History of Art and Architecture

Janina Sofía López


Janina López studies contemporary Latinx art with a focus on public art and the Chicano Movement. Her dissertation, “The Royal Chicano Air Force’s Comuniversidad: Public Art and Education in Northern California since 1969,” examines the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF), an artist collective based in California’s capital, Sacramento. Organized around murals and silkscreens, the dissertation interrogates the RCAF’s critical pedagogy and role as artist-educators within a rapidly changing educational landscape of Northern California in the 1970s. This builds on Janina’s MA thesis about the 1977 Southside Park Mural which understands the Royal Chicano Air Force’s use of public space and civic architecture as a visual argument of Chicano presence. More broadly, Janina’s research interests include the built environment and public memory; carceral aesthetics of the built environment at the US-Mexico border; performance and installation at/on the US-Mexico border; collaborative and collective artist practices; discipline and subfield development and historiography; interdisciplinary methods and methodology.

Janina embraces an interdisciplinary approach to art history and pedagogy. Beyond HAA, Janina has previously worked on projects about pedagogy and abolition with Pitt’s Kinloch Commons, the School of Education, and Pitt’s Center for Urban Education. In AY22-23 Janina held a graduate appointment in the University Art Gallery, where she supervised undergraduate internships, developed public programming, contributed to curatorial projects, and led 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 


Selected Awards

Humanities Center Graduate Summer Research Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh, 2024

Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, 2023-2024

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