Jared C. Katz, Ph.D.

Jared C. Katz

Name: Jared C. Katz
Position: Associate Curator of the Americas and Africa
Email address: jkatz2@nd.edu

What is the most rewarding aspect of your position?
I think there are several extremely rewarding aspects of my position. First, as a curator and an archaeologist, I find working directly with material culture to be a powerful experience. Holding an object from thousands of years ago provides me with a sense of connectedness to the artisan who made it and the people who used it. Second, as a researcher and an educator, I find making these objects and information about the people who created and used them accessible to the broader public to be quite fulfilling. There are very few public spaces where visitors can learn about and embrace different cultures, and museums are one such space. 

How did you get into museum work?
When I was in graduate school, I did the research for my academic project in a small museum in Guatemala. The museum set me up in this room with a glass wall located at the end of one of the galleries, essentially putting me and my process on display for museum guests. This museum was located next to a school, and kids would sometimes come into the gallery to watch me work, which included playing and recording ancient musical instruments. I found it problematic that I, an outsider, had access to these instruments due to my academic affiliation, and local students and musicians were not afforded the same opportunity. From that point forward, I prioritized making the research I produced accessible to as broad an audience as possible. That led me to start running outreach programs in schools and public institutions, which in turn led me to museum work. 

What is your favorite work of art in the Snite Museum of Art's collections?
I cannot pick a single artwork as my favorite but rather, will list one of many. It is a beautiful ceramic vessel from the Classic Maya period that depicts one of the Hero Twins, an important figure from the Popol Vuh, a Maya creation story, playing the ceremonial ballgame with a monkey observing from the stands. I have chosen this object as it allows me to address many important topics, such as mythology, deities, the role of the ballgame, and more.