About the Author: Kellie Jones '81


Current Home:
Brooklyn, New York

Place of Birth:
New York, New York

B.A. Amherst College, 1981 (magna cum laude)
Ph.D. Yale University, 1999

Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
Loved the pioneer valley and the five college program.  Liked the idea of the focus and attention of college instruction, and yet the ability to also have the larger community that the five colleges (and bus service!) provided               

Favorite (most memorable or most influential) class at Amherst:
so many; but also junior year abroad in Colombia, South America and in San Francisco, CA               

Favorite (most memorable or most influential) professor:
so many: Black Studies: Andrea Benton Rushing, Asa Davis, Douglas Davidson; Spanish: James Maraniss, Doris Sommer, Elizabeth Garrels; Fine Arts: John Pemberton, Joel Upton

Tips for aspiring writers?
Keep writing no matter what.  Write every day.

Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author:
Being from a family of writers, writing was just something that one did.  Words and language were fun.  I didn’t consciously set out to be a writer.  I wrote as a curator, as a guest essayist, or critic.  Writing seemed to be part of other things I was doing.  Then one day I had published a pretty large book of my writings.  I guess I’m a writer!

Dr. Kellie Jones is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. Her research interests include African American and African Diaspora artists, Latino/a and Latin American Artists, and issues in contemporary art and museum theory.

Dr. Jones was named an Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellow in 2008 for her lifetime of writing on visual art.  The fellowship commemorates the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling of 1954 which struck down legal segregation; it recognizes candidates whose work honors and furthers the spirit of the statute. In 2005 she was the inaugural recipient of the David C. Driskell Award in African American Art and Art History from the High Museum of Art, Atlanta and a Scholar-in-Residence, at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. 

Dr. Jones’s writings have appeared in numerous exhibition catalogues and the journals NKA, Artforum, Flash Art, Atlantica, and Third Text among others.  Her book EyeMinded: Living and Writing Contemporary Art (Duke University Press 2011) has been named one of the top art books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly.  Her project Taming the Freeway and Other Acts of Urban HIP-notism: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s is forthcoming from The MIT Press.

Dr. Jones has also worked as a curator for over two decades and has numerous major national and international exhibitions to her credit. She has organized shows for the Johannesburg Biennale (1997) and São Paulo Bienal (1989), the latter of which, featuring the work of Martin Puryear, won the grand prize for best individual exhibition.  She is the curator of “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960-1980,” which opened at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles in October 2011, and has been named one of the best exhibitions of the year by Artforum and The Los Angeles Times. “Now Dig This!” is part of the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time initiative—a region-wide project documenting Southern California’s contributions to artistic movements in the postwar period.