Professional Associates - Dexter Cirillo

Dexter Cirillo, Ph.D.

Professional Title: Freelance writer, author

B.A. English, San Diego State University, 1963
M.A. English, San Diego State University, 1969
Ph.D. English, Graduate Center, City University of New York, 1979


Career Profile: Following her service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Public Health and Community Development in Colombia, South America (1965-1967), Dexter began her career in academia. She taught at Hostos Community College, the first Puerto Rican College in the country, from 1970-1974. At Hostos, she co-developed and directed Libra: An Interdisciplinary Basic Skills Program that became a model for the City University of New York. In 1974, the Modern Language Association hired her to coordinate a four-year national program funded by NEH to incorporate minority literature into the curriculum in colleges and universities. From 1979-1981, she served as MLA’s Director of English Programs and Editor of the Association of Departments of English Bulletin. In her academic work, she has focused on the role that stories and the oral tradition play in preserving cultural and personal histories.

In 1981, she left academia to pursue a long-time interest in American Indian art as an independent scholar, curator, and art dealer, serving as Director of Gallery 10, Inc. in New York from 1984-1985. While in New York, she co-chaired the opening of the American Craft Museum in 1986 (now the Museum of Arts and Design) and served on the National Advisory Committee for MAD’s groundbreaking exhibition, Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation, 1 – Contemporary Native American Art from the Southwest (2001-2002), also contributing to the catalogue. In 1990, she became a Founding Member of the New York Leadership Council for the National Museum of the American Indian, curating three benefit auctions for NMAI. In 1993, Dexter and her husband Dennis moved to Aspen, Colorado, where she worked as a free-lance writer when not working on her own books. A frequent judge at the Santa Fe Spanish and Indian Markets and the Heard Museum Indian Market, Dexter has lectured on Southwestern Indian jewelry at museums and universities around the country.

Books (published under Dexter Fisher)
Afro-American Literature – The Reconstruction of Instruction (with Robert B. Stepto, Modern Language Association, 1979).
The Third Woman – Minority Women Writers of the United States (Houghton Mifflin, 1980), one of the first anthologies to highlight the literature of Asian American, Chicana, Native American, and Afro-American women.
Cogewea – The Half Blood by Mourning Dove (University of Nebraska Press, 1981). Critical Introduction to Reprint edition.
American Indian Stories by Zitkala Sa/Gertrude Bonnin (University of Nebraska Press, 1985). Critical Introduction to Reprint Edition.

Books (published under Dexter Cirillo)
Southwestern Indian Jewelry (Abbeville Press, 1992).
Across Frontiers – Hispanic Crafts of New Mexico (Chronicle Books, 1998).
Southwestern Indian Jewelry – Crafting New Traditions (Rizzoli, 2008), winner of the 2008 New Mexico Book Award

Numerous articles in professional and popular magazines.

Volunteer/Community Service:
Board Member, Aspen Writers’ Foundation (2001-2005)
Board Member, Anderson Ranch Arts Center (1999-2004)
Executive Service Corps Consultant to Asistencia Para Latinos (2000-2001)
Judge, Santa Fe Spanish Market (2009, 2011, 2016)
Judge, Santa Fe Indian Market (2003, 2009, 2017)
Judge, Heard Museum Indian Market (2007, 2012, 2016)
Member, Professional Associates of Fort Lewis College (2017)

Center of Southwest Studies, Friends of Colombia, Heard Museum, Institute of American Indian Arts, Millicent Rogers Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, PEN Center USA West, School for Advanced Research, Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, Spanish Colonial Arts Society, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

Note:  In 2016, Dexter and her husband moved to Durango, where their hikes now include prehistoric ruins. They both look forward to ski season.