Christina Spiker

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My name is Christina Spiker and I am a scholar of modern and contemporary Japanese art and visual culture. I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. I received my Ph.D. in Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine under the direction of Professor Bert Winther-Tamaki. I hold an M.A. in Visual Studies from UC Irvine and a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Ursinus College.

My work is largely concerned with the histories and theories of globalization, modernity, and travel in modern and contemporary Japanese art and visual culture. I am especially interested in the many ways that American and Japanese culture converge in the visual arts in the Meiji period (1868-1912), a time when Japan was undergoing rapid change in an effort to modernize the nation. Representations of race are a key element that I explore in my research. In my doctoral dissertation, I investigated the visual encounters between the indigenous Ainu in northern Japan and Euro-American/Japanese tourists, artists, and anthropologists at the turn-of-the-twentieth century. This project pays close attention to the reproduction and circulation visual culture in media such as postcards, illustrations, and newspapers and how they worked together to solidify an indigenous stereotype. It also marks the beginning of my fascination with the image’s complicated relationship to text.

Recently, I have become interested in expanding my research to include more contemporary media, such as animation and video games. This vein of my work is heavily motivated by my work in the classroom with art history students at UC Irvine, St. Olaf College, and St. Catherine University. I seek to bring an art historian’s toolkit to the analysis and interpretation of visual representation in gaming, especially with regards to gender and issues of race.

This photograph was taken in Moerenuma koen, a park designed by artist Isamu Noguchi in Sapporo, Hokkaido.