Art History and Museum Studies
Special Assistant to the Dean for Education & Arts Partnerships
College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
410-455-2840 FA 333
Art historian and critic Kathy O’Dell focuses her research on performance art, global art, issues of violence, and the importance of the esoteric. Her articles and reviews have appeared in a variety of publications, including Art in America, Artforum, Performance Research, TDR: The Drama Review, Textile: The Journal of Cloth & Culture, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, and Link: A Critical Journal on the Arts in Baltimore and the World, a journal she co-founded that published ten issues between 1996 and 2005. Author of Contract with the Skin: Masochism, Performance Art, and the 1970s (University of Minnesota Press, 1998), Dr. O’Dell currently is working on a sole-authored book titled Dot: A Small History of a Big Point, is co-authoring with Kristine Stiles a survey text titled World Art Since 1933, and is editing Gun Show: An Ongoing Discussion. The latter is a post-exhibition catalogue for Gun Show, an exhibition of work by sculptor David Hess comprising 112 facsimile assault rifles that he fabricated from found objects with the intention of generating discussion of one of today’s most volatile issues. The exhibition was held in 2017 at UMBC’s Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture (CADVC), where in 1997 she curated the first retrospective of the artwork of the renowned feminist writer but less well-known artist Kate Millett, titled Kate Millett, Sculptor: The First 38 Years.
Dr. O’Dell received her B.A. in French and Art from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, her M.A. in Art History from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in Art History from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is on the Board of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA), where she co-chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and is also a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Maryland State Arts Council. She chairs the Higher Education in the Arts Task Force (HEAT Force) of the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance (AEMS) and serves on the Baltimore County Arts Guild Advisory Board and the HoCoArts Exhibits Committee.
Dr. O’Dell has been a faculty member in the Department of Visual Arts at UMBC since 1992. In 2001, she joined the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences as Associate Dean. In 2014, she became Special Assistant to the Dean for Education & Arts Partnerships and returned to teaching and research in the Department of Visual Arts as Associate Professor of Art History & Museum Studies. She teaches undergraduate Visual Arts students and Intermedia & Digital Arts M.F.A. graduate students, with a focus on contemporary art history and theory, as well as the writing practices of artists.