Professor Obler's research and teaching interests include modern and contemporary art and craft from the late nineteenth century to the present, with emphases on twentieth-century avant-gardes, theories of gender and cross-cultural representation, photography, applied arts, and intellectual history. Her first book, Intimate Collaborations: Kandinsky and Münter, Arp and Taeuber (Yale University Press, 2014), investigates the role of artist couples in the emergence of abstract art. Her second book, currently titled Anti-Craft, will examine the relation of art and craft in the late twentieth century through a series of case studies: Al Loving’s fabric constructions, Rebecca Horn’s bodily extensions, Lynda Benglis’s ceramics, and El Anatsui’s work in wood.
Obler’s writing has been featured in American Art, Art Bulletin, Artforum, caa.reviews, The Journal of Modern Craft, and Sculpture Journal. Prior to arriving at GW, Professor Obler held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University, and in the spring of 2012, she was the James Renwick Fellow in American Craft at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Obler is currently working on a book manuscript titled Anti-Craft. In addition, with Phyllis Rosenzweig, curator emerita, Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, she is curating an exhibition, Fast Fashion / Slow Art, that will open at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, in July 2019 and travel to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in spring 2020.
Obler recently joined the editorial collective of Feminist Studies.
- "Lynda Benglis Recrafts Abstract Expressionism," American Art 32, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 2–23
- "Reflections on Lucy Lippard’s ‘Turning the Mirrors Around,’" invited contribution to 30th Anniversary Issue of American Art 31, no. 2 (Summer 2017): 10-12
- "Craft as a Response to War" in Nation Building: Craft and Contemporary American Culture, ed. Nicholas Bell. Bloomsbury, 2016.
- "Taeuber, Arp, and the Politics of Cross-Stitch," Art Bulletin 91, no. 2 (June 2009): 207–29
- "Examining a Literal Genealogy: The Case of Kiki and Tony Smith," Sculpture Journal 15, no. 1 (Spring 2006): 68–91
BA in History and History of Art and Architecture, Brown University
MA in History of Art, University of California at Berkeley
PhD in History of Art, University of California at Berkeley