Jennifer Sichel's research focuses on 20th and 21st-century art, criticism, and visual culture, with an emphasis on investigating how art manifests queer forms of attachment and belonging. Her current book project, with the working title Criticism without Authority: Assembling Queer Practices, 1963-73, focuses on Gene Swenson and Jill Johnston—critics who assembled improbable, queer ways of being in the world. They tended to shatter things rather than shore them up, and to withhold comforts of certainty and political solidarity. A deeply archival project, the book recovers and reassembles (at times suppressed) queer archival material. During her research, Sichel tracked down Gene Swenson’s papers (including an unknown cassette-tape recording of his defining 1963 interview with Andy Warhol). She worked with the Smithsonian Archives of American Art to acquire and conserve Swenson's archive. She is also working collaboratively on a co-edited volume titled Queer Work | Queer Archives that will investigate the stakes and methodological challenges of doing queer archival labor. The project aims to foster ongoing conversations about how archival work can establish queer relationships to the past outside standard narratives of national and generational progress.
Sichel received her PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago in December 2018. During the 2019-20 academic year, she served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Humanities Division at the University of Chicago. She holds a BA in art history and philosophy from Boston University and an MA from the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.