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Bridget R. Cooks is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is also core faculty in the Ph.D. Programs in Visual Studies and Culture and Theory, and the Master’s Program in Critical and Curatorial Studies.  


Cooks' research focuses on African American artists, Black visual culture, museum criticism, and feminist theory.  She earned her doctorate in the Visual and Cultural Studies Program at the University of Rochester. She has received a number of awards, grants and fellowships for her work including the prestigious James A. Porter & David C. Driskell Book Award in African American Art History, and the Henry Luce Dissertation Fellowship in American Art.


Cooks’ first career was as a museum professional. In this capacity she worked at the Oakland Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has also curated several exhibitions including, The Art of Richard Mayhew at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco (2009-2010); Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California (2018) at the Pasadena Museum of California Art; and Ernie Barnes: A Retrospective (2019) at the California African American Museum (CAAM).


She is author of the book Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum (University of Massachusetts Press, 2011). Some of her other publications can be found in Afterall, Afterimage, American Studies, Aperture, Pedagogy, and American Quarterly. She is currently working on a few book projects: Norman Rockwell: The Civil Rights Paintings; Covers: Popular Art of the Civil Rights Movement & the Limits of Liberalism (contracted with University of Massachusetts Press); and Mannequins in Museums: Power and Resistance on Display. Co-Editor with Jennifer Wagelie (Routledge Press).

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