Charissa N. Terranova

Associate Professor, The Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History

Charissa N. Terranova lectures and teaches seminars on modern and contemporary art and architectural history, theory, and criticism, the history of biology in art and architecture, and media and new media art and theory.

Terranova researches complex systems within art and architecture, focusing on the history of biology and biocentrism in art and architecture. She is author of Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image (2016) and Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (2014), editor of a double-issue of Technoetic Arts devoted to "Complexism" (2016), and coeditor with Meredith Tromble of The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture (2016).

Her work centers on tracing the connections between biology, art, and architecture in the diaspora of the Bauhaus in England and the U.S. after 1933.

Inaugural director and curator of Centraltrak: The UT Dallas Artists Residency, Terranova regularly curates and writes art criticism. From September 2015 to February 2016, Terranova collaborated with Davidson College Professor of Biology Dave Wessner in the SciArt Center NYC's virtual residency program. As part of the residency, Terranova and Wessner co-curated in February 2016 Gut Instinct: Art, Design, and the Microbiome, an on-line exhibition about art, the gut-brain axis, and gastrointestinal microbiome. In the fall of 2015 at Gray Matters Gallery in Dallas, Texas she curated Chirality: Defiant Mirror Images, an exhibition about art and the scientific concept of "chirality," or non-superimposable mirror images.

Terranova enjoys working with students on the history and theory of science within modern and contemporary art and new media practices. She encourages students to use their imagination in their research in these fields in order to open new modes and spaces of inquiry. My goal is to help students re-frame conventional art historical questions in terms of contemporary science-based problem solving. She also enjoys working with art students in practice and frequently does studio visits.

Before joining the faculty of the University of Texas at Dallas to launch Centraltrak, the university's artists residency program, Terranova taught modern and contemporary art and architectural history at Southern Methodist University, modern architectural history and art theory at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, architectural history and theory at the Boston Architectural College, and architectural history and theory at Harvard University.


Ph.D. in Architectural History and Theory (2004) Harvard University
M.A. in Architectural History and Theory (2001) Harvard University
M.A. in Art History (1996) University of Illinois at Chicago
B.A. in Art History (1992) University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Areas of Specialization

Modern and Contemporary Art and Architectural History, History of Biology in Art and Architecture, New Media Art History, History of Urbanism