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2015 Driskell Prize Winner: Kirsten Pai Buick

Kirsten Pai Buick headshotKirsten Pai Buick specializes in American art, focusing her research on African-American art, the impact of race and gender on the history of art, representations of the American landscape, and the history of women as patrons and collectors of the arts. She has advanced scholarship of the work of numerous African-American artists through publications including the first book-length examination of the life and career of 19th-century sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis.

Buick is a tenured associate professor at the University of New Mexico, where she has taught for more than 14 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in art history and Italian literature in 1985 from the University of Chicago. In the early 1990s, Buick moved to Italy for eight months to continue her work on Italian studies. Noting the prominence of U.S. visual culture in Europe during her time there, she re-focused her area of concentration to British colonial and American art upon her return to the United States. She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in art history from the University of Michigan.

Buick has published extensively on African-American art. Her book Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject was published by Duke University Press, and her second book, In Authenticity: ‘Kara Walker’ and the Eidetics of Racism, is currently in progress. Her published articles include studies on the work of artists including Daniel Coburn, Patrick Nagatani, Joseph Delaney, Aaron Douglas, Horace Pippin, and Kehinde Wiley.

In addition to receiving the Driskell Prize, Buick has earned numerous academic, professional, and scholarly awards and grants including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Predoctoral Fellowship, the Charles Gaius Bolin Fellowship at Williams College, CAA Professional Development Fellowship in Art History, Rhoades Foundation Visiting Lectureship, and the UNM University Libraries Faculty Acknowledgement Award.


Learn more about the David C. Driskell Prize and other previous winners.