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Department of Art + Design
Dr. Tamara Smithers

Dr. Tamara Smithers

PhD, Temple University, Philadelphia
Professor - Art History
Art + Design Building 211

Dr. Tamara Smithers, Professor of Art History, received her Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance art history from Temple University in 2012, joining APSU the same year. She teaches a variety of courses including Introduction to Art, Art History Surveys, Italian Renaissance, European Baroque, and Native American Visual Culture. She also takes students to Rome, Italy for the Art in Rome Study Abroad Program.

Dr. Smithers has published several scholarly essays and two academic books: an edited volume <Michelangelo in the New Millennium: Conversations about Artistic Practice, Patronage & Christianity> (Leiden: Brill Publishing, 2016), and a monograph entitled <The Cults of Raphael and Michelangelo: Artistic Sainthood and Memorials as a Second Life> (London: Routledge Publishing, 2023), which explores the phenomenon of the cults of Raphael and Michelangelo in relation to their death, burial, and posthumous fame—or second life—from their own times through the nineteenth century. 

She also regularly presents research at competitive international conferences in her field and has received several internal and external grants and awards to support her research, notably a Friends of Princeton University Library Research Grant Awardee (Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, May 2015), a Lindsay Young Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Marco Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Awardee (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, March 2016), and a Visiting Scholar position at the American Academy in Rome (Rome, Italy, February 2020).

As a teacher-scholar, Dr. Smithers’ mission has been to make her research accessible to students and non-specialists alike. She has written non-scholarly works such as the book A Short Biography of Michelangelo (Applewood’s Benna Books, forthcoming) and wrote the 2021 essay “Who was Michelangelo?” for SmartHistory.org, an open-access, on-line resource for undergraduates. Her research informs her teaching, and she is very passionate about sharing her subject with others, including members of the community. In 2015, she taught a three-part lecture series in 2015 on Michelangelo’s life and artworks at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville and gave the 2023 Woodward Library Society Annual Fundraiser book talk about her recent monograph book. Her current interests lie in contemporary Native American art and advocacy. For example, she published an exhibition review of “Jeffrey Gibson: Body Electric” at the Frist Museum of Art in Nashville, TN (February 3–April 23, 2023).

Dr. Smithers received the 2023 APSU National Alumni Distinguished Professor Award, which was voted on by faculty, students, and alumni.

Govs on the Go: Faculty Spotlight Edition with Tamara Smithers

Michelangeo in the New Millennium

Smithers, Cults book cover