Susan Leibacher Ward studies the medieval art and visual culture of Western Europe. While she has studied works in a variety of media, including textiles and manuscripts, her particular focus is French architectural sculpture of the 12th century. Medieval narrative, or visual storytelling, is one of her primary scholarly interests. Recently she has begun to study Jewish art and architecture in medieval Normandy. In addition to studying the works themselves, Ward has also investigated the historiography of medieval art including the role of museums and collecting in our understanding of such sculpture.
Ward’s scholarly projects include the Census of Gothic Sculpture in America, a multi-volume catalogue of works in American public collections. This work is sponsored by the International Center of Medieval Art and has been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Getty Foundation. She co-edited volume III of the Museums of New York and Pennsylvania (2016). She was also a core member of the Working Group on Medieval Sculpture, an international group of scholars attempting to understand the materials, object nature and context of medieval sculpture. She has spoken at numerous conferences in the US, Europe and Israel and written many book reviews, exhibition reviews and articles on medieval art, including “Who Sees Christ? An Alabaster Panel of the Mass of St. Gregory” in Push Me, Pull You: Interaction, Imagination and Devotional Practices in Late Medieval and Renaissance, “The South Porch of Le Mans Cathedral and the Concept of the ‘Follower’ Portal” in Neue Forschungen zur Bauskulptur in Frankreich und Spanien im Spannungsfeld des Portail Royal in Chartres und des Pórtico de la Gloria in Santiago de Compostela and “The Visual Environment of Twelfth-Century Jewish Education in Rouen” in Images: A Journal of Jewish Art and Visual Culture. Ward has written additional articles on pedagogy, including two pieces on teaching medieval art to students of art and design. She has been a director of the International Center of Medieval Art and is past president and a board member of the New England Medieval Conference.