Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis

Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture and African American Studies
Sarah Lewis


Sarah Lewis received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard, an M. Phil from Oxford University, and her Ph.D. from Yale University in the History of Art.

Lewis’s research interests focus on representations of race in contemporary art and nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America culture and across the Black Atlantic world and the Black Sea region. Her scholarship has been published in many academic journals as well as The New Yorker, the New York Times, Artforum, Art in America and in publications for the Smithsonian, The Museum of Modern Art, and Rizzoli. Lewis is also the author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, a layered, story-driven investigation of how innovation, discovery, and the creative progress are all spurred on by advantages gleaned from the improbable foundations. The work has been translated into 6 languages.

Her current book project, which lies at the intersection of African American Studies, Art History, and Slavic Studies, is under contract with Harvard University Press. Her scholarship has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition.

Lewis has served on President Obama’s Arts Policy Committee and currently serves on the advisory council of the International Review of African-American Art and the board of the Andy Warhol Foundation of the Visual Arts, Creative Time, and The CUNY Graduate Center.

She is a frequent speaker and has lectured at many universities and conferences such as TEDGlobal, SXSW, PopTech, ASCD, ALA and for a wide range of organizations from the Aspen Institute to the Getty.

Before joining the faculty at Harvard, she held curatorial positions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Tate Modern, London and taught at Yale University School of Art.

In 2015-16, she will be on leave from Harvard as a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library finishing her current book project.

She lives in Cambridge, MA and New York City.

Contact Information

485 Broadway
Sackler 409
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: 617.495.3241


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