Cara Jordan is an art historian, writer, and educator whose research focuses on contemporary political, activist, and socially engaged public art. She completed her PhD in art history at the Graduate Center, CUNY, where she studied postwar public art in the United States. Her dissertation, entitled “Joseph Beuys and Social Sculpture in the United States,” discusses the role of Beuys’s theory of social sculpture in socially engaged art in the 1980s and 1990s. This is also the topic of the book that she co-edited with Karen van den Berg and Philipp Kleinmichel, The Art of Direct Action: Social Sculpture and Beyond (Sternberg Press, 2019).
Her professional career is focused on helping artists connect to the public through exhibitions, various media platforms, and publications. Since 2015, she has worked as a freelance editor for academics, museums, and publishers (see here for more info). Prior to that, she assisted several artists, including Luca Buvoli, Peter Halley, and Christian Philipp Müller, in creating websites and archival databases, writing and editing, and organizing exhibitions. From 2013 to 2015, she assisted the Graduate Center’s Public Programs department in conceiving and presenting academic events such as lectures, conferences, and performances. And, from 2009 to 2012, she served as the director of programs for a grassroots public art organization, the North Brooklyn Public Art Coalition, where she curated multiple public projects.
From 2013 to 2018, Cara served as the author of Peter Halley’s catalogue raisonné of 1980s paintings, for which she has conducted research and documented nearly 190 of the artist’s early works. The resulting publication was released by JRP|Ringier in 2019. She published articles on her research on Beuys in the peer-review journals FIELD (2018) and Public Art Dialogue (2013), and the online Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics (2016). She has contributed essays on pedagogy to Art History Teaching Resources website and criticism to the the Brooklyn Rail, Journal for Curatorial Studies, and US Art.
Cara lectures regularly on art writing for the Bronx Museum’s Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program. She has also taught art history at CUNY’s City College, Hunter College, and Kingsborough Community College, and lectured at the University of Virginia; Decad art space in Berlin; the Universidad de Barcelona, Spain; and Zeppelin Universität, Germany. She currently lives in New York, where she is Provost’s Fellow in the Arts in the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center.