“It is a huge honor to assume the role of chair for the Department of Art and to continue working alongside the amazing UCLA Arts community,” Opie said. “I have been associated with the department for 25 years – 20 of those as a tenured faculty member – and I cannot imagine a more critical or optimistic time to be leading the department forward.”
Opie joined the UCLA Department of Art faculty in 2001. One of the preeminent artists of her generation, Opie is known for her evocative images documenting the cultural and geographic identity of contemporary America. Throughout her 40-year career, she has chosen a myriad of subjects including high school football players, S/M enthusiasts, modern architecture and cityscapes, surfers, swamps, families, domestic life, and President Obama’s first inauguration. Her work has been featured in hundreds of major museum and gallery exhibitions and is included in more than 60 public collections around the world.
At UCLA, Opie teaches graduate and undergraduate students in photography. In 2019, Opie was named the inaugural holder of the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Endowed Chair in Art, the first endowed professorship for the art department, established with a $2 million gift from philanthropists and entrepreneurs Lynda and Stewart Resnick. In addition to funding the chair, the Resnicks made a $500,000 gift to renovate and upgrade the undergraduate photography suite, renamed the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Photography Lab. Opie, who leads the photography program for the department, will continue teaching while concurrently serving as department chair.
As department chair, Opie will oversee the management of the department, the recruitment of new faculty, the approval of curricula, and will guide the vision and growth of the department. Her goals include securing more endowed chair positions in the department; raising scholarship funds to ensure an arts education is accessible to all students; and working alongside the School of the Arts and Architecture’s academic programs and three renowned public arts units – UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, the Hammer Museum, and the Fowler Museum – to expand and deepen UCLA’s role and engagement with the broader Los Angeles cultural community, which “will be especially important as we continue to emerge and recover from a devastating pandemic year in which such a broad swath of the arts was shut down in Los Angeles,” she said.