Jessica Maxwell

Ph.D., 2013
Modern and Contemporary


Jessica Maxwell specializes in modern and contemporary art in a transnational context with particular interests in 20th-century sculpture, African American art, race in representation, and theories of selfhood.

Projects include an article on American artist Glenn Ligon’s Coloring series (2000), a suite of appropriated drawings and paintings based on 1970s Afrocentric coloring books, that explores the transvaluation of color beyond its capacity for racial description. Additionally, an article on painter Jean-Michel Basquiat's notion of historical materialism is underway.

Her research has been supported by numerous fellowships, including the George S. Heyer Graduate Fellowship from Princeton University and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at University of California, Berkeley. Maxwell has an abundance of museum work experience, including internships in both the American and Later Western Art departments at the Princeton University Art Museum and in the Department of Photographs of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Additionally, she has worked within the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where she conducted educational programming for retrospectives of photographer and filmmaker Lorna Simpson and painter Basquiat. Maxwell received her B.A. in art history and the visual arts from Occidental College.

Selected Publications

“William Pope.L: Landscape + Object + Animal (review),” in Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art 28, no. 1 (2011).

“Austin Hansen,” in Great Lives from History: African Americans (Salem Press, 2011).

Selected Talks and Papers

“Skin as Solid: The ‘Self’ in Martin Puryear’s Sculpture,” College Art Association Annual Conference, New York, February 2015.

 “An Afternoon with Basquiat,” panel discussion, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, February 2014.

“Heterogeneous Objects: The Sculpture of Martin Puryear,” Townsend Center for the Humanities, University of California, Berkeley, February 2014.