Light & Verity

New dean for School of Art

Kymberly Pinder '95PhD is an art historian and administrator.

Photo: Eve Caughey; artwork in background by Jami Porter Lara.

Photo: Eve Caughey; artwork in background by Jami Porter Lara.

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Kymberly Pinder ’95PhD, who becomes the dean of the School of Art on July 1, got her start in art history; she studied medieval and American art and TAed for Vincent Scully ’40, ’49PhD, while working on her doctorate at Yale. But Pinder has spent much of her career in academia with the people who make the art. She comes to the job from a stint as acting president of MassArt, a freestanding art college in Boston, where she was previously provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. Before that, she was dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico.

Pinder, the first woman of color to serve as Yale’s art school dean, has concentrated on African American visual culture in her own scholarship. In 2002, she edited an influential collection of essays called Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race and Art History. Her most recent book, in 2016, was Painting the Gospel: Black Public Art and Religion in Chicago.

Pinder says she was attracted to the deanship because Yale’s prestige affords the opportunity to experiment: with curriculum, admissions practices, and collaborations, for instance. “When you’re a leader, you don’t have this hesitancy or fear of doing different things,” she says, “because you already have a base of solid support.”

Although there was little interaction between the art history program and the School of Art when she was a student, Pinder says she made connections with the school through friends. She is encouraged by the greater spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration that exists today. “I can’t wait to be a linchpin for that,” she says.   

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