Carol McCusker, PhD
Carol McCusker is Curator of Photography at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) in San Diego. She received her B.F.A. in studio art and art history at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, graduating with distinction. She then received her M.A. and Ph.D. in art history with an emphasis on the history of photography and film at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque. The history of photography was introduced into UNM's art department by Beaumont Newhall. While there, McCusker received numerous awards including the Beaumont Newhall Award, the Dean's Dissertation Fellowship Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Internship Award. Her Master's thesis, Unpacking His Library: Literature in the Photographs of Clarence John Laughlin became the exhibition, No Place of Grace, at UNM's Art Gallery and won her the Friends of Photography Prize.
After completing her Ph.D., MoPA became McCusker's first full-time curatorial appointment. Since her arrival in 2001, she has overseen or curated more than forty exhibitions. Those curated by McCusker include American Noir: The Photographs of James Fee (2003), The Discerning Eye: Southern California Collects (2003), Paris: A Century in the City of Light (2004), Andrea Modica: Treadwell/Fountain (2005), The Roads Most Traveled: Migration Photographs by Don Bartletti (2006), Rebels & Revelers: Experimental Decades 1970s-1980s and Public Privacy: Wendy Richmond's Surreptitious Cellphone (both 2007). With founding MoPA director, Arthur Ollman and Michael Gray, director of Lacock Abbey (estate of the British inventor of photography, William Henry Fox Talbot), she created the catalog/exhibition, First Photographs: William Henry Fox Talbot and The Birth of Photography (2003). Her most recent exhibition with catalog was Breaking the Frame: Pioneering Women in Photojournalism (2006). It explored women working in the mass media before and during WWII, and was bracketed by three exhibitions that enhanced its thesis, Shooting in 35: The First 35mm Photographs, Animating the World: The First Newsreels, and Today's Pioneers: Two Women Photojournalists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Breaking the Frame was voted #2 Exhibition-of-the-Year by the San Diego Union Tribune.
McCusker has worked with publisher Manfred Heiting on Paul Outerbridge (Taschen 1999) and been the contributing essayist to Terry Falke: Observations in an Occupied Wilderness(Chronicle, 2006), Phil Stern: A Life's Work (powerHouse, 2002), James Fee: Peleliu Project (Seraphin, 2002), and Three Visions of Peru (Throckmorton, 2002). Such diverse curating and writing on photography reveal McCusker's enthusiasm for photography's range and relevancy, from its earliest manifestations as a seemingly objective record to contemporary themes that challenge our way of seeing.
Along with her on-going curatorial responsibilities, McCusker is currently
Adjunct Professor at the University of San Diego; she is a member of the Advisory
Committee, UCSD Arts, Humanities & Languages Extension, and is working on a
book, Shooting Stars: War Photographers in Hollywood, that examines the
aesthetic and sociopolitical symbiosis between 1940s photojournalism and