May 18, 2011

Rickard named director of American Indian Program

A curator of indigenous culture around the world, Cornell art historian Jolene Rickard will cultivate Cornell's American Indian Program (AIP) as its new director, effective July 1.

Rickard, associate professor in the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, will succeed Eric Cheyfitz, the Ernest I. White Professor of American Studies and Humane Letters at Cornell.

Cheyfitz, who served as director for the past three years, will be spending a year on sabbatical and will continue to remain active in AIP through research and teaching upon his return.

"The American Indian Program embodies so much of what the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences strives to be: a holistic, interdisciplinary education and outreach program that promotes diversity and sustainability," said Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"Dr. Cheyfitz has been instrumental in driving this vision and increasing the visibility of AIP here at Cornell and across the nation," Boor added. "I have no doubt that Dr. Rickard's outstanding academic accomplishments and personal experiences will further strengthen the fantastic program."

Rickard, who joined the Cornell faculty in 2006, earned her Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She was a 2010-2011 Cornell University Society for the Humanities Fellow.

Among the courses she teaches are Introduction to American Indian Studies; Indigenous Art and Globalism; Indigenous Art, Film and New Media: Anti-Colonial Studies; The Museum and the Other; and Photography and the Colonial Gaze.

Rickard has been a curator for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and has exhibited at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Barbican Art Center in London, U.K., and the Museum der Weltkulturen in Frankfurt, Germany.

She is conducting research in the Americas, Europe, New Zealand and Australia, supported by a Ford Foundation Research Grant that will culminate in a new journal on indigenous aesthetics. She has authored several essays and a forthcoming book on visual sovereignty.

Rickard, a member of the Tuscarora Nation, which is part of the Iroquois Confederacy, describes herself as a visual historian, artist and curator with an interest in the issues of indigeneity within a global context.

"My scholarship is about creating a journal that looks at how our cultures express themselves, and it's always connected in some way to our thoughts and ideas as indigenous people," she said.

Established in 1983, AIP offers an undergraduate and graduate minor and about 20 courses in anthropology, development sociology, earth and atmospheric sciences, education, English, history, horticulture, law and natural resources.

It also provides extensive recruitment and support services, contributing to one of the country's highest retention rates for Native American students, and includes Akwe:kon, the first university residence hall and program house in the country built to celebrate Native culture and heritage.

Stacey Shackford is a staff writer at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.