Asma Naeem is an art historian and curator of prints, drawings and media arts at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. In 2016, She curated the Portrait Gallery’s first all-media arts show on video art pioneer, Bill Viola. Upcoming exhibitions include a show on silhouettes, tentatively titled “Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now,” and a retrospective of Los Angeles-based artist Don Bachardy.
Specializing in American and Contemporary Islamic art, Naeem is particular interested in the effects of displacement, the history of technology, and the sensorial imagination of both artist and beholder. She holds a B.A. in art history and political science from Johns Hopkins University, a J.D. from Temple University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Before returning to art history, she practiced law as a prosecutor in Manhattan and Washington, D.C.
She has delivered papers at numerous conferences such as the College Art Association, American Studies Association, and the Southeastern College Art Conference, and has been invited to speak at the Courtauld Institute, University of Minnesota, and Columbia University. At the 2010 College Art Association conference, she co-chaired a session titled, “Sounding American Art: Patterns and Possibilities.”
Based on her dissertation, her recent manuscript, “Picturing Aural Imaginaries: Sound, Listening, and Technology in American Art, 1847-1897,” urges scholars to think in new and more expansive ways about relations among the visual arts, sound technologies, and the senses of sight and sound.
Naeem has taught an array of courses, including Modern European Art, American Art from the Civil War to the Present, and Contemporary Islamic Art. The latter has led to her current project, tentatively titled, “Leaving Yourself Behind: The Partition of India and its Aftermath in American Art, 1947 – 2007.” Based on this research, she has a forthcoming article on the transcultural mobilities of Margaret Bourke-White and Zarina that will be appearing in the 30th anniversary issue of American Art in 2017.