Skip to Main Content
Harry Ransom Center homepage

News Release — October 12, 2005

Ransom Center Announces Executive Curator of Photography and Visual Collections

Ellen Handy, chairperson of the Art Department at the City College of New York since 2002, has been named executive curator of photography and visual collections at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

Handy will be responsible for overseeing the Ransom Center's art, film and photography collections and working with the associate curators of the visual collections on exhibitions, interpretation of collections, programming and conferences.

At City College, Handy also taught the history of photography.

A native New Yorker, Handy received her bachelor's degree from Barnard College and a doctor's degree in photography from Princeton University. She completed her dissertation on Victorian fine art photographer Peter Henry Emerson, whose major photographically illustrated books are in the Center's photography collection.

While earning her doctor's degree, Handy was assistant professor of art at Bard College, acting as department chair for two years. She then taught modern art, connoisseurship and the history of art at Christie's Masters of Art degree program, and became the program director in 2001.

Handy began her curatorial career in photography as a research assistant at the Canadian Center for Architecture and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1994 Handy curated the exhibition "Pictorial Effect/Naturalistic Vision" from the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va. The exhibition featured works by Emerson and his great rival, Henry Peach Robinson. Many of the exhibition's Robinson images were borrowed from the Ransom Center's photography collection.

From 1995 to 2000 Handy served as curator for the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City, the city's leading photography museum. She oversaw the ICP's 50,000 photographs, curated exhibitions, managed acquisitions and published the center's first major book about its collections, "Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection."

She has published and spoken on a wide range of topics in both fine art and photography. Her art history essays and criticism concern a diverse range of artists, including Susan Rothenberg, Jenny Holzer and Kazimir Malevich.

Handy gives her inaugural lecture, "Sublime vs. Intimate Visions: Ansel Adams and the Tradition of Landscape Photography" at 7 p.m., Oct. 13 at the Ransom Center.