History of Art and Architecture

Janina Sofía López


Janina López studies public art of the Chicano Movement with a focus on murals made in California’s Central Valley. Her dissertation research embeds three Chicano murals made between 1968 and 1977 within an extended narrative of activist, revolutionary artistic interventions on civic architecture. This research builds upon her MA thesis about the Royal Chicano Air Force, an artist collective based in Sacramento, CA, and active from 1969 to the present. This thesis centers on the 1977 Southside Park Mural and understands the Royal Chicano Air Force’s use of public space as a visual argument of Chicano presence in Northern California. More broadly, Janina’s research interests include the relationship between the built environment, urban planning, and public memory; public art and cultural nationalism; carceral aesthetics of the built environment at the US-Mexico border; performance and installation at/on the US-Mexico border; and collaborative and collective artist practices. Her work builds on abolitionist theory and pedagogy, critical phenomenology, borderlands theory, and queer theory.

Janina embraces an interdisciplinary approach to art history and pedagogy. She frequently works within the Kinloch Commons and the School of Education; she has taught and lectured about Paolo Freire, Abdias do Nascimento, and bell hooks, and has led syllabus workshops for faculty and graduate students. For AY22-23 Janina has a graduate appointment in the University Art Gallery, where she supervises undergraduate internships, develops public programming, and leads gallery-based workshops for art history and museum studies classes. Previously, Janina has worked with the Philadelphia-based Monument Lab to aid in the development of a database of US-Mexico border monuments. Janina earned her undergraduate degree from California State University Sacramento, where she worked extensively with the university’s art collection and taught supplemental art history courses through the university’s Peer and Academic Resource Center.

Education Details

PhD, University of Pittsburgh, History of Art and Architecture, in progress 
MA, University of Pittsburgh, History of Art and Architecture, 2022 

Thesis: “Royal Chicano Air Force’s
Southside Park Mural, 1977: A Civic Projection of Evolving Chicano Identity” 
BA, California State University of Sacramento, Art History, 2019 

Thesis: “The Feminist Re-Presentation of Women: Imaging the Transition Across Three Centuries of the United States”

Selected Awards

Ailsa Mellon Bruce Predoctoral Fellowship for Historians of American Art to Travel Abroad, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, 2022 
K. Leroy Irvis Diversity Fellowship, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 2020-2021 

Humanities Engage Summer Research Immersive Fellowship, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 2020 

Hot Metal Bridge Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, 2019-20