Bookmark and Share

Department of

Art, Architecture + Art History

Carol McCusker, PhD

Visiting Professor, Art History

Carol McCusker, PhD, curated more than thirty exhibitions in her eight years as Curator of Photography at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. These include "First Photographs: William Henry Fox Talbot" and "The Birth of Photography, American Noir: The Photographs of James Fee", "The Roads Most Traveled: Migration Photographs by Don Bartletti," and "Public Privacy: Wendy Richmond’s Surreptitious Cellphone." Such diverse curating, from the first photographs to cameraphone technology, reveals McCusker’s enthusiasm for photography’s range, from its earliest manifestations as a seemingly objective record to contemporary themes that expand our understanding the complex world around us.


PhD, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Art History (emphasis on the history of photography and film)
MA, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Art History
BFA, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston;  Studio Art and Art History

Scholarly and Creative Work

McCusker is co-author of Paul Outerbridge (Taschen, 1999) and contributing essayist to Terry Falke: Observations in an Occupied Wilderness (Chronicle, 2006), Phil Stern: A Life's Work (powerHouse, 2002), James Fee: Peleliu Project (Seraphin, 2002), and Three Visions of Peru (Throckmorton, 2002). With MoPA director, Arthur Ollman, McCusker created the catalog and exhibition, "First Photographs: William Henry Fox Talbot and The Birth of Photography," the only time Talbot’s photographs were exhibited in a solo show in the U.S.  Her exhibition and catalog, "Breaking the Frame: Pioneering Women in Photojournalism," explored women working in the mass media before and during WWII, and was bracketed by three exhibitions that enhanced its thesis, "Shooting in 35: The First 35mm Photographs," "Animating the World: The First Newsreels," and "Today’s Pioneers: Two Women Photojournalists in Iraq and Afghanistan." "Breaking the Frame" was voted #2 Exhibition-of-the-Year by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Teaching Interests

McCusker’s teaching interests explore the aesthetic and social implications of photography, from the 19th to the 21st century, within fine art practices and popular culture. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy once wrote, “The illiterate of the future will be those ignorant of the use of the camera as well as the pen.” Since images have largely replaced words in our understanding of the world, learning to “read” them is imperative. McCusker places the study of photography within a historical trajectory that enlivens its antecedents, considers the means of its production, and explores its changing meaning and relevance.