Allison Caplan

Allison Caplan
Assistant Professor

Specialization

Mesoamerican art; ancient and colonial Latin America; art theory and aesthetics; materiality; art and language.

Education

B.A. Columbia University
Ph.D. Tulane University

Bio

Allison Caplan’s research focuses on the art of the Aztec Empire and colonial New Spain, examining indigenous Nahua art theory and aesthetics, issues of materiality and value, and the relationship between visual and verbal expression. Caplan is currently working on her first book, Our Flickering Creations: Art Theory under the Aztec Empire, which reconstructs the key concepts of color, light, surface, and assemblage in Nahua art theory for works in valued media, including precious stones, feathers, and metals.

Caplan received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Art History and Latin American Studies from Tulane University and her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society from Columbia University. She has held fellowships and grants from the Getty Research Institute, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Johns Hopkins University.

Publications

Allison Caplan. “Locking Eyes with the Sun: Perception, Landscape, and the Fame of Greenstone in a Sixteenth-Century Nahuatl Narrative,” Essay. MAVCOR Journal 5, no. 1 (2021)

Allison Caplan. “The Living Feather: Tonalli in Nahua Feather Production.” In “Birds and Feathers in the Ancient and Colonial Mesoamerican World,” edited by Allison Caplan and Lisa Sousa, special issue, Ethnohistory 67, no. 3 (2020): 383–406. 

Bridging Biology and Ethnohistory: A Case for Collaboration.” By Allison Caplan, James Maley, and John McCormack. In “Birds and Feathers in the Ancient and Colonial Mesoamerican World,” edited by Allison Caplan and Lisa Sousa, special issue, Ethnohistory 67, no. 3 (2020): 355–382. 

Introduction: Knowledge of Birds and Feathers in the Ancient and Colonial Mesoamerican World.” By Lisa Sousa and Allison Caplan. In “Birds and Feathers in the Ancient and Colonial Mesoamerican World,” edited by Allison Caplan and Lisa Sousa, special issue, Ethnohistory 67, no. 3 (2020): 345–354. 

Allison Caplan. “The Aztec Templo Mayor” (sidebar essay), 12 catalogue entries, and two co-authored entries. In Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas, edited by Joanne Pillsbury, Timothy Potts, and Kim N. Richter. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2017. Exhibition catalogue.