Academic Profile : Faculty

Dr Karin Oen-Lee_1_1_2.jpg picture
Dr Karin Oen-Lee
Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities
Head of Art History, School of Humanities (SoH)
Dr Karin Oen-Lee is Senior Lecturer and Head of Art History in the School of Humanities.

A global modernist, she is most interested in transdisciplinary and transnational art practices that resist easy classification, and in examining modes of writing about, displaying, and collecting art in diverse cultural contexts. From early career research on avant-garde art practices in early Reform Era China to serving as a museum curator for historical, modern, and contemporary collections of Asian art, to recent investigations of paracuratorial and paracurricular practices, her work has been characterised by attention to historiographies and genealogies, institutional power structures, and a broader project of balancing the global, the local, and making space for non-canonical art histories.

Significant exhibitions include solo projects with teamLab, Haroon Mirza, Koki Tanaka, Afruz Amighi, Jean Shin, Fyerool Darma and Ala Ebtekar. Her group and thematic exhibitions have explored contemporary Japanese ceramics, modern and contemporary Japanese fashion, courtly arts from around South, Southeast, and East Asia, and the complex relationship between the physical and metaphysical in the concept of divinity.

Recently, Oen-Lee was Principal Research Fellow at the Centre for Asian Art and Design in the School of Art, Design, and Media, Nanyang Technological University. From 2019-2021 she served as Deputy Director, Curatorial Programmes for NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore. Prior to that, Dr Oen was associate curator of contemporary art at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. As the Asian Art Museum’s first full-time curator of contemporary art, Dr Oen was a pivotal figure in the growth of the museum’s contemporary collection and exhibition programme — especially in new media and works by Asian diaspora artists. Earlier in her career, she was Curator at the Crow Museum of Asian Art, a Museum Educator for Asian Art at the Peabody Essex Museum, and Curator and Director of the Artists-in-Residence program at ArtWorks, a multi-disciplinary contemporary art organization in New Bedford, MA.

Dr Oen holds a PhD in History, Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MA in Modern Art History, Connoisseurship and Art-Market History from Christie’s Education and a BA with honours from Stanford University.
Global Modern Art Histories
New Media Art Practices
Art and Technology
Modern and Contemporary Asian Art
Art World Infrastructure: museums, curatorial practices, publishing, criticism, research, art markets and philanthropy
Art Academies and Experimentation
Historiographies of Art
Courses Taught
HR2005 Survey of New Media Art
HR2010 Introduction to Museum Studies (Undergraduate)
HR4003 From Colonialism to Tourism: Early Photography in Asia
HR7001 Graduate Proseminar in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art
AP6001 Introduction to Museum Studies (Core Course for the MA MSCP, NTU ADM)