Introducing Tyler’s Newest Faculty Members

August 24, 2021

Four award-winning, interdisciplinary artists, designers and educators join the Tyler faculty this academic year, bringing expertise in the complexities of place and production in artwork; moving image as a gateway to participatory art-making; post-colonial art historical scholarship and queer theory; and the interplay of architectural performance and human experience.

The quartet–mixed-media artist Jessica Vaughn, multimedia visual artist and filmmaker Alex Strada, art historian and critic Alpesh Kantilal Patel, and registered architect Jeff Richards–will complement the growing diversity and intersectionality in teaching and learning across Tyler’s 22 disciplines and programs.

“Our new faculty members represent a diverse range of thinking and making across art, art history, and the built environment,” said Dean Susan E. Cahan. “They will bring to our students new approaches to understanding the ways in which art and design have influenced culture, lifestyle and human understanding of our world.”

Learn more about each new faculty member below:

Jessica Vaughn, Associate Professor of Painting

Jessica Vaughn is an artist whose current work explores American labor practices through the use discarded and mass-produced materials that convey complex histories of place, production, and social interaction. She has exhibited widely in museums and galleries throughout the country. Vaughn, recipient of a 2021 Creative Capital Award, which recognizes boundary-pushing and adventurous artmaking, said that she is “looking forward to working with students and introducing them to my interdisciplinary practice and engaging with my fellow colleagues in the department, with whom I share similar interests and values in teaching. The depth of resources and what students are able to learn at Tyler are outstanding and I am eager to contribute to this. Although this is a challenging time that we all find ourselves in during the pandemic, I look to helping students grow as both artists and individuals in the program.”

Alex Strada, Assistant Professor of Photography

Alex Strada is a multimedia visual artist, filmmaker and educator whose work incorporates collaboration and transdisciplinary engagement. Her installations, films, performances and participatory works engage with history and memory, economic redistribution, collectivity and political imagination. Her student-focused pedagogy is informed by feminist and decolonial theories and tactics. Strada has shown her work nationally and internationally while prioritizing public and accessible spaces, such as outdoor sculpture parks. Her work appeared on the screens of Times Square with Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment in 2018. Strada, who is a 2021-22 “Year of Uncertainty” Artist-in-Residence at the Queens Museum, said she is “excited to work with Tyler students as they hone their artistic skills and interests to think holistically about what they have access to within the broader research university. I share Tyler's commitment to experimental and student-focused public art education that is fundamentally egalitarian and linked to social, historical, political, and ethical questions. As a transdisciplinary artist with a background in lens-based media, I hope to work broadly across Tyler to create connections between photography and other departments, including sculpture and Community Arts Practices.”

Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Associate Professor of Art History

Alpesh Kantilal Patel’s art historical scholarship, curating, and criticism reflect his queer, anti-racist and transnational approach to contemporary art. He has published widely and organized exhibitions in the United States and internationally. Most recently, he co-edited with Chika Okeke-Aglu and Jane Chin Davidson a special issue of the journal Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (2021) commemorating Okwui Enwezor (1963–2019). His forthcoming book, Storytellers of Art Histories, co-edited with Yasmeen Siddiqui (January 2022, Intellect), brings together first-person narratives of an intergenerational group of art historians, curators, artists, and archivists, who are shaping how contemporary art history is written. Patel, who has received numerous honors, including a Fulbright grant to advance his scholarship in Poznań, Poland, said he was humbled to be joining Tyler’s many accomplished faculty and looking forward to the intersectionality of teaching at Tyler. “Rather than keep studio and art history students at arm's length as is typical at most places, Tyler has brought them together under one roof,” said Patel. “I can only imagine how generative this has been for students and how it will be for me, too.”

Jeff Richards, Assistant Professor of Instruction in Architecture

As a registered architect who has previously worked at the firms Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Jeff Richards explores the potential of architectonic components such as material, structure and building envelope to both reinforce and transform conceptual approach. His teaching and practice examine the relationship between building performance and human experience for the purpose of grounding a building in the identity of its particular people and place. “The multidisciplinary environment that the Tyler School of Art and Architecture offers is essential in developing thinkers that can create work that is both uniquely responsive to the challenges of our time, while also being appropriately situated in our multivalent culture,” said Richards. “I look forward to joining a community of students, academics and practitioners that places such a profound emphasis on the civic responsibility of the designer. This responsibility served as a foundational principle of modern architecture, and it is my belief that its aspiration should guide pedagogical approach in a physical world increasingly beset by the dissipation of a digital age.”