Higginbotham is an art historian whose research examines 20th century American art, and how notions of “the city” have had an impact on representation. She has lectured extensively on the history of American Art, popular visual culture, and art film, and she has been a featured scholar and consultant on documentaries including the PBS American Experience documentary on Walt Disney in 2015, and CNN: The Movies in 2019. Her book, The Urban Scene: Race, Reginald Marsh and American Art (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2015), offers a significant and innovative reassessment of the ways in which race is deployed and read in interwar American art. She has served as a peer referee for Art Bulletin, Art Journal and the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies and has acted in various capacities for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the College Art Association and the Space Between Society (Literature and Culture 1914-45).
Prior to her current role, Higginbotham served as department chair of the University of Virginia Department of Art, and as assistant and associate professor in the departments of Art and American Studies. She has been affiliated faculty for the Carter G. Woodson Center of African American and African Studies since 2005. She received a B.A. in English and Art History from the University of Minnesota; a M.A. in Art History from the University of Massachusetts; and a Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of Michigan.