Kymberly Pinder Headshot

Kymberly Pinder, PhD, is an internationally recognized scholar of race, representation, and murals, and she has been recently appointed the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art. Pinder is the first woman to lead the school. She earned her PhD in art history from Yale in 1995. Prior to her appointment at Yale, she served as acting president of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt).

Pinder has distinguished herself throughout an academic and curatorial career that has involved a series of major leadership positions. Her scholarly work, which is studied widely in art history curricula across the country, has fostered new avenues of inquiry in her field, and she has demonstrated the importance of community engagement in the arts.

Pinder’s most recent book, Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago,” explores how Black imagery in the public sphere has empowered communities in that city. Pinder also edited Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race and Art History,” a 2002 book that has launched multidisciplinary studies of the role of race in art.

While a doctoral student at Yale, Pinder published and lectured on medievalism in North America, European gothic architecture, religious imagery, and African Americans and women in art. With the support of her faculty mentors, she began studying different aspects of the formation and representation of American identity, work that continues to influence her scholarship and teaching.

In addition to her scholarship and teaching, Pinder has extensive experience leading academic, educational, and curatorial work at institutions of higher education and museums. Prior to being named the acting president of MassArt, she served as its provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. Earlier, Pinder served six years as the dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico, the state’s largest fine arts program. She also was interim director and curator of the University of New Mexico Art Museum, where her exhibition Necessary Force: Art in the Police State,” curated with her Yale classmate Karen Fiss, garnered recognition for its bold and timely content.

Prior to that, she was at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she served as the chair of the Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism and director of the graduate program.

Throughout Pinder’s career, she has created new coursework that promotes critical thinking, forums for open discussion, and opportunities to produce and display works of art that bring insight to complex issues. She has forged significant connections between her academic institutions and local communities, including collaborations with elected officials and business leaders to advocate for the importance of arts and culture in enhancing economic growth. She has curated exhibitions on urgent contemporary issues to provide forums for student and community dialogue. She also has helped to introduce arts curricula in local public schools. Working with various artists and local officials, she has taught courses that inspired the creation of murals in Chicago and Albuquerque.