Nisa Ari

Associate Professor, FT

Nisa Ari is Associate Professor of Art History at Montserrat College of Art. Prior to her appointment at Montserrat, she was the inaugural Beinecke Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. (2021-23) and held visiting appointments at Georgetown University (2023) and the University of Houston (2019-21). She earned her Ph.D. in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture program at MIT.

She specializes in 19th and 20th century visual practices, with a focus on artwork from the Middle East. Her research explores the relationships between cultural politics and the development of art institutions, especially in the wake of the Ottoman Empire’s dissolution and later colonial and postcolonial developments in the region. Her current book project, Before “Palestinian Art:” Cultural Mandates, Artistic Missions, and The Welfare of Palestine, explores how radical political transformations from the last decades of Ottoman rule until the establishment of the State of Israel changed the nature of artistic production in Palestine.

Dr. Ari’s research has been published in the journals Third Text, Arab Studies Journal, and Thresholds, and has been supported by numerous fellowships, including the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), the Mellon Foundation/American Council for Learned Societies, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Palestinian American Research Center, and Darat al Funun. She is the recipient of the 2017 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art from the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) and has served as a book reviews editor for AMCA since 2018. Dr. Ari previously served as Associate Director of the Studio Program at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City and recently curated exhibitions at the Qalandiya International Art Biennial (Jerusalem/Ramallah) and the Keller Gallery at MIT.

At Montserrat, she teaches courses on Modern Art, Islamic Art and Architecture, Modern Art in the Middle East, the Global History of Photography, and Orientalism, among other specialized course topics.

Education: B.A. Stanford University; Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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