Kobena Mercer writes and teaches on the visual arts of the black diaspora, examining African American, Caribbean, and Black British artists in modern and contemporary art. His courses and research address cross-cultural aesthetics in transnational contexts where issues of race, sexuality, and identity converge.
His first book, Welcome to the Jungle (1994), introduced new lines of inquiry in art, photography, and film, and his work features in several interdisciplinary anthologies including Art and Its Histories (1998), The Visual Culture Reader (2001) and Theorizing Diaspora (2003). Mercer is the author of monographic studies on Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Isaac Julien, Renee Green, and Keith Piper, as well as historical studies of James VanDer Zee, Romare Bearden, and Adrian Piper. He is the editor of the Annotating Art’s Histories series, published by MIT and INIVA, whose titles are Cosmopolitan Modernisms (2005), Discrepant Abstraction (2006), Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures (2007), and Exiles, Diasporas & Strangers (2008).
Newly appointed to the Departments of the History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University, Mercer previously taught at New York University and University of California at Santa Cruz. An inaugural recipient of the 2006 Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts Writing awarded by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Massachussetts, he is currently working on an essay collection, Travel & See: Writings on Black Diaspora Art, and will contribute a chapter to The Image of the Black in Western Art: Volume V, The Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press). Professor Mercer is currently serving on the LGBT Studies Committee at Yale University.