You are here

Jennifer A. González

Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture
Affiliated faculty member in Feminist Studies, History of Consciousness, Digital Arts New Media, Latin American and Latino Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
Contemporary art theory, modern and contemporary art in the U.S. and Europe, race and representation in visual culture, digital art and activist art, history of photography.
831 459 2099
Research Interests: 

Jennifer Gonzalez writes about contemporary art with an emphasis on installation, digital and activist art. She is interested in understanding the strategic use of space (exhibition space, public space, virtual space) by contemporary artists and by cultural institutions such as museums. More specifically, she has focused on the representation of the human body and its relation to discourses of race and gender. González has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She has published articles in numerous scholarly and art publications such as Journal of Visual CultureFrieze, Bomb, Diacritics, Archives of American Art Journal, Camera Obscura, Open Space and Art Journal.  She has lectured extensively at universities and art museums nationally and internationally and teaches regularly at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York.

Porter College, Room D208
Office Hours: 

Spring Quarter 2024

Office Hours:

Wednesdays 9:00-11:00

Please reference this Google Doc for the Zoom ID and password, and to sign up for a meeting time:


Mailing Address: 

History of Art and Visual Culture

University of California, Santa Cruz

1156 High Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Selected Publications: 




Gonzalez's first book Subject to Display: Reframing Race In Contemporary Installation Art (MIT Press, 2008) was a finalist for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, given by the College Art Association for a particularly distinguished book in the history of art. The book explores how artists James Luna, Fred Wilson, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Pepón Osorio and Renée Green offer a critique of the racialized display practices of institutions such as museums, private collections, and art galleries as well as the cultural heirarchies reproduced in domestic spaces and government agencies.  These artists use installation techniques to analyze historical materials, to highlight colonialist discourses, to resituate subaltern bodies, and to critique the spatial and ideological divisions that perpetuate inequalities.


Pepón Osorio (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) extends her analysis of this prolific Puerto Rican installation artist whose social justice, collaborative art practice examines how communities of color grapple with difficult issues from AIDS, to mass incarceration, to foster care. The artist frequently collaborates with community youth, and each installation articulates a complex web of relations among the participants and the larger social institutions and racialized discourses they confront.  Pepón Osorio won second place in the Best Art Book category of the International Latino Book Awards, 2014.


González also served as chief editor for the co-edited volume Chicana and Chicano Art: A Critical Anthology, with Ondine Chavoya, Chon Noriega and Tere Romo, Duke University Press (2019). Comprising a diverse selection of thematically organized essays from the 1960s-2000s, this historically-oriented anthology is designed to be an introductory teaching collection for students and non-specialists. It ranked 25th in the top 100 Best Art Books of the Decade in ArtNews magazine, December 2019.


Selected Articles and Book Chapters

"Unruly Erotic," in Amalia Mesa-Bains: Archeology of Memory, edited by Laura Perez, (Berkeley Art Museum, University of California Press with Lucia | Marquand, forthcoming February 2023) 60-71. 

"After Rivera: Iconoclastic Mestizaje," in Diego Rivera's America, edited by James Oles, (Berkeley: University of California Press and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2022), 252-259.

"What is Radical?" for Art Margins, The MIT Press, October 2021, vol. 10, no.3, 42-45.

"Precarity and Protest: States of Democracy in the Work of Oliver Ressler," in Oliver Ressler: Catastrophe Bonds, (De Pere: St Norbert College, 2018)19-27.

"Categorical Refusal: Unwinding the Wound," in Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World edited by Anne Ellegood, (New York and Los Angeles: Whitney Museum of American Art and Hammer Museum, 2017) 192-197.

“Triple Threat: Queer feminist of color performance art”, in Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories, ed. Amelia Jones and Erin Silver, (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 2016) 294-303.

"Flesh in the Machine: She's Egungun Again," in Wangechi Mutu: This You Call Civilization? edited by David Moos, (Ontario: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2010) 72-75.

"Sea Dreams: Isaac Julien’s Western Union: Small Boats,” in The Migrant’s Time: Art, Dispersal, and Difference, edited by Saloni Mathur (Williamstown and New Haven: Clark Institute, distributed by Yale University Press, 2010) 115-129.

"Pose and Poseur: The Racial Politics of Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s Photo-Performances,” co-authored with Guillermo Gómez-Peña, in Race and Classification: The Case of Mexican America, edited by Ilona Katzew and Susan Deans-Smith, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010), 236-263.

"The Face and the Public: Race, Secrecy and Digital Art Practice," in Camera Obscura 70, Vol. 24, No. 1 (2009): 37-65.

Christian Marclay: Overtures,” in Christian Marclay (London: Phaidon Press, 2005)

Electronic Habitus: Agit-prop in an imaginary world,” in Visual Worlds, John R. Hall, Blake Stimson and Lisa Tamiris Becker, eds., (New York: Routledge, 2003)

Morphologies: Race as Visual Technology” in Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (New York: International Center of Photography, 2003)

Paul Pfeiffer” in Bomb, Spring 2002, Issue 83: 22-29

Landing in California” in Art/Women/California 1950-2000: Parallels and Intersections, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 219-240

Against the Grain: The Artist as Conceptual Materialist” in Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations 1979-2000 (Baltimore: Center for Art and Visual Culture,University of Maryland Baltimore County, 2000)

"The Appended Subject: Race and Identity as Digital Assemblage,” in Race in Cyberspace, Beth Kolko, Lisa Nakamura, Gil Rodman, eds., (New York: Routledge, 2000)

Selected Presentations: 



Keynote: “Silence and Speech,”  Association of Historians of American Art, annual conference, University of Maryland and Smithsonian Institution (October 15)

"Art, Borders and Detention: The Space of Law in Contemporary Art,"at the Interdisciplinary Law & Humanities Junior Scholars Workshop, USC Gould School of Law (June 28)

Invited discussion with political theorist Chantal Mouffe, Whitney Museum Independent Study Program,  (May 29)

Invited speaker, “Fearless Speech,” History of Art, Arizona State University (April 14)

Keynote: "Fearless Speech: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and Sharon Hayes," the Power Institute, University of Sydney Australia as part of the international series "Image Complex: Art, Visuality and Power in the United States" (March 4)

Invited panelist with Bridget Cooks, graduate symposium on the future of museums, History of Art, UC Berkeley, (March 12)


"Speech as Medium, Democracy as Metaphor," for the annual Jane Green Endowed Lecture in Art History, Mills College (Nov 19)

Round table discussion, Chicano and Chicana Art: A Critical Anthology, with guest authors Felicia Rice, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Laura Perez and Catherine Ramirez, hosted by Latin American and Latino Studies and History of Art and Visual Culture, UC Santa Cruz (Oct 8)

Respondent,Whitney Museum Independent Study Program,Critical Studies Spring Symposium, New York (May 23)

"Western Union: Small Boats," at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in conjunction with the exhibition Isaac Julien: Playtime, (May18) 

"Chicano and Chicana Art: The perils and possibilities of anthologies," for the panel, "Publishing Latino/a/x Art and Scholarship in the 21st Century," sixth annual Latino Arts Now! conference, Houston, Texas (April 6)


Invited keynote speaker,  "50 Years: Whitney Museum Independent Study Progarm", Whitney Museum, New York (October 20)

Invited speaker, "Art and Activism" with Laurie Palmer, Resource Center for Non-Violence, Santa Cruz (July 27)

Respondant, Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, Spring Symposium, New York (May 19)

Respondant, "Movements in Art and Activism: Radical Practice in California and Beyond," College Art Association, Los Angeles (February 22)

Invited speaker, "Questions that Matter: Freedom and Race," public talk for The Humanities Institute, University of California, Santa Cruz (January 30)


Invited speaker, "Feminist Self-Portraits: Comparing Selves," gallery walk through for Radical Women-Latin American Art 1960-1985, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (October 26)

Invited discussant with Anna Tsing and TJ Demos, Against the Anthropocene, book launch, Institute of the Arts and Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, (October 17)

Invited discussant, "Traction: Art Talks with Tanya Brugera," Institute of the Arts and Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, (October 3)

Invited speaker, "Humanism and Anti-Humanism in American Art History" conference, Terra Foundation, Giverny, France (September 20)

Workshop organizer and participant, "Propagate: Art Pedagodies," San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (August 17)



Public launch and roundtable discussion of Journal of Visual Culture special issue on “Visual Activism,” Modern Times Bookstore, San Francisco (June 13)

Invited speaker, “Radical Chicana Artists” for Dialogues in the Present Tense: Latino and Latin American Art through the Lens of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, Getty Foundation, Los Angeles (May 16) 

Invited speaker, “Orality and Democracy: Discursive Frames in Contemporary Art,” graduate symposium, Department of Art History, University of Texas at Austin, (April 12)



Invited speaker, “Cartographies of Democracy,” Graduate Symposium, San Francisco Art Institute (January 31)

Invited panelist, Imagining a U.S. Latino Art History, College Art Association (Feb 14)

Invited speaker, “Cartographies of Democracy,” Whitney Museum Independent Study Program (February 12)

Invited speaker, “Cartographies of Democracy,” Scripps College, Claremont (March 4)

Invited speaker, “Bodies, Technologies and Race Politics,” UC San Diego Art Department graduate seminar (March 5)



Invited speaker, Multimodal Interaction workshop, Department of Philosophy, UC Berkeley (December 6)

Invited speaker, “From Face to Skin,” This Is Not About The Future: Black Digital Culture Now, conference hosted by CAL Arts, Valencia & Los Angeles, CA (November 14-15)

Invited panelist, “Defying Categories” for Nuestra América: Expanding Perspectives in American Art fourth biennial Latino Art Now! conference, hosted by the Inter-University program for Latino research, Smithsonian Latino Center and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Nov 7-9)

Invited panelist, Ford Foundation Fellows Conference, Irvine, CA (September 26-28)

Invited juror and discussant, Interdisciplinary Law & Humanities Junior Scholars Workshop, USC Law School (June 7-9)

Invited speaker, Jean Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child exhibition panel discussion at Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco with Lewis Watts and Jordana Moore Sagasse (May 15)

Invited speaker, roundtable discussion about the book Pepón Osorio, with Pepón Osorio and Chon Noriega, Hunter College (May 9)

Conference co-organizer, International Association of Visual Culture biannual conference, Visual Activism with Julia Bryan-Wilson (UC Berkeley) and Dominic Wilsdon (SF MOMA). (March 14-16)



Invited speaker, “The Face and the Public” at the Traveling Concepts in Cultural Analysis conference, University of Rostock, Germany (May 30-June 1)

Invited speaker, “The Face and Race in the Public Sphere” at the Visions of the Now conference, Stockholm, Sweden

Invited graduate seminar speaker, “Contemporary Art and the Problematic of Ethnography,” l'Université Paris-Sorbonne for Professor Arnaud Maillet (May 21)

Invited graduate seminar speaker, “Cyborg Bodies and Adaptation” at l’Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, for Professor Eric Michaud (April 16)

Invited graduate seminar speaker, “Digital Art and the Politics of Race,” Université de Rennes, for Professor Elvan Zubayan (April 10)



Invited lecture, “Time Migrants: Contemporary Art and the Future of the Humanities,” Brown University (November 12)

Invited panelist, “Absolute Democracy” Truth is Concrete international symposium, Graz, Austria (September 26)

Symposium organizer and participant Digital Art and Democracy: Questions of Race and Representation, University of California Santa Cruz (June 1)

Invited virtual speaker, Now! Visual Culture, International Association for Visual Culture inaugural conference, New York University (May 31)

Invited speaker, The Artist As Ethnographer conference, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (May 26, 27)

Invited speaker, Swinging and Flowing: Inclusion and Diversity in the Age of Big Data, UC Berkeley (April 26)

Teaching Interests: 

Contemporary art in the U.S. and Europe, history of the museum, activist art since 1960, history of photography, theories of representation, feminist theory

Honors and Awards: 

Outstanding Mentorship of Undergraduates, UCSC (2022)

Chicano and Chicana Art: A Critical Anthology, included in "Best Art Books of the Decade" by ARTNews Magazine (2019)

Best Latino Arts Book, second place, International Latino Book Awards, for Pepón Osorio (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013)

Excellence in Mentoring, Division of the Arts (2013)

Excellence in Teaching Award, University of California, Santa Cruz (2010)

Joanne Cassullo Teaching Fellow, Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002, 2004, 2007)

Andrew Wyeth Publication Grant, College Art Association (2009)

President’s Research Fellowship in the Humanities, University of California (2000)

American Council of Learned Societies Junior Fellowship (2000)

Ford Foundation Dissertation Grant (1996)

Education and Training: 
BA, Philosophy, Yale University, New Haven
PhD, History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz