Letha Ch'ien

Assistant Professor of Art History

Letha Chi’en
Letha Ch'ien

Office

Art 105

Office Hours

Available By Appointment Only

Advising Area

General Advisor

COURSES

  • Art History 160A/B (FLC): Art Here, There, Then, Now
  • Art History 211: Intro to Art History Global Ren-Modern 
  • Art History 300: Graded Assistant Projects
  • Art History 442: Post-Millennial Issues in Medieval Art
  • Art History 442: The Self-Conscious Italian Renaissance
  • Art History 444: Northern Renaissance
  • Art History 450: Baroque: Object to Artwork
  • Art History 480: Site Specific: Art, Place, and Space
  • Art History 480: Race and European Art
  • Art History 490: Proseminar in Visual Culture
  • Art History 492: Senior Honors Thesis

FUTURE ENDEAVORS 

Book: Polytopos: Venice, Empire, Art

Education

PhD, University of California, Berkeley, History of Art

BA, San José State University, Art History

About

Letha Ch’ien is an assistant professor of medieval and Renaissance art history. She teaches late medieval and early modern art of Europe, race and European art, space and geoaesthetics, and the proseminar in visual art and culture. Her research focuses on identity, ethnicity, and race in late medieval and early modern Venice. In addition to her scholarly activities, Dr. Ch’ien publishes art criticism on a wide range of topics.

She has published on ekphrasis, multi-ethnic pictorial practice, and race in European art in scholarly presses. Dr. Ch’ien has presented research widely at special topic symposia internationally and at the major conferences in her field including the Medieval Association of the Pacific, Renaissance Society of America, Sixteenth Century Society, SECAC, Pacific Northwest Renaissance Conference, Renaissance Conference of Southern California, and the College Art Association.

Dr. Ch’ien’s research has been supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She also has been a fellow at the Townsend Center for the Humanities. Professional training includes an NEH summer seminar and paleographic work at the Medici Archive Project and at the Newberry Library.

Public scholarship is of great interest to Dr. Ch’ien. She writes regularly for the San Francisco Chronicle and has contributed to Smarthistory, Hyperallergic, The Sundial, Artsy, and News in Context. Public speaking engagements have included the Berkeley Art Museum, the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Art.

Supporting students, especially former foster youth, in higher education is of personal importance to Dr. Ch’ien. She has served as a McNair Scholar advisor, a tutor with B2B at Laney College in Oakland, and as a mentor with Guardian Scholars at UC Davis and Berkeley Hope Scholars at UC Berkeley. She enjoys overseeing honors theses and master’s theses that have covered topics ranging from the relation of colonialism and environment in eighteenth-century fête galante paintings to early modern maps to feminist investigations of art criticism and issues of authenticity in medieval restoration projects.

Selected Publications & Presentations

SELECTED SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS

“Finding, Stealing, Translating: the Subject(s) of Tintoretto’s Brera Scuola Grande di San Marco Istoria” in Ekphrastic Image-making in the Early Modern Europe and the Americas. Edited by Walter S. Melion and Arthur J. DiFuria, Brill, 2022.
https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004462069/BP000028.xml

“Polytopos: Multi-ethnic Practice in Venetian Imagery,” in Cultures and Practices of Coexistence in the Multi-ethnic Cities of the Mediterranean World, 13th – 18th Centuries, Multi-Ethnic Cities of the Mediterranean World. Edited by Marco Folin, Antonio Musarra. New York: Routledge, 2020. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003089339-9/polytopos-early-modern-venetian-imagery-letha-ch-ien

SELECTED PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP

Chapter 57: Responding to the Early Modern European Tradition in Rethinking Art History, Smarthistory: The Center for Public Art History 
https://smarthistory.org/textbooks/responding-to-the-early-modern-european-tradition/

“White Columns, White Narratives” The Sundial (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies), September 8, 2021  https://medium.com/the-sundial-acmrs/white-columns-white-narratives-fa179bce71d9

"What can Bay Area museums do to avoid becoming unwitting vehicles of racism?," San Francisco Chronicle, October 1, 2020  https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/what-can-bay-area-museums-do-to-avoid-becoming-unwitting-vehicles-of-racism

"Bay Area professor confronts the racist aspects of European art history," San Francisco Chronicle, October 1, 2020  https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/sonoma-art-professor-tackles-race 

SELECTED REVIEWS

“De Young’s Jules Tavernier exhibition includes the perspective of the Pomo people he painted” San Francisco Chronicle December 28, 2021
https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/review-de-youngs-jules-tavernier-exhibition-includes-perspective-of-the-pomo-people-he-painted

“Amoako Boafo’s soulful portraits stand up to the hype in his first museum show,” San Francisco Chronicle October 29, 2021  https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/artist-amoako-boafos-soulful-portraits-stand-up-to-all-the-hype-in-his-first-museum-show