• Short Talks on Big Ideas: Meet Mary Coffey

    Tuesday, September 14, 2021
    News Type

A National Treasure on Dartmouth's Campus

Dartmouth NEXT is thrilled to introduce the next speaker in our Short Talks on Big Ideas series, Professor of Art History Mary Coffey. 

Professor Coffey’s work focuses on modern Mexican history and visual culture, specializing in Mexican muralism and the politics of exhibition—which is the reason that she writes and teaches about Dartmouth’s national treasure, José Clemente Orozco’s Epic of American Civilization.

She also writes on American art, Latin American cultural studies, and museum studies. Her work includes many published essays on a wide range of visual culture aspects, including Mexican folk art, motorcycles, and eugenics exhibits. 

Coffey’s award-winning debut book, How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State, was published by Duke University Press in 2012. In this work, she looks at the fascinating and often interdependent relationship between Mexican muralism and Mexican museum practices. The book received the Charles Rufus Morey Prize from the College Art Association for a distinguished book published in Art History in 2012.

Her second book, Orozco’s American Epic: Myth, History, and the Melancholy of Race (Duke, 2020), offers the first book-length analysis of José Clemente Orozco’s 24-panel fresco, The Epic of American Civilization, which Orozco painted between 1931 and 1934 in Baker Library on Dartmouth’s campus. Coffey contextualizes Orozco within the context of his contemporaries, demonstrating the Epic’s critique of race and nationalism while also looking at the way that resonates with today’s debates about race, immigration, borders, and national identity.

Don't Miss Professor Coffey on Short Talks, Big Ideas

Professor Coffey studied Art History and Cultural Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before her time at Dartmouth, she was on faculty at Pomona College between 1999 and 2001. From 2001–2004 she was a faculty fellow and internship coordinator at New York University’s Graduate Program in Museum Studies.

Mary Coffey is an affiliated professor with the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies Program. She has also taught courses on public art, José Clemente Orozco, Fluxus, and museum practice, as well as introductory surveys of Western Art History and contemporary art.

Professor Coffey frequently gives public lectures and tours of the José Clemente Orozco murals and current exhibitions at the Hood Museum of Art.

The latest episode of Short Talks, Big Ideas premiered on September 9, 2021. You can learn more about the premiere and other ways to watch it by visiting the Dartmouth NEXT website. 

Dartmouth NEXT is a virtual forum of big ideas—developed to bring the best of Dartmouth straight to you. Each month we explore contemporary issues and engage in conversations around the world’s most significant challenges during virtual events streamed straight from campus ’round the girdled earth.