jay McVicker and Postwar American Art”
Curator. September 24, 2018 – January 19, 2019, Oklahoma State University Museum of Art
(Stillwater, OK).

“24 Works on Paper”
Juror. August 13 – September 23, 2018, Guymon Public Library, Guymon, OK; travels to nine
additional in-state venues, closing in Oklahoma City, OK December 2, 2019 – January 17, 2020.

“Syncretic: The Tulsa Artist Fellowship”
Curator. December 2, 2016 ¬– January 22, 2017, 108 Contemporary (Tulsa, OK).

“Robert Turney: The Real History of the American Civil War”
Curator. Fall 2015, Moon Gallery, Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia. Also Fall 2016 at the
Oklahoma State University Gardiner Gallery.