Jessica Patterson, PhD
Assistant Professor, Art History
Jessica Patterson, PhD, combines interests in Asian languages and comparative religion with training in the history and theory of art. Her research focuses on the art and architecture of East and Southeast Asia, emphasizing the cultural collisions and intersections that characterized the nineteenth century.
PhD, University of California, Berkeley, History of Art
MA, University of California, Berkeley, History of Art
BA, Reed College, Religion/Chinese
Scholarly and Creative Work
Most of Patterson's field research takes place in Thailand. She has been studying the impact of the Chinese diaspora on the design and decoration of Buddhist temples in Bangkok, the topic of her current book project. She has previously published articles about the Buddha's footprint at Saraburi and the Thai temple in Berkeley, California. Patterson's work navigates the complex and contested spaces where art and religion intersect. She is particularly interested in how the structure and use of such spaces are conditioned by cultural difference, such as encounters between Thai and Chinese, elites and commoners, or tradition and modernity.
Patterson strives to develop courses that will encourage students to engage with the arts of Asia from a fresh and innovative perspective. She has recently taught classes that examined controversies within Buddhist art, compared depictions of Buddhist cosmology, and explored the possibilities of examining classical Chinese painting through the lens of twentieth-century theory. By considering elements of visual and material culture in addition to canonical works of art, students have the opportunity to transcend stereotyped discourses and think critically about the ways objects and images have figured in history.