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Photo of Swindell, Alisa

Alisa Swindell

PhD Candidate


Alisa Swindell is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History at UIC with a concentration in Gender and Women Studies. Her primary research interests are the history of photography and other modes of contemporary art with a focus on race and sexuality, her secondary interests are food and domesticity in visual culture. Her dissertation, “Desire in the Time of AIDS: Art Photography and Images of Desire in the Height of the AIDS Crisis 1985-1995” considers how notions of desire were created and maintained through photography by artists associated with communities most affected by the crisis.

She is currently a Curatorial Research Assistant at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum at Northwestern University. She is an independent curator, was a Romare Bearden Minority Graduate Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum and has been a Dangler intern and a curatorial researcher in the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Photography, and worked in public programs and as a Curatorial Assistant at Gallery 400. She writes for Newcity, has been published in Gastronomica, and written for exhibition catalogs. She has presented at numerous conferences and participated on panels as an academic and an activist. Alisa has been the instructor of record for survey courses on Western, Modern, and Contemporary Art, and the original courses “Constructions of Race in Contemporary Photography,” “Sexy, Sexist, Sexless: Women Artists Use of Sexualized Imagery After 1960,” and “African American, Photography, and Social Change.” Since being accepted into the UIC Ph.D. program she has been the recipient of the Abraham Lincoln Fellowship, a department research grant, the American Alliance of Museums Annual Conference Fellowship, the Provost Graduate Summer Internship Award, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Graduate Scholarship. She previously had a career as an arts administrator working in the visual arts, film, dance, publishing, and theater. She received her A.B. from Bryn Mawr College in the History of Art, an M.A. in Arts Administration from the University of New Orleans and an M.A. in Modern Art History, Theory and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


A.B., Bryn Mawr College - History of Art
M.A., University of New Orleans - Arts Administration
M.A., School of the Art institute of Chicago - Modern Art History, Theory and Criticism
PhD. student, University of Illinois at Chicago - Art History, Gender and Women's Studies concentration