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About Us: Faculty: Lisa Van Arragon

Elizabeth Van Arragon, Assistant Professor, Art and Art History

Lisa VanArragon616-526-6637
Office: Spoelhof Center 207



MA, University of Iowa
PhD, University of Iowa


Research and Professional Interests

  • Early 20th century Documentary Photography
  • Art and Identity Politics

Recent Publications

  • The Photo League: Views of Urban Experience in the 1930s and 1940s, Lambert Academic Press, 2010
  • “From Observation to Personal Vision: Hague School Landscapes and Modernism,” Between Nature and Nationality: The Hague School in the Nineteenth Century (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Calvin College, 2007).

Conference Presentations

  • Organizer and Chair, “Disability and Photography: from the Streets to the Museum to the Blog” Society for Disability Studies Annual Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2014.
  • Organizer and Chair, “Critical Issues in the History of Photography” Midwest Art History Society Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 2011.
  • “Picturing the Local: The Photo League and the American City in the Thirties and Forties,” American Studies panel, National Communication Association, San Diego, California, November 23, 2008.
  • “Debating a Political Aesthetic: The New York City Photo League,” Modernist Studies Association Annual Conference, Long Beach, California, November 4, 2007.
  • “Critiquing or Upholding Stereotypes of Race? Aaron Siskind and Harlem Cabarets,” Photography and the Cultural Imaginary panel, Midwest American Studies Association Annual Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana, October 28, 2006.

Scholarly Presentations

  • “Disability Aesthetics: A Place at the Intersection of Disability Rights and Disability Arts” Society for Disability Studies Annual Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 12, 2014.
  • “Resistant Documentary: Photographs of the Disability Rights Movement” Society for Disability Studies Annual Conference, Orlando, Florida, June 28, 2013.
  • “Multicultural Curriculum Transformation: From Theory to Praxis”
    The Inclusive Campus: Climate, Pedagogy, and Scholarship, Davenport University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 7, 2011.
  • “Harlem Document, Aaron Siskind, and the Feature Group”
    Ansel Adams Fellowship Lecture, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 21 April 2010.

Public Lectures

  • “Permanence and Impermanence” Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Sculpture Park Walk, July 28, 2013, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” Calvin College, in conjunction with the exhibition Associated American Artists, Art by
    Subscription, 16 September 2011.
  • "Conceptual Art 101: Art as Idea as Idea,” Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, in conjunction with the Jaume Plensa exhibition and International Sculpture Conference, October 19, 2008.
  • "Issues in Art from the 1960s to the Present,” lecture/tutorial for GRAM Docents, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 3, 2008.
  • "Responses to Modernism in Contemporary Dutch Painting,” Grand Rapids Art Museum, in conjuction with the exhibition, A Faithful Eye: Works from the ABN/AMRO Collection, January 6, 2008.

Current Project

A journal article and a book on a unique documentary survey, Harlem Document, led by the modernist photographer Aaron Siskind in the late 1930s.