Art and Visual Culture Faculty and Staff

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Administrative Staff

Academic Advisor

Graduate Coordinator



Associate Professor

April Eisman

Associate Professor, Art and Visual Culture (Contemporary Art History)

Mailing Address

Art and Visual Culture Department
158 College of Design
Ames, IA, 50011

Contact Information

Phone: (515) 294-8513
Office: 383 Design


PhD, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
MA, History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London
BA, English & Art History, Lawrence University

Research Interests

Contemporary art and theory
     East German (GDR) painting and reception
     Post-colonialism, post-socialism, feminism, and Marxism

*** ON SABBATICAL FOR 2016-17 ***

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (press)
Amer. Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowship, AAUW (press)
Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities
Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies
German Academic Exchange Service / DAAD
Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship
Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowship
Arts and Sciences Fellowship, Pittsburgh University


"From Double Burden to Double Vision: The Doppelgaenger in Doris Ziegler's Paintings of Women in East Germany," in The Doppelgaenger (German Visual Culture 3), ed. Deborah Ascher Barnstone (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2016) 45-66

"East German Art and the Permeability of the Berlin Wall," in German Studies Review, 38.3 (2015): 597-616 (toc)

"From Economic Equality to 'Mommy Politics': Women Artists and the Challenges of Gender in East German Painting," in International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2014, 175-203 (pdf)

“Heidrun Hegewald and the Cold War Politics of the Family in East German Painting,” in Elize Bisanz and Marlene Heidel, eds. Bildgespenster. Künstlerische Archive aus der DDR und ihre Rolle heute (Bielefeld, Germany: Transcript Verlag, 2014) 205-229

"Painting the East German Experience: Neo Rauch in the Late 1990s," in Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 35, Issue 2, 2012, 233-250 (pdf)

"Denying Difference in the Post-Socialist Other: Bernhard Heisig and the Changing Reception of an East German Artist," in Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture, Vol. 2, 2012, 45-73 (pdf)

"In the Crucible: Bernhard Heisig and the Hotel Deutschland Murals," in Amy Wlodarski and Elaine Kelly, eds., Art Outside the Lines: New Perspectives on GDR Art Culture. (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2011) 21-39 (docs)

"In Memoriam - Bernhard Heisig (1925-2011)," German Studies Association Newsletter, Vol. 36/2, 2011, 97-100 (docs)

"Painting the Berlin Wall in Leipzig: The Politics of Art in 1960s East Germany," in Sabine Hake and Philip Broadbent, eds., Berlin. Divided City, 1949-1989. (New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010) 83-9 (googlebooks)(docs - galley version)

Review of the 2009 LACMA exhibition catalog, Art of Two Germanys / Cold War Cultures. Published in German History 27(4) 2009, 628-630 (docs)

“Playing with the Political: Feng Mengbo’s Streetfighter IV,” Yishu, Journal for Contemporary Chinese Art, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring 2006, 101-7 (docs)

“The Media of Manipulation: Mainstream News in the U.S. in the Weeks Following 9/11” Critical Quarterly, Spring/Summer 2003, vol. 45, issue 1/2, pp. 55-72

"Heisigs Geisterbahn," in Ruediger Kuettner, ed. Bernhard Heisig, Eine unendliche Geschichte. (Berlin: Galerie Berlin, 2010) 126-7

“Eine ‘US-Amerikanische’ Sicht auf Bernhard Heisig,” Gestern und in dieser Zeit – Bernhard Heisig zum Achzigsten. (Leipzig: Faber & Faber, 2005) 42-5

New Perspectives on East Germany. University of Wisconsin, Madison - Center for German & European Studies (Apr 2016)
Paper: "Whose East German Art Is This?"

German Studies Association, Washington, DC (Oct 2015)
Seminar Paper: "Painting in East Germany: An Elite Art for the Everyday (and Everyone)"

Reassessing East German Art: 25 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa (Sept 2014)
Paper: "Challenging the 'Staatskünstler'-Dissident Divide: Angela Hampel as Painter and Installation Artist"

Capturing Aesthetics in Everyday Life: Towards a Historiography of Cultural Sensibility in Divided Germany. King's College, London, England (June 2014)
Paper: "From Didacticism to the Dialogical: Painting for the People in East Germany"

Modernity, Socialism, and the Visual Arts. A Six-Day Ship Conference. Germany: Berlin, Beeskow, Eisenhuettenstadt, Frankfurt Oder (Oct 2013)
Paper: "Angela Hampel and the Contradictions of 'Equality' in a Communist State (East Germany)"

Reality(ies), Fiction and Utopia in the Art of France, West Germany, East Germany and Poland Between 1960 and 1989, Paris, France (April 2013)
Paper: "When Fiction Changes Reality: Angela Hampel and the Impact of Christa Wolf's Kassandra on Women Artists in East Germany"

Die andere Moderne? - Bildwelten in der DDR - Perspektiven einer Neubewertung, Weimar, Germany (Oct 2012)
Paper: "Where Have All the Women Gone? The Western Reception of East German Art"

German Studies Between the Global and the Local, Berlin Program Summer Workshop, Berlin, Germany (June 2012) 
Paper: "Reinventing Leipzig for a Neoliberal World"

German Studies Association, Louisville, KY (Sept 2011)
Paper: "Rewriting the East German Past: The Contemporary Reception of Heisig and Rauch"
Panel organizer & moderator: "A Multidisciplinary Look at the Future of German Studies"

German Studies Association, Oakland, CA (Oct 2010)
Commentary: "The Visual Arts in Cold War Germany and Beyond"
Commentary: "Space and Place in Modern and Contemporary German Art"

College Art Association, Chicago, IL (Feb 2010)
Paper: "Painting the Wall in East Germany"

The Fall of the Wall Reconsidered. Progress and Perspectives Twenty Years After the Wende, Northwestern University & Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, Evanston, IL (Oct 2009)
Paper: “The Post-Wall Reception of East German Painting: Bernhard Heisig as Case Study”

German Studies Association, Arlington, VA (Oct 2009)
Paper: "Bernhard Heisig: Painting Fascism, Past and Present"
Commentary: "Between Compulsion and Persuasion: Cultural Authority in the GDR"

Latin American Studies Association, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (June 2009)
Paper: "East German Artists Respond to the 1973 Putsch in Chile" (presented in absentia)

College Art Association, Los Angeles, CA (Feb 2009) 
Paper: “Bernhard Heisig and the Fight for Modern Art in East Germany”

Writing East German History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (Dec 2008)
Paper: “Challenges in Writing About East German Art: The Case of Bernhard Heisig”

German Art & Culture After 1933, Iowa State University, Ames, IA (Oct 2008)
Paper: “Neo Rauch: A Contemporary Painter in Context”

German Studies Association, St. Paul, MN (Oct 2008)
Commentary: “Post-Wende Exhibitions and Evaluations of GDR Art”

Berlin, Divided City, University of Texas, Austin, Austin, TX (Mar 2008)
Paper: “Picturing the Berlin Wall in 1960s East Germany”

Reconsidering the Role of the Arts in the GDR, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA (Oct 2007)
Paper: “In the Crucible: Bernhard Heisig and the Hotel ‘Deutschland’ Murals”

Co-organizer (with Sonja Klocke) of the "GDR and Socialisms Network" (German Studies Association, 2018-21)

Co-organizer (with Ben Robinson & Eli Rubin) of the "German Socialisms Network" (German Studies Association, 2014-16)

Co-organizer of the Berlin Program Summer Workshop (Freie Universitaet Berlin, 2013-15):
     - 2015, Violence, Oppression, and Civil Disobedience
     - 2014, Virtual Germans
     - 2013, Germany Looks East

Co-founder and organizer of the Transatlantic Institute for East German Art (since 2011) - TIEGA website (currently under construction)


Current Projects

A Field of Friction: Bernhard Heisig and the Fight for Modern Art in East Germany (completed)

Angela Hampel: A Contemporary Artist in East Germany

Women Painters in East Germany (snappier title TBD...)

Art H 280: History of Art I

Art H 388: Modern Art & Theory to 1945
Art H 395: Art & Theory After 1945

Art H 498: Art & Dictatorships
Art H 498: Art of Communist East Germany
Art H 498: Art of the Americas Before Columbus

Art H 501: Issues in Visual & Material Culture (grad theory)
Art H 595: Contemporary Art (graduate seminar)
Art H 598: The Art World After 1989 (graduate seminar)