Professor Karil Kucera's research centers on sacred sites, with her most recently completed work focused on the cliff sculptures at the Buddhist cave site of Baodingshan in Sichuan province, Ritual and Representation in Chinese Buddhism: Visualizing Enlightenment at Baodingshan from the 12th to the 21st Century. This interest has produced a course - “Buddhism through Text and Image” - that focuses on the interplay of scripture on artistic representation and another course - "Sacred Sites of Asia" - that connects to her current research project looking at sacred sites across Asia through a variety of theoretical lenses.  She has also developed special interests in 20th century Chinese visual culture, with students addressing the context of all matters of Chinese material culture including advertising and film. Using materials from the St Olaf Flaten Art Museum collection, Professor Kucera has also been actively working with students to put on exhibitions related to Japanese and Chinese print culture, Chinese ceramics, and the Chinese scholar's studio. See her personal website for virtual catalogues from these exhibitions.

Karil has also spent a considerable amount of time pursuing issues related to the art of teaching. She has been actively involved in working with digital imaging issues, and has lectured on appropriate as well as effective usage of imagery in the classroom. She is a co-creator of a multimedia /multi-cultural Asian Studies multi-institutional database, the IDEAS project. IDEAS - an Image Database to Enhance Asian Studies - is available on the worldwide web – or  She also works regularly with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and colleagues at the University of Minnesota; click here for a video discussion of the scholar's studio at Mia by Professor Kucera and her colleagues.

Professor Kucera completed her Ph.D. in Chinese art history at the University of Kansas, her Masters degree at the University of Oregon, and her BA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to coming to St Olaf College, Karil held a post-doctorate position at the University of Washington in Seattle. She has lived and traveled extensively throughout Asia. In addition to teaching in art history, Karil has served as chair of St Olaf’s Asian Studies Department and director of the Asian Conversations program. She is currently Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and General Studies and Director of the Center for Integrative Studies