Candace Keller
(517) 353-1599

324 Kresge Art Center
600 Auditorium Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyArt, Art History, and DesignGlobal Studies in Arts and Humanities

Associate Professor
Art History & Visual Culture

Curriculum Vitae


Candace M. Keller earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of the History of Art at Indiana University, where she majored in African art and minored in African Studies and African American art. Her work is driven by a commitment to intellectual and cultural diversity. She strives to bring African cultural practices and theoretical perspectives to the conceptual awareness of global audiences, emphasizing their critical value within our increasingly interconnected, transcultural world. With a specific focus on vernacular art and photography, her work centers on the power of representation. She investigates the ways in which cultural knowledge and markers of social identity are constructed, perpetuated, and contested via visual language systems. In this vein, she considers how individuals—artists, patrons, and audiences—ascribe meaning to images as they traverse cultural contexts, cultivating a sense of social belonging, individuality, or exclusivity, to appreciate how local means of visual expression can have far reaching significance for global citizens. Her research and courses center on issues of identity, personhood, and complex agency, as well as processes of transculturation, globalization, nationalism, and postcolonialism.

Dr. Keller is Director of the Archive of Malian Photography and Associate Director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences. Her research on the histories of photography in Mali, West Africa, has appeared in several publications, invited lectures, and conference presentations, and has been generously supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the British Library. Her book, Imaging Culture: Photography in Mali, West Africa was published by Indiana University Press in 2021.


HA271: African Art from Local to Global Contexts

HA271: African Art from Local to Global Contexts

HA471: Contemporary Art in Africa and the African Diaspora

HA491: Rethinking Aesthetics in Art and Everyday Life

RCAH203: Transcultural Relations – Art and Cultural Exchange among Africa, Europe, and the Americas

RCAH292B: Engagement and Reflection through Photovoice

RCAH292B: Engagement and Reflection through Artvoice

RCAH291: The Power of Photography

Study Abroad in Mali (offered every other summer)


“Framed and Hidden Histories: West African Photography from Local to Global Contexts.” African Arts 47, 4 (Winter 2014): 36-47.

“Transculturated Displays: International Fashion and West African Portraiture.” In African Dress Encounters: Fashion, Agency, Performance, eds. Karen Tranberg Hansen and Soyini Madison, 276-301. London: Bloomsburg Academic (Berg Press), 2013.

“Visual Griots: Identity, Aesthetics, and the Social Roles of Portrait Photographers in Mali.” In Portraiture & Photography in Africa, eds. Elisabeth Cameron and John Peffer, 363-405. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.

“Gologo, Mamadou El Béchir.” In Dictionary of African Biography, eds. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Emmanuel Akyeampong. 481-483. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

“Studio Photography in Mali.” In The Social Body: Malian Portraiture from the Studio to the Street, ed. Laurel Bradley. 10-23. Northfield: Carleton College, 2012.

“Imaging Culture: Photography in Mali, West Africa.” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2021.


University News

College of Arts & Letters Students Receive UURAF First-Place Awards for Research
Published May 8, 2023 in College of Arts & Letters
Several College of Arts & Letters students earned first-place awards for their presentations at the 2023 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF). The 25th UURAF at Michigan…Read now »
Faculty Members Recognized With Outstanding Achievement Awards
Published March 7, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
The College of Arts & Letters is pleased to honor the 2021 Faculty Award winners for their outstanding leadership, teaching, innovation, and community engagement. The six awards presented by the…Read now »
CAL in the Classroom
Published November 16, 2020 in College of Arts & Letters Alumni and retired faculty and staff had the opportunity to attend a virtual event on November 7 where attendees got an insider’s look at the…Read now »
MFA Prize-Winning Exhibit Explores the Meaning of Value
Published May 1, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
picture of a metal-looking building, MSU's broad art museum
Jazzmyn Barbosa is this year’s winner of the Master of Fine Arts Prize, which was presented during the closing reception for the Department of Art, Art History, and Design’s 2018…Read now »
Podcast: Digitizing African Photography
Published February 13, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
2 women and 2 men posing for a picture in the liberal arts endeavor podcast studio
On the latest episode of The Liberal Arts Endeavor, a podcast by the Michigan State University’s College of Arts & Letters, co-hosts Hannah Bullion and Dean Chris Long discussed The Archive…Read now »
Preserving Heritage in Mali
Published February 7, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
portrait photo of a women with a scarf around her head While interest in African photography has swelled over the past 20 years, extreme temperatures and improper storage have…Read now »
Global Digital Humanities Symposium
Published March 9, 2016 in College of Arts & Letters
global digital humanities symposium poster
MSU Hosting First Global Digital Humanities Symposium MSU’s Digital Humanities Program is hosting its first symposium on global digital humanities with a focus on the Global South on April…Read now »
Professor Candace Keller Receives NEH Grant
Published April 29, 2015 in College of Arts & Letters
portrait of a woman with long blonde hair and rectangular glasses. she is next to a bookshelf full of books
Hoping to preserve cultural heritage and change Western thought on Africa, a Michigan State University researcher will use a $300,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize…Read now »