Professor, African & African Diaspora Studies
Cherise Smith is Chair of African & African Diaspora Studies Department and Professor of African & African Diaspora Studies and Art History. She specializes in American art after 1945, especially as it intersects with the politics of identity, race, and gender. Smith joined the University of Texas at Austin in 2005, after finishing the PhD. at Stanford University.
Her research centers on African American art, the history of photography, performance, and contemporary art. Her book Michael Ray Charles: Studies in Blackness (University of Texas Press, 2020) places the artist’s work in the context of the 1990s, the rise in collecting of Black “memorabilia,” and Pop art among other historical trends. Her book, Enacting Others: Politics of Identity in Eleanor Antin, Nikki S. Lee, Adrian Piper, and Anna Deavere Smith (Duke University Press, 2011), examines how identity is negotiated in performance art in which women artists take-on the characteristics and manners of a racial, ethnic, and gender “other.” She has published essays in Art Journal, American Art, and exposure among other venues.
Currently, she is Executive Director of the Art Galleries at Black Studies where she spearheads the Black Studies’ Art and Archive Initiative which seeks to expand UT’s holdings of art and material collections relating to people of African descent and increase its exhibition spaces. Under its auspices, she created two exhibition spaces—the Idea Lab and the Christian-Green Gallery—, and she has shepherded in donations of art by Norman Lewis, Romare Bearden, and Charles White, among others.
Her research has been supported by the Getty Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Ford Foundation Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Research Fellowship at W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African American Research at Harvard University. She has worked in the curatorial departments of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Saint Louis Art Museum among other institutions.