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Patricia A. Johnston

Visual Arts Department

Rev. J. Gerard Mears, S.J. Chair in Fine Arts
Chair, Department of Visual Arts

Ph.D., Boston University

Fields: American Art, History of Photography, Modern Art

•   CV (PDF) »

Office Phone: 508-793-3715
Office: Fenwick 442
PO Box: 60A


Patricia Johnston, the Rev. J. Gerard Mears, S.J., Chair in Fine Arts at the College of Holy Cross is a nationally recognized scholar of American art and its wider visual culture.  Her edited volume Seeing High and Low: Representing Social Conflict in American Visual Culture (University of California, 2006) examines how concepts of high and low art changed from the 18th to the 20th centuries, and how this evolution influenced the way different media within visual culture represented social conditions and contributed to social values.  Her first book, Real Fantasies: Edward Steichen's Advertising Photography (University of California, 1997), won three book awards for its study of the relationship between fine and commercial photography.  She researched early American prints and books as an American Historical Print Collector's Fellow (2001) and a Jay and Deborah Last Fellow in American visual culture (2007) at the American Antiquarian Society.  She has also held research fellowships from the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University (2000) and the National Endowment for the Humanities Research Division (1999, 2011).  Her Ph.D. is from Boston University.  In 2004 and 2005 she co-directed NEH Landmarks of American History projects based on the maritime history of Salem, Massachusetts (; in 2006 she directed the NEH summer institute The Visual Culture of Colonial New England (; and in 2009 and 2010 she directed the NEH summer institute Picturing Early America: People, Places, and Events, 1770-1870 ( November 2010, she organized a conference, supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art (, which is the basis for her forthcoming book Global Trade and Visual Arts in Federal New England, edited with Caroline Frank (University Press of New England, 2014).


  • 19th Century Art
  • 20th Century Art
  • History of Photography
  • Survey of American Art
  • Art in the Modern World, 1780-1940
  • Curatorial Seminar - Art in Early America
  • Contemporary Art, 1940 - Present

Visual Arts course descriptions in the Holy Cross College Catalog>