Los Angeles, CA

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Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California

Monica Bravo specializes in the modern art of the Americas and the history of photography. Her first book, Greater American Camera: Making Modernism in Mexico, was published by Yale University Press in June 2021, with support from the Terra and Wyeth Foundations for American Art. It was shortlisted for the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award from the College Art Association (CAA). The book examines exchanges between U.S. modernist photographers–including Edward Weston, Tina Modotti, Paul Strand, and Helen Levitt–and modern Mexican artists working in painting, poetry, music, photography, and film, resulting in the development of a Greater American modernism in the interwar period. This research was supported by fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), the Center for Creative Photography, the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center, the Harry Ransom Center, the Huntington Library and Art Collections, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Bravo’s next major research project, Silver Pacific: A Material History of Photography and its Minerals, 1840-1890, transforms the geographies typically associated with American photographic history to consider transpacific networks and overlapping ecologies. Informed by the environmental humanities and technical art history, her analysis looks not only at the surface of photographs as images, but through to the photographs as objects—material encrustations of regional mineral wealth, extracted by (often migrant) human labor. This research has been supported by a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society and a Getty/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art.

Her writing has appeared in American Art, History of Photography, The History of Illustration,, Art Criticism, and Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art, for which she co-guest edited an essay collection titled “Re-Reading American Photographs.” Prior to coming to USC, Bravo was an Assistant Professor at California College of the Arts, and a Lecturer at Yale University in the History of Art Department and Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, where she developed ParkCulture with her students. She is an inaugural co-chair of Photography Network, a CAA Affiliated Society.

  • B.A., Studio Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 2004
  • M.A., Art History and Criticism, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 2009
  • Ph.D., History of Art and Architecture, Brown University, Providence, RI, 2016