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Bridget R. Cooks is a scholar and curator of American art. Her research focuses on visual art by African Americans, Black visual culture, and museum criticism. She serves as Chancellor’s Fellow and Professor of African American Studies and Art History at the University of California, Irvine. She is core faculty in the PhD Programs in Visual Studies and Culture and Theory. Her books, articles, and essays can be found widely across interdisciplinary academic publications and art exhibition catalogues. She is most well-known as the author of the book, Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum (UMass, 2011) which received the inaugural James A. Porter & David C. Driskell Book Award in African American Art History.
Cooks’ first career was in museum education. In this capacity she worked at the Oakland Museum of California, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Cooks has curated several exhibitions including, Grafton Tyler Brown: Exploring California, (2018) at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Ernie Barnes: A Retrospective at the California African American Museum (2019) (CAAM), The Black Index (four venue national tour), Dissolve (Langson IMCA, University Art Gallery, UC Irvine) and Lava Thomas: Homecoming (2022) at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.
She has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships from organizations including the Ford Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, Getty Research Institute, and California Humanities.
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