Whether it be in a classroom or a museum, I love seeing the look of awe in the eyes of students when they encounter art that really captures their attention.

Melynda Seaton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

  • Faculty
Contact Melynda
Art 104B
Related Department
Des Moines, New Mexico
College Major
Art History
Year Graduated

Melynda Seaton is a native Texan, but she grew up in a tiny town in northeastern New Mexico. She initially wanted to be a photographer, but after being introduced to art history while attending West Texas A&M University, Melynda was hooked. Her research interests continued to involve photography but have expanded to include contemporary art, in particular, that of Native American artists. Melynda has a background in curatorial work and enjoys engaging directly with artists in her projects. Before moving back home to Texas in 2019 to begin working at Texas A&M University-Commerce, Melynda was the Curator of Photography at History Colorado as well as the Director and Curator of the Great Plains Art Museum at the University of Nebraska.

A Conversation with Dr. Seaton

What would you tell a student who is thinking about attending A&M-Commerce?

“The best part about a small campus like TAMUC is the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with your fellow classmates and instructors. For most art classes, even art history, class sizes are small, so you won't just be a face in a large lecture hall, but your professors and classmates will know your name.”

What draws you to your discipline?

“Art is such a big part of our lives and art history helps us to understand what art means and why it was made. A job where I get to talk about art for a living is the best. Whether it be in a classroom or a museum, I love seeing the look of awe in the eyes of students when they encounter art that really captures their attention. I hope that by teaching others about art, students can develop an appreciation of art that they can then pass on to others.”

Tell us about a project you are currently working on or recently completed.

“I am in the last stages of editing an essay entitled “Reimagining End of the Trail” that will be part of a volume of essays being published by the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. The collection will be comprised of several of the papers given at the conference by the same name, Rethinking Regionalism: 20th-Century Art and Visual Culture in the American West, held in December 2019. I examine imagery related to James Earle Fraser's sculpture End of the Trail (1915). Fraser's rendering has taken on iconic status and been transformed into a symbol of the American West as 3 subject of kitsch adorning everything from belt buckles to shower curtains. Many artists have appropriated the End of the Trail. In some cases, the intent is to pay homage often proliferating the misrepresentation of Indigenous cultures, while others adopt the visage to draw attention to the myths of the American West and/or question the stereotypical connotations regarding representations of Native Americans and First Nations. I explore artworks by several contemporary artists, with a concentration placed on James Luna (Puyukitchum-Ipai-Mexican-American) and Kent Monkman (Cree) whose work challenges the signification of the original sculpture and embeds new meaning into Fraser's work that is relevant to both Native and non-native audiences.”

Tell us a little about yourself

“I was the first Ph.D. graduate for the Art of the American West program at the University of Oklahoma. I have worked on a variety of different projects, but one of the most interesting was at History Colorado, I was tasked with acquiring artifacts and oral histories related to the legalization of marijuana in the state. It was a super fun project as I met so many interesting people and learned more than I could have imagined about cannabis. I have been a huge fan of George Strait since I was little, I even had a George Strait tote bag in elementary school and my first academic publication was an essay about the film “Pure Country” and the King of Country himself.”

Upper Falls at Yellowstone using a Yashica Twin Lens Reflex Camera

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. Art History, University of Oklahoma, 2015
  • M.A., Art History, University of North Texas, 2006
  • B.A., Art, West Texas A&M University, 1999

Academic Positions

  • Assistant Professor, Art History, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2019- Present
  • Professor of Practice, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2015-2016
  • Lecturer, University of Oklahoma, 2011-2014
  • Instructor, Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2009-2014
  • Instructor, Art Institute of Dallas, Dallas, Texas, 2007-2010
  • Adjunct Instructor, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, 2006-2006

Awards and Honors

  • Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Grant, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2020
  • Nebraska Arts Council Grant to support exhibitions Cowboys from the Collection and Robert Taylor, 2017
  • Humanities Nebraska Grant to support exhibitions Cowboys from the Collection and Robert Taylor, 2017
  • Lincoln Community Foundation Grant for purchase of gallery stools, 2016
  • Woods Charitable Fund Grant for catalog production and artwork purchase for exhibition Contemporary Indigeneity, 2016
  • Nebraska Arts Council Grant to support exhibition Contemporary Indigeneity, 2016
  • Humanities Nebraska Grant to support exhibition Contemporary Indigeneity, 2016
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Convocation Grant to support education programming related to exhibition Contemporary Indigeneity, 2016
  • Nebraska Arts Council Grant to support exhibitions From This Grass Earth and We, The Heartland, 2015
  • Nebraska Arts Council Grant to support exhibition Looking Back, Looking Forward: Native American Art from the Permanent Collection, 2015
  • Robert & Grayce Kerr Fellowship in Art of the American West, 2010-2014
  • Mark Allen Everett Scholarship for Art of the American West/Native American Art, 2010-2014
  • Madeline Colbert Steed Scholarship, Madeline Colbert Steed Art Sooner Heritage Scholarship, 2010-2014
  • Laura C. Stauffer Scholarship, Alumni Reunion Sooner Heritage Scholarship, Robberson Travel Grant, 2010-2014
  • Faculty Member of the Quarter, Art Institute of Dallas, 2008

Research Interests

  • Contemporary Native American Art
  • Photography and Film
  • Contemporary Art

Professional Organizations

  • Center for Great Plains Studies Fellow
  • College Art Association
  • Popular Culture Association

Selected Publications

ART 1304 Global History of Art II
ART 497 History of art and Protest
ARTS 597 Art of the American West

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