Jessica Maxwell

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
2013-2014
Jessica Maxwell

Jessica Maxwell earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University in 2013. Her monographic dissertation, "Heterogeneous Objects: The Sculptures of Martin Puryear," explores the central analogy between subject-making and object-making in Puryear's studio work. Connecting fashionings of self with sculpture in Puryear, her study argues that Puryear uses pre-industrial materials and a mix of Western and non-Western sources to construct single yet formally complex sculptures that double metaphorically as culturally hybrid selves. Ultimately, Maxwell sees such artists as Puryear as key model makers who demonstrate that the term "African American" is not a biological marker of sameness across persons but rather a descriptor of the hybrid condition that so named persons variously occupy. Maxwell has completed internships at a number of art institutions, including the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, and the Princeton University Art Museum. As a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art Department at Berkeley, Maxwell will teach courses on modern and contemporary sculpture and African American art.