Melissa Ragain is an assistant professor of art history at Montana State University, in Bozeman. Her areas of interest include modern and contemporary art, intellectual and institutional histories, and the relationship forged between aesthetic and scientific thought. Her current work focuses on the role of environmental thinking on post-formalist art movements of the 1960s.
While at the Radcliffe Institute, Ragain is completing a manuscript, “Formalism and Environmental Aesthetics after World War II,” that focuses on Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a hub of environmental thought between 1947 and 1975. It will seek to understand the role of visual studies programs in generating and disseminating a viable alternative language to formalist description. These programs were developed amid new understandings of environmental endangerment along with art’s dematerialization, or its move away from visible and material form.
Ragain received her MA and PhD in art and architectural history from the University of Virginia. She has written for Art Journal, Art Lies, Criticism, Inform magazine, and X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly and was a critical studies fellow in the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She is the recipient of a 2015 Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. Ragain recently published Dissolve into Comprehension: Writings and Interviews, 1964–2004, an edited volume of writing by the new media theorist Jack Burnham (MIT Press, 2015).