History of Art and Architecture

Ellen Larson


Ellen Larson is a PhD candidate, specializing in contemporary video art from China. Before joining Pitt, she earned a Chinese MA degree as a Chinese Government scholar focusing her studies on Modern Chinese History. Her second MA thesis, completed in 2018, “Cao Fei’s Nostalgia for the Future,” focused on the acclaimed artist’s presentation of space and environment, contemplating the legacy of utopianism and ongoing constructions of national and post-socialist identities. Her current dissertation project investigates domestic temporalities within the history of contemporary moving image art from China. Her methodological approach to the study of art history includes curation and design as forms of applied practice. Ellen has worked as a research assistant for Cao Fei, and her research contributions were included in the artist’s solo exhibitions staged in London and Paris. She was also an assistant editor of the publication Cao Fei: HX, published in 2020 by the Serpentine Galleries in London. Ellen curates and presents exhibitions, educational symposia, and other art events in China and the United States.

Education Details

PhD, History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, in progress

MA, History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, 2018 

MA, Modern Chinese History, Minzu University of China, 2016

BA, Art and Art History, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 2012

Selected Publications

“Cao Fei’s Nostalgia for the Future,” Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Intellect Journals (forthcoming).

“The Map and the Territory” in Carnegie International, 57th Edition: The Dispatch, ed. Ingrid Schaeffner. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum of Art, 2019.

Review of “Zhang Peili: Record. Repeat.,” Contemporaneity: 2017 Volume 6, No. 1, 104-108. 

Review of “Curating Research,” LEAP: International Art Magazine of Contemporary China: 2015 Issue 32, 60. 

“Lin Yan: Interview with the Artist,” Lin Yan Exhibition Catalogue, Kwai Fung Hin Gallery, Hong Kong, China, 2015

“The Art of Rewriting China,” co-authored by Dr. Cortney Chaffin, Xu Bing and the Art of Rewriting China Exhibition Catalogue, Carlsten Gallery of Art, UW-Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI, 2012 

Translation (Chinese to English) 

Ye Funa: Nailhenge (exhibition catalogue), Space Station, Beijing, China, 2016

Artificial Fairyland (exhibition catalogue), Suzhou Jinji Lake Museum, Suzhou, China, 2016

Shang Chengxiang: Threshold (exhibition catalogue), Space Station, Beijing, China, 2015

Selected Awards

Fulbright Fellowship to China (cancelled due to COVID-19), 2020-2021

Getty Foundation Dissertation Workshop Awardee (postponed due to COVID-19), 2020

Humanities Center Summer Research Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 2020

Marstine Prize for Excellence in the Public Humanities, University of Pittsburgh, 2020

Chancellors Graduate Fellowship in Chinese Studies, University of Pittsburgh, 2019, 2016

Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Foundation Predissertation Travel Grant, 2019

Marstine Prize for Excellence in the Public Humanities, University of Pittsburgh (with Becca Giordano, Paula Kupfer, Ellen Larson and Katie Loney), 2019

Asia Studies Center Summer Language Scholarship, University of Pittsburgh, 2018

Dean’s Summer Research Grant, University of Pittsburgh, 2018

John H. Tsui Memorial Scholarship, University of Pittsburgh, 2017

Dean's Travel Grant, University of Pittsburgh Fall 2016

China-US Young Leaders Summit Award, Fudan University of China, 2014

Chinese Government Scholarship, Minzu University of China, 2013-2016 

Curated Exhibition and Symposia

Materializing Memory: Contemporary Video Art from China, University of Pittsburgh University Art Gallery, 2019  

Mapping Mobility: Chinese Objects from the UAG Collection, University of Pittsburgh University Art Gallery, 2019  

Dig Where You Stand, Curatorial Think Piece by Koyo Kouoh, 57th Carnegie International, 2018

Dance Aria: Ju Anqi Solo Exhibition, Being Three Gallery, Beijing, 2017

Intermediary: Video Art from China, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Carlsten Art Gallery, 2017

Chinese Apartment Art: Primary Documents from the Gao Minglu Archive, University of Pittsburgh University Art Gallery, 2017

Overwhelming Imagination: Achieving and Undermining Contradictions International Art Conference, Si Shang Art Museum, Beijing, 2016

Selected Conferences and Programs

Virtual Presentation, “Contemporary Chinese Art: From Beijing and Beyond,” The Dunhuang Foundation, 2020

Conference presentation, “Finding the Area of Nostalgia: Cao Fei’s Hongxia Project,” 12th Annual Conference: Urban Transformations and Contemporary Art in China, Centre for Chinese Visual Arts, Birmingham City University, in collaboration with Tate Liverpool, Tate Liverpool, 2019

Conference presentation, “Cao Fei’s Nostalgia for the Future,” 2019 Festival of the Arts – 16th Annual Art History Symposium: In and Out of Time: Global Perspectives on Time in Art History, Sacramento State, Sacramento, CA, 2019

Panel moderator, “The Arts Alive: Identity & New Media in Contemporary Chinese Art,” Bookworm Literary Festival, Beijing, China, 2016

Presentation, “The Stars and their Legacy in the Developments of Early Contemporary Chinese Art,” i:Project Space Art Salon, Beijing, China, 2015

Panel moderator, “The Female Voice in Contemporary Chinese Art,” Bookworm Literary Festival, Beijing, China, 2015