Department of Art History
North American and Latin American
Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 1999
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.
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 has completed a book on manuscript entitled How a Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State (Duke University Press 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.
She is currently conducting new research for a second book on the exhibition of folk art within Mexico and the United States that explores the role folk art has played in cultivating popular citizenship, national and transnational identity, and developing the tourist economy. This book explores 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.
Last Updated: 10/22/12