Leisa Rundquist, Ph.D.

Professor of Art History and University Curator

Contact Information

  • lrundqui@unca.edu
  • 828.251.6848
  • 240 Owen Hall

Leisa Rundquist specializes in modern and contemporary art and theory. Before coming to UNC Asheville in 2007, she completed her Ph.D. at UNC Chapel Hill and taught American Art at NC State University. Prior to graduate school, Rundquist was Curator at the South Bend Art Museum (South Bend, Indiana) from 1990 to 2000 and a Lecturer at Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana) from 1996-2000. While at the museum, she organized numerous, temporary and permanent indoor exhibitions focusing on nineteenth- and twentieth-century art of the United States as well as orchestrated a series of outdoor sculpture installations at the South Bend Regional Airport.

Given the opportunities to contribute broadly across the curriculum at UNC Asheville, Rundquist teaches courses in the Department of Art and Art History, the Liberal Arts First-Year Colloquia, and the Honors program.  In addition, she collaborates with Karin Peterson (Sociology) on Curatoria, an interdisciplinary initiative to develop student-centered curatorial projects and promote community engagement. [Curatoria projects]

Rundquist was the recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities Award.

Her research speaks to the intersections of childhood, religious piety, gender, and race in the art of Henry Darger.  New directions in her research explore curatorial strategies that construct the representation of marginalized artists and their artistic practices, specifically those categorized as self-taught and “outsider.”


  • Ph.D., Modern and Contemporary Art
    UNC Chapel Hill
  • M.A., American Art History
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • B.F.A., Art History
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Courses Taught

  • ARTH 202 Introduction to Art History II
  • ARTH 302 Internship in Art History
  • ARTH 340 Art of the 17th and 18th Centuries
  • ARTH 350 Nineteenth Century Art
  • ARTH 360 Modern Art and Modernism
  • ARTH 365 Art Since 1945
  • ARTH 374 HON: Go Figure!: Visualizing the Body, Humanness, and Humanity in Contemporary Art
  • ARTH 420 Museum Studies
  • ARTH 460 Issues in Art History:Art of the U.S. from the Civil War through the Gilded Age
  • ARTH 480 Theories and Methods in Art History
  • ARTH 484 Senior Seminar Research I
  • ARTH 485 Senior Seminar Research II
  • LA 178 "Outsider Art" in the 21st Century

Publications amd Curated Exhibitions (2007-present)

  • Betwixt-and-Between: Henry Darger’s Vivian Girls. Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago, IL, April 14 – September 4, 2017. Catalogue 2017. http://www.art.org/betwixt-and-between-henry-dargers-vivian-girls/
  • Forthcoming: Peterson, Karin E. and Leisa Rundquist. “Valorizing Gee’s Bend Quilts: Affinity, Adjacency, and the Modern Eye” in A Companion to Textile Culture, Jennifer Harris, ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Forthcoming: “Pictures of Fires Big or Small: Henry Darger’s Macabre Scrapbook,” The Outsider (Summer 2017).
  • Review of Valérie Rousseau. When the Curtain Never Comes Down: Performance Art and the Alter Ego. New York: American Folk Art Museum. 2015 (book review for CAA Reviewshttp://www.caareviews.org/reviews/2678#.V8Q72RMrKIZ.
  • Social Geographies: Interpreting Space and Place. Asheville Art Museum, Jan. 25 – May 18, 2014. Online catalogue:  https://art.unca.edu/rundquist-curates-social-geographies-interpreting-space-and-place 
  • "Vivam! The Divine Intersexuality of Henry Darger's Vivian Girl." Elsewhere: The International Journal of Self-Taught and Outsider Art. no.  2 (May 2014): 24-42.http://stoarc.com/
  • Review of Michael Moon. Darger’s Resources. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012 (book review for the Journal of American Studies, Cambridge University Press, UK, February 2013. 47:1. E16. DOI: 10.1017/S0021875812002459. 
  • “Small but Mighty: How ‘Littleness’ Takes on Epic Proportions in the Art of Henry Darger,” The Outsider 15.1 (Fall 2010): 18-21. http://issuu.com/intuit/docs/outsider_vol_15_no_1
  • “Little Ways: Girlhood According to Henry Darger,” Southeastern College Art Conference Review, Volume XV, No. 4 (2009): 434-447. [available via Ebsco’s Art Full Text and Humanities Full Text].
  • “Pyre: A Poetics of Fire and Childhood in the Art of Henry Darger,” dissertation, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 2007.


  • SECAC Conference, October 2015. Co-chaired the session New Notions of Community for Folk and Self-Taught Art as well as co-chairing and presenting a paper, "Visual Art and the Aesthetics of Cuteness," in the panel discussion, "The Power of Cuteness in the Art of Henry Darger."