Rebecca J. Dobkins

Rebecca J. Dobkins

History and Interests

Joined Willamette faculty in 1996, after working as a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. Interests include museum studies, Native American contemporary and traditional arts, Maori (New Zealand) arts, and the indigenous peoples, human rights, and the environment. As a curator at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Dobkins has organized exhibitions of Native American art that have toured nationally and internationally. Projects include the exhibition The Art of Ceremony: Regalia of Native Oregon, which was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts 2008 American Masterpieces grant. Dobkins is the faculty supervisor for the Chemawa Indian School-Willamette University Partnership Program, a collaborative community service learning project.

Exhibitions Curated at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art

  • Marie Watt: Lodge, 2012 (traveled to Tacoma Art Museum)
  • Ancestral Dialogues: Conversations in Native American Art, 2011, ongoing (reinstallation of permanent Collection)
  • The Art of Ceremony: Regalia of Native Oregon, 2008-09 (traveled to Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, The Museum at Warm Springs, Oregon Historical Society)
  • Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs, 2008 (traveled to Missoula Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum)
  • Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts Biennials (2008, 2010, 2012)


2012  Marie Watt:  Lodge.  Salem, OR: Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University. Distributed by University of Washington Press.  110 pp.

2009  Life Stories for New Generations:  The Living Art of Oregon Tribal Regalia.  Oregon Historical Quarterly 110: 420-439.

2009.  Foreword.  Leonard F. Chana:  Tohono O’odham, Leonard Chana, Susan Lobo and Barbara Chana.  Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

2008  The Art of Ceremony:  Regalia of Native Oregon.  Hallie Ford Museum of Art. (booklet, 16 pp.) 

2008 Joe Feddersen:  Vital Signs.  Seattle:  University of Washington Press, in association with Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University.  A volume in the Jacob Lawrence Series on American Artists. With essays by Barbara Earl Thomas and Gail Tremblay.  126 pp.

2008  James Lavadour: The Properties of Paint.  Salem, OR:  The Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Willamette University.  (booklet, 8 pp.) 

Conference Papers and Invited Lectures

2011, November.  Collaborative Curation: Redefining American Masterpieces.  Invited Session: Querying Art and Tradition, in honor of Nelson H.H. Graburn.  American Anthropological Association.  Montreal, QC. 

2011, October.  Performing in Print:  Wendy Red Star and James Luna at Crow’s Shadow.  Native American Art Studies Association.  Ottawa, ON.

2011, May 18.  Aboriginal Ways of Knowing: Native North American Perspectives.  School of Indigenous Studies Lecture, University of Western Australia, Perth. 

2011, May 13.  The Art of Ceremony: Knowledge and Practice in the Indigenous Pacific Northwest.
Department of Anthropology Seminar, University of Western Australia, Perth.

2009, November 21.  Panelist. Roundtable on Northern Quebec: James Bay & Nunavik, ACSUS 2009 Northern Faculty Development Institute and Study Tour.  Association for Canadian Studies in the United States 2009 Conference, San Diego, CA

2009, November 18.  Keynote Panel Speaker. 12th Annual State-Tribal Government to Government Summit.  Salem, OR. 

2009, October 20.  Curating Native Space in the Mainstream Museum.  Panelist.  Streams:  2009 Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums Conference.  Portland, OR.

2009, May. What is an American Masterpiece? Oregon Tribes Answer the NEA.  Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Awards and Fellowships

  • Willamette University Center for the Study of Religion, Law, and Democracy, 2012-13
  • Willamette University Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology, 2010-11
  • Willamette University Center for Sustainable Communities, 2010-11
  • Northern Quebec Faculty Development Institute, Association for Canadian Studies in the US, 2009
  • Millicent C. McIntosh Fellowship of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation, 2007-2009

Major Grants

  • National Endowment for the Arts Art Works (for commission of new work for the Native American Gallery of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, 2011-13)
  • National Endowment for the Arts Access to Artistic Excellence (for reinstallation of permanent collection, Native American Gallery at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art), 2010
  • National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America Grant (for The Art of Ceremony project), 2008-09
  • National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Native American Visual Arts Award, (for the publication of Joe Feddersen: Vital Signs), 2008
  • National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces Program (for The Art of Ceremony project, Hallie Ford Museum of Art), 2007

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley.  1995
  • M.A., English, University of California, Berkeley.  1990
  • B.A., Women's Studies, Summa cum laude, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 1983