Nicole F. Scalissi

Nicole F. Scalissi is a historian of modern and contemporary art and her research focuses on issues of identity, equity, and violence in the contemporary United States and at its borders. She earned her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh (2019) and carries an MA in Art History from The Pennsylvania State University (2013). She is affiliated faculty in UNCG’s Afro-Latin American/Latinx Studies Project.

As a teacher, Dr. Scalissi seeks to cultivate curiosity, create community, and help students develop their own critical voices in public-facing projects such as the Industries of the Blind and School of Art Public Art Project. Her courses include histories of Western modernism and global contemporary art, social justice movements in the Americas, performance art and social practice, and taste and criticism. Dr. Scalissi’s teaching, as well as her research, are informed by the perspectives of intersectionality, critical race, and cultural studies.

Dr. Scalissi’s book project focuses on artists working in the US who, during the 1970s and beyond, stage scenes of violence against women, Latinx, Black/African American, and Afro-Latinx communities—marginalized communities with which the artists themselves identify—in order to call attention to the prevalence of violence disproportionately committed against people of color in the US at a broader societal level. This research situates these performances and embodied installations as acts of democratic engagement in the face of biased media representations, social inequity, and inhibited access to art venues, while questioning the ethics of surprise display and how grief or pleasure is conjured in this tension between what’s real and what’s staged. Dr. Scalissi’s current research extends these concerns of safety, gender, and democracy to the uniquely American violent phenomenon of school shootings by examining visual culture—including video games, music videos, sonic and visual installations— engaged with this subject since the 1990s.

Recent Publications

“‘An Imagined Border of Safety, Humanitarian Relief, and Creativity’: J.M. Design Studio’s ‘Other Border Wall Project,’” Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture 7 (2018),

“From #MeToo to What Now?: Coping With Sexualized Violence in Art History,” Constellations Blog (November 2018),

“Review: Firelei Báez: Bloodlines,” Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture 6 (2017),

Real violence: Jordan Wolfson, Virtual Reality, and the Privilege of Allegory,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Violence in Film and Media (Palgrave, 2022), [chapter available here]