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Cameron Van Patterson

Ph.D. in African American Studies, with a primary field in History of Art and Architecture

Class of 2012

Cameron Van Patterson earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies with a focus in the History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University in 2012. His academic research examines the complex relationship between artistic practices, social discourses, and the construction of historical narratives throughout the African Diaspora. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach to his work, Patterson employs critical race theory to analyze the ways in which social genres of difference influence visual art, while simultaneously recognizing the role of art and visual culture in shaping identities that transcend and transform the politics of race and representation in western culture. Patterson is also interested in how questions of meaning, belonging, and difference are explored through the lens of contemporary African  American art. “By prompting a shift in one's perspective,” writes Patterson, “African American artists often inspire us to see the world differently. I'm interested in how formal interventions and creative practices spark new ways of seeing, thinking, and being in the world.” An aspiring visual artist and curator, Patterson is working on a series of installations that use juxtaposition to explore the presence of African mythology in contemporary African American culture.

Born and raised in Long Beach, CA, Patterson graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a B.A. in African American Studies and a minor emphasis in Education. He has taught at the high school and college levels, lectured at various universities in the U.S., and presently serves as an educational consultant for non-profit organizations and publishing companies. Currently, Patterson works to promote child literacy and early childhood education at the Children's Defense Fund in Washington D.C. In addition to his academic and artistic interests, Patterson is passionate about issues surrounding child advocacy, education, social inequality, incarceration, and the contemporary influence of social justice movements on international human rights law. His most recent publication is entitled, "(Re)Considering Race in the Desegregation of Higher Education," University of Georgia Law Review (Spring 2012).

Additional publications include:

"The Place of Justice in Reconciliation," Seattle Pacific University (Winter 2010). This article is available online and can be viewed at the following url:

Contact Information:

Cameron Van Patterson, Ph.D.
Children's Defense Fund
25 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
p   (202) 662-3654
f    (202) 662-3510