Cathleen Cummings

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ART HISTORY

cathleen@uab.edu          Office // AEIVA 231          205.934.7909

M.A., Ph.D., The Ohio State University

Areas of Specialization:  South Asian art history, especially Hindu temple architecture.  Cummings teaches art history from all regions of Asia, from the Neolithic through contemporary periods.

I am a specialist in South Asian art, particularly in the areas of Hindu temple architecture and Indian miniature painting. I received my doctorate in art history from The Ohio State University, specializing in the art of South Asia, with minors in Islamic and Himalayan Buddhist art. My book, Decoding A Hindu Temple: Royalty and Religion in the Iconographic Program of the Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal, was published in 2014 by the South Asian Studies Association. I have also published on Buddhist paintings of Tibet and Nepal, early modern painting in India, and Hindu architecture associated with death and cremation. I have curated exhibitions for the Peabody-Essex Museum in Massachusetts as well as for the Birmingham Museum of Art and for UAB’s AEIVA galleries. 

While my research specialty is South Asia, I teach comprehensively across all areas of Asia, regularly offering courses in South Asian, Chinese, and Japanese art, with special topics courses on the Himalayan Islamic, and Modern Asian art and architecture. I teach extremely broadly in terms of time periods – from Neolithic South and East Asia through to the contemporary period. 

I have overseen MA theses in a range of topics in Asian art – from Japan’s Superflat movement, to Indonesian kris holders, to Thai Buddhist tattooing, to representations of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara at the Mogao caves, China. My work is deeply contextualized within the study of religion, and Indic culture, history, and society more broadly. In my teaching I encourage this approach as a way to understand the context, style, function, and role of a monument or object.