Caitlin Earley is an art historian studying the art of the ancient Americas, with a focus on ancient Maya sculpture. Her first book, The Comitán Valley: Sculpture and Identity on the Maya Frontier (University of Texas Press, 2023) considers a dynamic region of Chiapas, Mexico, in which local artists created a distinctive regional style on the edge of the Maya world. Her next project examines the motif of the captive in Classic Maya art. Usually prisoners of war, captives are depicted on carved stone monuments in states of degradation and disarray. “Bound in Stone: the Captive Body in Maya Art” reveals how these sculptures acted as communicative beings in ancient centers, working to construct social identities and maintain world order. Additional research interests include cave sites in highland Guatemala and the history of collecting in Chiapas and Guatemala. Throughout her work, Earley interrogates the agency of stone sculptures, the representation of the human body, and the ways in which sculpture affected the construction and negotiation of identity. In addition to her academic publications, she has contributed essays to the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, Grove Art Online, and Smarthistory, as well as two chapters on the Art of Mesoamerica for the free, open-access textbook Reframing Art History.
Earley has conducted over a decade of fieldwork in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, and she has worked with museum collections throughout North America. She has held fellowships at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and her work has been supported by the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She graduated from Williams College in 2003 and completed a Master’s at the University of Texas in 2008, earning her PhD at the same institution in 2015. In addition to the University of Washington, she has taught at Georgetown University, Colorado College, and the University of Nevada, Reno.