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New Director appointed for WVU’s School of Art & Design

Kristina Olson

West Virginia University faculty member Kristina Olson has been named Director of the School of Art & Design, effective July 1.

“Kristina Olson is a decorated educator who brings a wealth of knowledge to the position, having held leadership positions in the school for over a decade,” said College of Creative Arts Dean Keith Jackson. “Her strength as a communicator and her history of passionate advocacy for the arts makes her an incredible leader for our School of Art & Design.”

Olson currently serves as the Co-Director of the School of Art & Design and Professor of Art History. 

“I am honored to accept the Director position,” Olson said. “As a longtime faculty member in the School of Art & Design, I am pleased to have a chance to lead the support for our outstanding students and faculty.”

Olson hopes to use her background as a writer and art historian of modern and contemporary art to continue to prepare students for today’s in-demand and growing professions in the visual arts. 

“Given the current expansion of media-intensive visual culture, the School is committed to preparing students to contribute as arts professionals of all kinds including as designers, artists, teachers, gallery and museum staff, scholars, art therapists, writers, etcetera,” Olson said.

Education about arts careers and the School of Art & Design through K-12 student outreach, summer camps and social media will be important missions for the School of Art & Design moving forward. 

“This is a great time to become a student in the School of Art & Design,” Olson said. “We have new degrees, areas of studio art emphasis, certificates, and tracks including Art Therapy, Game Design and Interactive Media, and Technical Art History for those interested in conservation.

“In addition to our truly cross-disciplinary Art Education, Art History, and Fine Arts majors, all degrees are nationally accredited and constantly updated to provide students with the most current scholarship, technology and training to prepare for today’s expanding creative professions.”

Olson received her MA in art criticism and art history from Stony Brook University and a BA in humanities with a minor in art history from the University of Oregon. She has taught courses in modern and contemporary art, architecture, and theory with specialized courses on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol, and on the Art of Exhibition Review writing.

Olson’s current research focuses on the intersections of contemporary art, architecture, and social practice. She is co-editor and a contributing author to Social Practice Art in Turbulent Times: The Revolution Will Be Live (Routledge, 2019), a contributing author to ART of Critique/Re-imagining Professional Art Criticism and the Art School Critique (ARTium Publishing, pending), and was co-editor of Blanche Lazzell: The Life and Work of an American Modernist (West Virginia University Press, 2004).

To read more about Olson, visit