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Art History Coordinator, Associate Professor of Art History

Dr. John Ott
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Art History of the US before 1945, with emphasis on art patronage, museums, and markets, and on social class and its intersections with ethnicity and gender

Precolumbian Art, with emphasis on Aztec Mesoamerica

Dr. Ott has taught at Whitman College, and in the University of California system at Irvine and at Riverside. He also worked as a researcher for the exhibition Made in California (2000) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and curated the show’s ephemera and material culture.

College Art Association
Association of Historians of American Art
Association for Critical Race Art History
American Studies Association
Southeastern College Art Conference

Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Grant
Senior Fellowship, Center for the History of Collecting, Frick Art Reference Library
Robert Lehman Foundation Senior Scholar Fellowship, Rockwell Center for American Visual StudiesSmithsonian Postdoctoral Fellowship
Patricia and Phillip Frost Essay Award (“for the most distinguished contribution to American Art”)
JMU College of Visual and Performing Arts Madison Scholar
JMU General Education Distinguished Teacher
Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art
Various research and teaching grants from JMU, the Huntington Library, and UCLA


Manufacturing the Modern Patron in Victorian California: Cultural Philanthropy, Industrial Capital, and Social Authority (Ashgate Press, forthcoming January 2014).

"The Manufactured Patron: Staging Bourgeois Identity through Art Consumption in Postbellum America," in Sven Beckert and Julia Rosenbaum, eds., The American Bourgeoisie: Distinction and Identity in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 491-526.

"Reform in Redface: The Taos Society of Artists Plays Indian," American Art 23:2 (Summer 2009): 80-107.

“How New York Stole the Art Market: Blockbuster Auctions and Bourgeois Identity in Gilded Age America,” Winterthur Portfolio 42:2/3 (Summer/Autumn 2008): 133-158.

“Labored Stereotypes: Palmer Hayden's The Janitor Who Paints,“ American Art 22:1 (Spring 2008): 102-115.        


"Patrons, Collectors, and Markets,” in John Davis, Jennifer Greenhill, and Jason LaFountain, eds, Blackwell Companion to American Art (under contract, Wiley Blackwell).

“The Pigeon and the Grid: Animal Locomotion, Comparative Biology, and the Genesis of Ecological Consciousness,” in Alan C. Braddock and Laura Turner Igoe, eds., A Greene Country Towne: Philadelphia, Ecology, and the Material Imagination (under review, Penn State University Press).

Graphic Consciousness: The Visual Culture of Interracial Solidarity in the Industrial Labor Movement at Mid-century” (under review, American Quarterly).

“Battle Station MoMA: Jacob Lawrence and the Desegregation of the Armed Forces and the Art World”

Mixed Media: The Visual Cultures of Racial Integration, 1931-1954

He has also presented scholarly papers at the annual conferences of the College Art Association, the Southeastern College Art Conference, the American Studies Association, the Southwest Art History Conference, and the Popular Culture Association; at numerous universities including Case Western Reserve, Harvard, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Randolph-Macon, Temple, and Yale; and at LACMA, the San Diego Historical Society, and the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Ott is the Area Coordinator for Art History and has served on the Curriculum & Instruction, Personnel Advisory, Graduate, Honors & Awards, and Assessment Committees of the School of Art, Design, and Art History.  He is a member of the American Studies Steering and General Education Cluster Two Committees, and is active with the Africana, American Studies, and Latin American Studies Programs.  He also serves on the editorial board of Panorama, the e-journal of the Association of the Historians of American Art.

He is on educational leave for Fall 2013 to work on the book project Mixed Media: The Visual Cultures of Racial Integration, 1931-1954