Meet Lex Lancaster, Assistant Professor of Art History

POSTED ON: August 14, 2023

Lex Lancaster

This fall, we are excited to welcome several new full-time faculty members to The Cooper Union’s academic programs. As part of a series introducing this new faculty cohort to our wider community, we spoke to Lex Lancaster who joins the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as assistant professor of art history. Lancaster received their Ph.D. in art history and visual culture studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. Prior to arriving at Cooper, they were assistant professor of art history, gallery director, and affiliate faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina-Upstate.

Tell us about your research interests.

I specialize in queer and trans contemporary art practices, and I work at the intersections of contemporary art history and queer, trans, critical race, and crip theories. I recently published a book on queer abstraction and am continuing to write about trans art practices that use abstraction, driven by the question of how processes of making and viewing that move us away from direct representation and legibility can operate socially and politically in relation to intersecting issues of gender, sexuality, race, decolonization, and disability.  

What brought you to The Cooper Union?

I am delighted to join the humanities faculty at Cooper Union. I was hired specifically because of my expertise in LGBTQ+ contemporary art histories—this is one of very few such positions in the country, and it speaks to Cooper's commitment to supporting queer and trans students and their practices, and an important move toward centralizing critical race and LGBTQ+ perspectives in the curriculum (work that is clearly already underway here).  

What aspects of teaching are you most excited about in the coming academic year at Cooper?

I think Cooper is the perfect teaching environment for me because I spent the past five years teaching primarily art students, and I have a particular commitment to working with current artists both as a scholar and a professor. I am excited to introduce my students to the ways that queer and trans visual practices and theories can critically inform their practices. I believe that makers change the world, and I hope to cultivate that desire in my students. I will be teaching in the core curriculum this first year, and next year students can look forward to elective courses I will offer focusing on queer and trans art practices and theories. In the meantime, I hope that students who are especially interested in these issues will reach out to me. I can't wait to get started!

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

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