Dr. Aaron Levy is a Senior Lecturer in the Departments of English and the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 2002. He is also Director of the Health Ecologies Lab as well as the Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative in the School of Social Policy & Practice; Special Advisor for Health and Humanities Initiatives at Penn Medicine Academy, where he directs the Penn Medicine Listening Lab; and Executive Director and Senior Curator at Slought Foundation.
He received his PhD from the School of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, with a focus on the cultural, political and economic history of the Venice Biennale. His scholarly work explores the cultural politics of memory and histories and practices of public culture. He also studies the impact of social systems and structures on the health of individuals and communities, with an emphasis on how communities negotiate -- psychologically and aesthetically -- structural and symbolic violence, inequality, and the uneven consequences of globalization. Over fifteen years, he has developed over twenty-five courses introducing this work to undergraduate and graduate students across the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Design, Social Policy & Practice, and Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as students and faculty at other institutions locally, nationally and internationally. His other areas of scholarship include urban studies, architectural theory, and curatorial studies.
These issues are foregrounded in his work at Slought Foundation (https://slought.org), a non-profit organization at the University of Pennsylvania that works with artists, communities, and institutions worldwide to develop projects that encourage inclusiveness, advocacy, and the sharing of knowledge. He has curated exhibitions such as "Into the Open," the US representation at the Venice Biennale for Architecture; the “Perpetual Peace Project” at the International Peace Institute at the United Nations; “Mixplace Studio” with People’s Emergency Center; and hundreds of other projects with individuals such as Werner Herzog, Agnès Varda, Ai Weiwei, Cecil Balmond, and Antanas Mockus. This work has been supported through grants from foundations such as The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and received coverage in outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, Artforum, and In These Times.
He has edited over twenty books, films, and multimedia publications, including Cities Without Citizens (2002); Helene Cixous' Ex-cities (2007); On the Living History of the Venice Architecture Biennale (2010); John Cage's How to Get Started (2010); Evasions of Power (2011); Utterly Precarious: Carolee Schneemann (2013); and Art, or Listen to the Silence: Soun-Gui Kim with Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy (2014).
Levy has twice served on the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions, was a United States Cultural Envoy to Pakistan, and is on the board of directors of AICA-USA, the International Art Critics Association.