Skip to main content

Joy Gritton, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Art History in the Dept. of Art & Design (School of Creative Arts)Joy.jpg


  •  Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles


Joy Gritton is a Kentucky native who believes in the power of the arts to foster healthy communities. She seeks through her teaching and research to empower others to contribute their time, energies, talents, and intellect to collaborative community building. Gritton's primary areas of expertise are Native American and Appalachian art. Her book chronicling the early history of the Institute of American Indian Arts has become a classic in its field. She has traveled widely to diverse Native communities and taught for seven years at IAIA, the only art school in the country devoted solely to Native American arts and cultures. Gritton developed MSU's Appalachian Arts course and serves as Director of the interdisciplinary Appalachian Studies program and minor. She regularly publishes and presents on Appalachian arts and history, and is currently completing a book on Allen Eaton, author of the classic "Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands." With funding from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Kentucky Oral History Commission she is presently working with graduate student Gloria Stepp to interview Eastern Kentucky women artists who are making a positive impact in their communities through the visual arts. Gritton is also the founder and coordinator of the Eastern Kentucky Arts Project, which seeks to nurture the visual arts of Kentucky’s Appalachian counties by providing information on the region’s arts-related resources. A firm believer in service learning and challenging students to apply new knowledge and skills to "real" projects, her class assignments have included public art murals, Day of the Dead events, Dada fests, and Native American themed exhibitions. Field trips, conferences, study abroad, and off-campus student exhibitions are important opportunities she frequently makes available to her students. Gritton also supervises Undergraduate Research Fellows who complete original research under her tutelage.


110 Claypool-Young Art Bldg.