Dr. Amalia Mesa-Bains was the director of the Department of Visual and Public Art for its first eight
years. In that role she helped to develop the case-based curriculum, the community partnership projects, and the museum studies/arts education concentration. Dr. Mesa- Bains is an independent artist and cultural critic. Her works, primarily interpretations of traditional Chicano altars, resonate both in contemporary formal terms and in their ties to her community and history. As an author of
scholarly articles and a nationally known lecturer on Latino art, she has enhanced understanding of multiculturalism and reflected major cultural and demographic shifts in the United States.
She holds a BA in painting from San Jose State University, an MA in interdisciplinary education from San Francisco State University, and an MA and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the School of Clinical Psychology, Wright Institute in Berkeley. She also has written extensively on Chicano art and culture. Among her many awards is a 1992 Distinguished MacArthur Fellowship. She has been an advisor to a number of national education projects in community arts including the Community Arts Research and Convening, the Crafting A Vision project of the California College of Art and the Masters in Community Arts at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Dr. Mesa-Bains continues to play an active role in the VPA program as a mentor and grants writer.