Vagner Mendonça-Whitehead

  • Director of School of Visual Arts
  • Professor of Art and Digital Arts and Media Design
Vagner Mendonça-Whitehead


Vagner Mendonça-Whitehead, former chair of the Department of Visual Arts at Texas Woman’s University, was appointed director of the Penn State School of Visual Arts (SoVA), a unit of the College of Arts and Architecture, effective September 15, 2020.

Mendonça-Whitehead’s practice encompasses traditional and newer media art-making, curatorial projects, and creative writings on visual culture. His artworks display accidental and forced intersections of personal experiences, histories, geo-locations, languages, and found artifacts, and manifest themselves through traditional and new media pieces, presented extensively in group and solo exhibitions in galleries and museums, as well as film and video festivals, nationally and internationally, including Latin America, Europe, Australia, India, Russia, and United Arab Emirates. His writings unravel similar media/visual encounters in the form of critical and poetic essays.

In addition to presenting at national and international professional conferences, Mendonça-Whitehead has presented his works as a visiting artist at University of Kansas–Lawrence, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville, Champlain College and San Jose State University, to name a few. He has also participated in artist residencies in the United States, Argentina, and Scotland.

Mendonça-Whitehead was the president of the New Media Caucus from 2014 to 2017, where he has also served on the Board of Directors since 2011. In 2016 he was selected as an Emerging Arts Administrator Fellow with the National Council of Arts Administrators, and a Fellow with the Advocacy Leadership Institute for the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture. Mendonça-Whitehead frequently serves the National Endowment for the Arts as a grant review panelist for its Art Works program. He currently serves on the board of directors for the National Council of Arts Administrators, focusing on equity and social media initiatives.

Before joining Texas Woman’s University, where he taught graduate-level courses in intermedia art, Mendonça-Whitehead had faculty positions at Oakland University (new media art) and Southern Illinois University (video art). He holds degrees from the Savannah College of Art and Design and University of Florida–Gainesville.