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Faculty

Natilee Harren, Assistant Professor

History of Contemporary Art
B.A. Rice University
M.A. UCLA
Ph.D. UCLA

Natilee Harren, an art historian and practicing critic, specializes in modern and contemporary art history and theory from 1900 to the present with a particular focus on experimental, interdisciplinary practices after 1960. Her current book project, Objects without Object: Fluxus and the Notational Neo-Avant-Garde, examines the international Fluxus collective amid transformations of the art object wrought by score-based practices of the 1960s and the epochal shift from modernism to postmodernism. Harren is also co-editor of an interdisciplinary electronic publication, forthcoming from the Getty Research Institute, that surveys and theorizes a range of 20th-century experimental notations from the fields of performance art, dance, literature, and music within a media-rich digital platform. Prof. Harren’s research engages the history and theory of Euro-American avant-gardes across the 20th and 21st centuries; intermedia art and theories of translation between artistic mediums and disciplines; the role of notations, scores, and diagrams in conceptual and performative art practices; institutional critique; social practice; and theories of appropriation. Harren’s essays and criticism have appeared or are forthcoming in Art Journal and Getty Research Journal, among other publications, and she has been a regular contributor to Artforum since 2009. Her research has been supported by a Getty Research Institute Predoctoral Fellowship, a Fulbright Graduate Fellowship at the Kunsthistorisches Institut of the Universität zu Köln, the UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies, and the University of California Office of the President. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the Society of Contemporary Art Historians and as caa.reviews field editor for exhibition reviews in the Southwest. Prof. Harren previously taught in the departments of art and art history at UCLA and Occidental College.

Rex Koontz, Professor and Director, School of Art

Pre-Columbian
BA, American College in Paris
MA, University of Texas, Austin
PhD, University of Texas, Austin

Rex Koontz’s research focuses on the art of Mexico’s Gulf Coast between c. 100-1000 CE. He is the author of Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents: The Public Sculpture of El Tajín (University of Texas Press, 2009), which looks at the style and meaning of public art in that ancient Gulf Coast capital. He is the author or editor of several other books, including three editions of the general history of Pre-Columbian Mexico, Mexico (with Michael Coe, 5th, 6th and 7th editions, Thames and Hudson). Dr. Koontz has published many journal articles and book chapters, including a critical review of the study of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art (in Ancient Mesoamerica), a look at the possibilities of virtual curating in the digital humanities (in Digital Humanities Quarterly, a survey of Classic Art in Mesoamerica (in the Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Art), an analysis of urban imagery and political offices in Classic Veracruz (in The Art of Urbanism, Dumbarton Oaks/Harvard University Press), among others. His current projects include a book-length survey of the portable sculpture of the Mexican Gulf Coast (the yoke/hacha/palma complex) and a history of Pre-Columbian art for the new art history survey volume commissioned by Thames and Hudson. Dr. Koontz’s research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard), among others.

H. Rodney Nevitt, Jr., Associate Professor

Northern Renaissance and Baroque
BA, Rice University
MA, Williams College
Ph.D., Harvard University

Dr. Nevitt’s field of research is seventeenth-century Dutch art. His publications include the book, Art and the Culture of Love in Seventeenth-Century Holland (in the series “Studies in Netherlandish Visual Culture,” W. Franits, ed.), Cambridge University Press 2003, and the articles, “Bridal Decorum and Dangerous Looks: Rembrandt’s Wedding Feast of Samson (1638),” in Rethinking Rembrandt, A. Chong and M. Zell, eds., Waanders 2002; “Vermeer on the Question of Love,” in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer, W. Franits, ed., Cambridge 2001; “Rembrandt’s Hidden Lovers,” Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 1997 (Natuur en landschap in de Nederlandse kunst 1500-1800), vol. 48, 1998; and “The Herdsman, the Rowboat, the Beetle and the Ant in Two Marriage Portraits by Gerrit Adriaensz. de Heer,” in Shop Talk: Studies in Honor of Seymour Slive, C. P. Schneider, W. W. Robinson, A. I. Davies, eds., Harvard University Art Museums, 1995. Dr. Nevitt is currently working on a book exploring changes in Dutch genre painting in the context of developing notions of privacy, love and literary narrative in seventeenth-century Holland. In 2004 he received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend to conduct research on this project in The Netherlands.

Dr. Nevitt has delivered papers at meetings of the College Art Association, Historians of Netherlandish Art, and the South-Central Renaissance Conference. He was an invited speaker in the symposium “Rembrandt and Beyond” at the Portland Art Museum in 2007, in the lecture series “Dutch Interiors” at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 2005, and in the conference “Rethinking Rembrandt” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 2000. In addition to the introductory survey in art history (Renaissance to Modern), Dr. Nevitt teaches courses in European Baroque Art, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art, Northern Renaissance Art, and seminars on Methods of Art History, Rembrandt, and Problems in Dutch Genre Painting.

Luisa Orto, Instructional Assistant Professor

BA, Boston University
MA, New York University
PhD, New York University

In addition to her degrees in Art History, Dr. Orto also completed a minor in Art Conservation at New York University, Institute of Fine Arts. Her PhD research addressed the exchange between the fine arts and design as demonstrated by central figures of postwar design in Milan, and was supported by the Fulbright Foundation. Following two years of teaching at New York University, Dr. Orto came to the University of Houston where she teaches in the Art History Department and the College of Architecture.

Dr. Orto teaches courses on the history of design including a Twentieth Century survey, as well as courses on Italian art and design, Scandinavian design and contemporary design.

Raphael Rubinstein, Professor

Critical Studies / Theory / Criticism

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of numerous books of poetry, prose, and criticism, including Critical Mess: Art Critics on the State of Their Practice, The Basement of the Cafe Rilke, and Polychrome Profusion: Selected Art Criticism 1990-2002. Since 1986, his art writing has appeared in Arts, Art News, Art in America, Flash Art, Artforum and other magazines, and has significantly influenced the critical landscape. From 1997–2007, he was Senior Editor for Art in America. Rubinstein has lectured internationally, curated exhibitions and received numerous awards including the French government’s Chevalier dans l’Order de Arts et des Lettres.

Judith Steinhoff, Associate Professor

Medieval (Northern Europe and Italy)
BA, Sarah Lawrence College
MFA, Princeton University
PhD, Princeton University

Professor Steinhoff's primary area of research is Italian Gothic art. Her interests include the politicization of art and artistic style in the fourteenth century. She is also interested in Medieval illuminated manuscripts throughout Europe. Prof. Steinhoff's book, Painting in Siena After the Black Death: Artistic Pluralism, Politics, and Patronage, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2006. Her other publications include "A Mysterious Magdalen; Miracles, Monastic Politics and a Lost Altarpiece for Lecceto" (in Coming About: A Festschrift for John Shearman); "Artistic Working Relationships After the Black Death: a Sienese 'compagnia', ca. 1350-ca. 1363(?)" (Renaissance Studies, 2000) and "Reality and Ideality in Sienese Renaissance Cityscapes" (in Siena in the Renaissance: Art in Context, L. Jenkens, ed.) Prof. Steinhoff has presented papers at national conferences, including at the College Art Association, the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, and the International Medieval Congress, Leeds. She is also active in TEMA (the Texas Medieval Association). Prof. Steinhoff is co-editor of and contributor to a volume entitled, Art as Politics in Medieval and Renaissance Siena. Her current research project is a study of representations of grief in art and in social rituals. Prof. Steinhoff has received several awards, including a Fulbright/Italian Government Grant, Harvard University-Danforth Center Teaching Award, a Research Initiation Grant, and a FDIP grant for development of instructional technologies from the University of Houston.

Prof. Steinhoff teaches Art History Survey I and upper level courses on Medieval Art (including Arts, Artists, and Patrons In Medieval Europe; Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts; and Italian Gothic Art and Patronage. In addition to University of Houston, she has also taught at Princeton University, Rice University, Harvard University, and Trinity College (Hartford, CT).

Roberto Tejada, Professor (joint appointment with Creative Writing)

Dr. Tejada is the author of five books of poetry, a translator, an essayist, art historian and critic. His multifaceted cultural studies investigations and creative activities have been recognized with numerous fellowships and grants including awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Foundation, Creative Capital Warhol Foundation and Brazilian university Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado.
He founded and co-edits the journal Mandorla: New Writing from the Americas and has served as executive editor of Artes de México and on the editorial board of the magazine Vuelta.
In his own words, Dr. Tejada's "practice as a poet is linked to questions of culture, issues in ethics, and the dynamics of history. I advocate on behalf of Hispanic poets and writers who explore forms of Latinidad.”
As an art historian and curator, Dr. Tejada specializes in Latino and Latin American art.
His publications on art history include National Camera: Photography and Mexico’s Image Environment(2009) and Celia Alvarez Muñoz (2009) and, as co-editor, Modern Art in Africa, Asia and Latin America: An Introduction to Global Modernisms (2012).

Sandra Zalman, Associate Professor

20th Century and Contemporary
B.A University of California, Berkeley
MA and Ph.D., University of Southern California

Dr. Zalman specializes in Modern and Contemporary Art, and her research develops out of a broad interest in the interplay between high and low forms of the visual, especially as that interaction has shaped the discourses of art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The recipient of an Andy Warhol-Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant and a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, Dr. Zalman is interested in the examination of institutions that consciously worked to present modern art to public audiences, ranging from museums and world's fairs to department stores, movies, and popular magazines. She is the author the book Consuming Surrealism in American Culture: Dissident Modernism, an analysis of how Surrealism's vernacular and avant-garde status influenced the direction and reception of American art. Her research has appeared in the journals Grey Room, Art Journal, Histoire de l’Art, Woman’s Art Journal, and the Journal of Surrealism and the Americas. At the University of Houston, she has taught courses on Museums and the Problem of Display, Surrealism and its Afterlife in American Art, the Spectacle in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, Curatorial Issues, and Art and Society from Renaissance to Modern.