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Mary Coffey


Associate Professor - Chair
North American and Latin American
Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1999

Courses Taught at Dartmouth

  • Art History 70, American Art and Identity
  • Art History 71, The American Century: 20th Century Art from the United States
  • Art History 72, Mexican Muralism
  • Art History 75 20th Century Art from Latin America
  • Art History 76, Mexican Modernism
  • Art History 85 Theory and Methods in Art History

In addition to these courses, Mary Coffey has also taught specialized courses on public art, José Clemente Orozco, Fluxus, and museum practice, as well as the introductory survey of Western Art History.

 Special Interests

Mary Coffey specializes in the history of modern Mexican visual culture, with an emphasis on Mexican muralism and the politics of exhibition. She also publishes in the fields of American art, Latin American cultural studies, and museum studies. She has published essays on a broad range of visual culture, from Mexican folk art to motorcycles to eugenics exhibitions.

Mary Coffey studied Art History and Cultural Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before joining the faculty at Dartmouth she taught at Pomona College (1999-2001) and was a Faculty Fellow and Internship Coordinator at New York University's Graduate Program in Museum Studies (2001-2004).

Mary Coffey's book How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State was published by Duke University Press in 2012. This book offers the first study of the reciprocal relationship between Mexican muralism and Mexican museum practice. Through case studies of the nation’s three most significant public museums, all of which include major works of mural art—the Palace of Fine Arts, the National History Museum, and the National Anthropology Museum—it traces the transformation of Mexican muralism from a public art with radical social intentions into a form of state propaganda. The book reveals that artists often willingly and at other times inadvertently participated in the official construction of national art, history, and ethnic origins proclaimed within these museums. Simultaneously, it shows how the museum brought mural art to the popular audiences its artists hoped to reach, albeit in ways they did not anticipate. How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture received the Charles Rufus Morey Prize from the College Art Association for a distinguished book published in Art History in 2012.

She is currently conducting new research for two books. The first is a monograph on Jose Clemente Orozco's Epic of American Civilization. The second analyzes the exhibition of folk art, exploring the impact of privatization on how folk artists produce and market their work and on how their art is exhibited and consumed.

At Dartmouth Mary Coffey gives public lectures and tours of the José Clemente Orozco murals in Baker-Berry Library, as well as current exhibitions at the Hood Museum of Art.

Mary Coffey is an affiliated professor with the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies and the Women and Gender Studies Programs.

 Selected Publications

  • "How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State" (Duke University Press, 2012).
  • Modern Art in Africa, Asia, and Latin America: An Introduction to Global Modernisms, ed. Elaine O'Brien, Everlyn Nicodemus, Melissa Chiu, Benjamin Genocchio, Mary K. Coffey, and Roberto Tejada (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).
  •  "'All Mexico on a Wall': Diego Rivera's Murals at the Ministry of Public Education," in Mexican Muralism, A Critical History, ed. Alejandro Anreus, Leonard Folgarait, Robin Adele Greeley (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).
  • "An 'AMERICAN Idea': Myth, Indigeneity, and Violence in the Work of Orozco and Pollock," in Men of Fire: José Clemente Orozco and Jackson Pollock (Hanover, N.H.: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; Habover, NH: University Press of New England, 2012), 21-36.
  • "The 'Hovey Mural' and the 'Greening' of Orozco's Epic of American Civilization" in Walter Beach Humphrey's 'Hovey Mural' at Dartmouth College: A Cultural History, ed. Brian P. Kennedy and Katherine Hart (Hanover, N.H.: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College; Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2011),  79-106.
  • "Banking on Folk Art: Banamex-Citigroup and Transnational Cultural Citizenship," Bulletin of Latin American Research 29, no. 3 (July 2010): 296-312.
  • "Coffey: Droning on About the Facts," The Dartmouth, Op-Ed, Thursday, October 3, 2013.
  •  "A Mural Imperative," The Dartmouth, Op-Ed, Thursday, November 11, 2010.
  • “’I’m not the Fourth Great One’: Rufino Tamayo and Mexican Muralism,” in Tamayo: A Modern Icon Reinterpreted, ed. Diana du Pont (Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 2007), 247-267.
  • “’We Other Romantics’: Wenda Gu, Dartmouth, and the Investment in Art’s Transcendence,” Dartmouth Free Press, Issue 8.4, November 9, 2007.
  • “Of Bodies and Embodiment: Fred Wilson's So Much Trouble in the World - Believe it or not!” in So Much Trouble in the World - Believe it or not! ed. Barbara Thompson (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2006).
  • “The American Adonis: A Natural History of the Average American Man, 1921-1932,” in Popular Eugenics: American Mass Culture in the 1930s, ed. Sue Currell and Christina Cogdell (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006).
  • “Angels and Prostitutes: José Clemente Orozco's Catharsis and the Politics of Female Allegory in 1930s Mexico,” CR: The New Centennial Review 4, no. 2 (2004): 1-33.
  • Co-authored with Jeremy Packer, “Hogging the Road: Cultural Governance and the Citizen Cyclist,” Cultural Studies 18, no. 5 (July 2004): 641-674.
  • "Histories that Haunt: A Conversation with Ann Hamilton," Art Journal 60, no. 3 (Fall 2001): 10-23.
  • PodCast on the Orozco mural

Last Updated: 3/13/14