Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Art, Art History, and Design
Candace Keller


keller.jpgAssociate Professor, African Art
Art History & Visual Culture
324 Kresge Art Center
P 517-353-1599


Candace Keller earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of the History of Art at Indiana University, where she majored in African art and minored in African Studies and African American art. Her work is driven by a commitment to intellectual and cultural diversity. She strives to bring African cultural practices and theoretical perspectives to the conceptual awareness of global audiences, emphasizing their critical value within our increasingly interconnected, transcultural world. With a specific focus on vernacular art and photography, her work centers on the power of representation. She investigates the ways in which cultural knowledge and markers of social identity are constructed, perpetuated, and contested via visual language systems. In this vein, she considers how individuals—artists, patrons, and audiences—ascribe meaning to images as they traverse cultural contexts, cultivating a sense of social belonging, individuality, or exclusivity, to appreciate how local means of visual expression can have far reaching significance for global citizens. Her research and courses center on issues of identity, personhood, and complex agency, as well as processes of transculturation, globalization, nationalism, and postcolonialism.

Since 2008, Dr. Keller has held a joint appointment as Assistant Professor of African art in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. She is core faculty in the African Studies Center, Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities, and African and African American Studies. Her research on the histories of photography in Mali, West Africa, has appeared in several publications, invited lectures, and conference presentations and has been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the British Library, Fulbright-Hays, Indiana University, and Michigan State University.


"Framed and Hidden Histories: West African Photography from Local to Global Contexts."

African Arts 47, 4 (Winter 2014): 36-47.

"Transculturated Displays: International Fashion and West African Portraiture." In African Dress

Encounters: Fashion, Agency, Performance, eds. Karen Tranberg Hansen and Soyini

Madison, 276-301. London: Bloomsburg Academic (Berg Press), 2013.

"Visual Griots: Identity, Aesthetics, and the Social Roles of Portrait Photographers in Mali." In

Portraiture & Photography in Africa, eds. Elisabeth Cameron and John Peffer, 363-405.

Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.

"Gologo, Mamadou El Béchir." In Dictionary of African Biography, eds. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

and Emmanuel Akyeampong. 481-483. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

"Studio Photography in Mali." In The Social Body: Malian Portraiture from the Studio to the

Street, ed. Laurel Bradley. 10-23. Northfield: Carleton College, 2012.


Regardez-moi!: Portraits by Malick Sidibé. San Diego State University Art Gallery, 2008.

Mopti à la Mode: Portrait Photographs by Tijani Sitou. Indiana University Art Museum, 2007

and MSU Residential College in the Arts and Humanities LookOut! Gallery, 2009.


HA271: African Art from Local to Global Contexts

HA471: Contemporary Art in Africa and the African Diaspora

HA491: Rethinking Aesthetics in Art and Everyday Life

RCAH203: Transcultural Relations – Art and Cultural Exchange among Africa, Europe, and the Americas

RCAH292B: Engagement and Reflection through Photovoice

RCAH292B: Engagement and Reflection through Artvoice

RCAH291: The Power of Photography

Study Abroad in Mali (offered every other summer)