Jennifer Way is an art historian who specializes in the 20th and 21st centuries, emphasizing the period from 1945 to the present.
Her work dialogues contemporary theory with primary sources, archival materials and object features and practices, to reconstitute discursive meanings that arise at the intersection of politics, economy and art.
Way’s current research explores how Americans engaged with a foreign art form in projects that intersected diplomatic agendas with domestic everyday life, and linked the United States and Vietnam on questions of affiliation and belonging in the Free World during the 1950s. This academic year, she presented material from the project at the 34th International Congress of Art History, Beijing, and at the Association for American Studies, Denver. She published on related topics as Guest Editor for two special journal issues: “Contemporary Asian Craft Worlds,” Journal of Modern Craft, with Rebecca M. Brown, and “Collections and Questions of Belonging,” Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals, with Elizabeth Weinfield.
Courses that Way has taught in relation to her research examine questions of race and American art since 1945, craft and decorative arts in historiographies of modernism; visual culture of refugees and migrants; art and suffering; objects of diplomacy; heritage and memory; and the politics of exhibitions.
In the classroom Way stresses inquiry-based student learning, community collaborations, socially-engaged art history, and research as a multi-step process. Students interface with national and international visiting scholars, engage course content with local resources, teach far away communities online through the Virtual Senior Center based in New York, and apply for conferences, residencies, and fellowships.
Building on her early work history in museum curatorial departments and the not-for-profit sector, Way enriches learning environments with programs that root student learning in area art institutions, as in the student-research oriented Collections Cultures and Collaborations, now in its 9th year, in partnership with the UNT Art Galleries. Way also partners with area colleagues and creatives to offer scholarly and community-based events, such as Conversations: Art, Politics and North Texas, a series of five local artists/scholars discussing nearby and distant intersections of art and politics.
Way’s academic leadership includes merit, equity and diversity issues resonant for the status of women in the university, addressing faculty work-life issues, shaping graduate education procedures and policies, mentoring probationary faculty and student researchers, and managing faculty merit and promotion processes.