Current Graduate Students Bios
Aimee Caya is a fifth-year doctoral student studying late medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. She is particularly interested in exploring reception, performance, and materiality as they apply to late medieval sculpture. Her most recent publications are “So shall yoe bee: Encountering the Shrouded Effigies of Thomas Beresford and Agnes Hassall at Fenny Bentley,” which appeared in Contemporaneity in 2019, and a forthcoming essay co-authored with Professor Gertsman entitled “The Sensory Aesthetics of Death” that will appear in Bloomsbury’s A Cultural History of Death 840-1450. Aimee has presented research at the Midwest Art History Society conference and the International Medieval Congress at Leeds. She has been a curatorial intern for both the Islamic and Medieval art departments at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and taught art history courses at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art. In the summer of 2019, Aimee received grants from the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art and the International Center of Medieval Art to fund a research trip to England in order to study monumental brasses. In 2020, she received a College of Arts & Sciences Dissertation Fellowship in support of her dissertation, currently entitled “Brazen Bodies: the Reception and Materiality of English Monumental Brasses, c. 1300-1540.”
Russell David Green is a third-year doctoral student studying medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. He received his MA in Art History from Florida State University in 2018, where in his final semester he was awarded with the I.N. Winbury Award for outstanding writing. Russell’s research interests lie in the visualization of friendship during the Middle Ages. He aims
to explore this idea through a variety of media, including sculpture, painting, and manuscript illumination. Russell also has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting. After exhibiting his undergraduate thesis at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts in the spring of 2015, he taught several painting workshops based on the materials and techniques of the Renaissance masters. In the summer of 2019, he taught the undergraduate course Art History I: Pyramids to Pagodas at Case Western Reserve University. Beginning Spring 2021, Russell will be the curatorial intern in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Department of Prints and Drawing, where he will work under the direction of Dr. Emily Peters.
Alexandra Kaczenski is a third-year PhD student studying late medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. Her research focuses on the medieval body, objects used in devotional practices, public piety, and nineteenth-century photography. She co-authored the book, Sacred Landscapes: Nature in Renaissance Manuscripts, with Dr. Bryan Keene, to coincide with their exhibition of the same name (Getty Museum, 2017). She has also presented papers at the Medieval Association of the Pacific and the Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference. She was recently awarded the Friends of Art Best PhD Paper (2020). Alexandra comes to Cleveland from her native Los Angeles where she worked as both Curatorial Graduate Intern and Curatorial Assistant in the Manuscripts Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum. During her time at the Getty she was involved with curatorial, digitization, and provenance projects. She received her MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2013, and has held positions at Bonhams Auctioneers and the New Orleans Museum of Art, among others. Beginning in Fall 2020, she will be the curatorial intern for the Medieval Art Department at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Jillian Kruse is a first-year PhD student studying nineteenth-century European art with Professor Andrea Rager. Her research interests include late nineteenth-century experimental printmaking, materiality and intermediality, the history of collecting, global Impressionism, and questions of nationality and identity. She holds Master’s degrees from the Université de Rennes II and Trinity College, Dublin. From 2017 to 2019, she served as the Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow in Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she curated the exhibition We the People: American Prints from Between the World Wars. Jillian has held positions at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the National Gallery of Ireland. Her article “Postermania: Advertising, Domesticated,” which explores the craze for collecting French color lithographic posters in the 1890s, appeared in the May 2017 issue of Art in Print. She has also written and presented on the influence of French Impressionism in the discourse surrounding Irish modern art in the early twentieth century. Most recently, Jillian was awarded a Getty research grant for her project dealing with seriality and materiality in the prints of Camille Pissarro.
Benjamin Levy is a third-year PhD student working with Professors Andrea Wolk Rager and Henry Adams on late nineteenth-century through mid-twentieth-century art, with a focus on materiality and the artistic process in prints and photographs. Beginning in Fall 2020, Levy will be the curatorial intern in the Photography department at the Cleveland Museum of Art the under the supervision of Dr. Barbara Tannenbaum. This past year he was awarded the Jeremy Norman Scholarship to attend the Rare Book School. Prior to coming to Case, Levy served as the Assistant Curator for Collections & Academic Programs at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, and as the Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Prints, Drawings & Photographs at the Baltimore Museum of Art. He was a contributing author for the journal Art in Print. Levy was the Co-Director of the 2012 and 2015 Baltimore Contemporary Print Fairs, and serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tamarind Institute, University of New Mexico. A 2009 graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, Levy studied printmaking, book arts, and photography, gaining collaborative printmaking experience at Harlan & Weaver, Inc. and Dieu Donné in New York.
Susana Montanes-Lleras is a second-year PhD student working with Professors Henry Adams and Andrea Rager on late nineteenth and early twentieth century European and American art. Her research interests center on the mechanically printed illustrated book as a work of art, in particular the relation between text and image, the contributions of the illustrations to the narrative and its interpretation, and the relationship with other visual representations of the story and the artistic and intellectual movements of the time. Susana earned her bachelor’s degree in Languages and Socio-cultural Studies from Universidad de los Andes in her native Bogotá, Colombia, and then moved to Germany to complete an MA in World Heritage Studies at the Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus. She later worked as a translator and was employed with several heritage preservation organizations before moving to New York in 2016 to complete her second MA, this time in Art History, at the Institute of Fine Arts (NYU). During her studies, she also worked as a curatorial intern in the Pre-War Department of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Before she came to Cleveland she worked as a Project Officer for the art department of the British Council.
Reed O’Mara is a first-year PhD student and Mellon Fellow who focuses on the art of medieval Germany. Reed, advised by [saintly] Professor Elina Gertsman, graduated from CWRU with a M.A. in art history in 2020. Her primary research interests lie in Jewish illuminated manuscripts, mysticism, and the reception of medieval art, as well as the global turn in the study of the Middle Ages. Her article “‘On Golden Tablets’: The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Manuscript as a Self-Referential Icon” appeared this year in the journal Religions as a part of the special issue Seeing and Reading: Art and Literature in Pre-Modern Indian Religions. Reed has presented papers at various conferences, including the International Congress on Medieval Studies and SECAC. She was a co-chair for the 45th Annual Cleveland Symposium and was awarded the Graduate Student Appreciation Award from the School of Graduate Studies in 2019 and 2020. Reed has also been the recipient of the Friends of Art Best Paper by a Master’s Student Award and the Rare Book School’s Philip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts Scholarship.
Shirley Pan is a first-year PhD student studying medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. She is interested in late medieval sculpture and its relationship to the pictorial arts during the time when oil painting began to gain supremacy over the plastic arts. After receiving her undergraduate degree in art history from NYU, Shirley completed an MA in Art History and Religion at Yale University where she was the Arts editor for the Institute of Sacred Music Literary Journal Letters. She has also worked as a curatorial intern in the Drawings and Prints department at the Morgan Library & Museum as well as in the manuscripts department at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
Lauryn Smith is a fifth-year doctoral student specializing in early modern Netherlandish paintings and global decorative arts under the supervision of Professor Catherine B. Scallen. Her dissertation examines the cabinets of Amalia van Solms-Braunfels, Princess of Orange (1602-1675), to illuminate instances of innovation and exchange in her collecting practices and patronage. She presented her research at the Dressing the Early Modern Network Conference at the Abegg-Stiftung (Switzerland), SECAC, ACMRS, and Netherlandish Society for Seventeenth-Century Studies conferences. Additionally, Lauryn co-organized an international music and visual culture conference at the University of Toronto in 2016. She has received several grants, including an Eva L. Pancoast Memorial Fellowship, The Society for The Study of Early Modern Women and Gender Graduate Award, and a Samuel H. Kress Foundation Fellowship. Lauryn completed internships in North America and the UK at the Cuming Museum (London), Christie’s (Toronto), and the Cleveland Museum of Art, among others. In 2017, Lauryn co-founded a now international technical art history collaboration that spans four institutions (CWRU, CIA, CMA, and Factum Arte) and was one of 17 projects funded by the CWRU’s Provost’s Office (2019). Lauryn currently resides in the Netherlands with Dr. Michael McMaster (Physics), her husband and occasional collaborator.
Sam Truman is a third-year doctoral student studying medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. Her research centers on fear, the macabre, and representations of the unrepresentable. Sam is particularly interested in exploring visual depictions of ghosts in their various manifestations. She has recently presented at the University of Oregon’s Art History Student Association Symposium, and in 2019 she was awarded the Friends of Art Best Paper by a PhD Student Award. Beginning in Fall 2020, Sam will be the curatorial intern for the Indian and Southeast Asian Art department at the Cleveland Museum of Art under the supervision of Dr. Sonya Rhea Mace. She will also serve as a 2020-2021 representative of the Graduate Art History Association. Sam received her MA in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago in 2018. She has previously worked as an intern for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Angelica Verduci is a fourth-year doctoral student in medieval art working with Professor Elina Gertsman. Angelica’s research interests lie at the intersections of macabre and eschatological imagery, performance, pastoral theology, and vernacular culture. Angelica received her M.A. in Art History at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, and a diploma in Archive Administration, Paleography and Diplomatics from the Milan Archivio di Stato. In 2018, Angelica co-chaired the 44th Cleveland Symposium, and was a teaching assistant for Art History 101, for which she received the 2019 Graduate Dean’s Instructional Excellence Award. In 2019, her blog entry “Abstraction/Geometry/Interaction” was published with “Abstraction before the Age of Abstract Art,” a joint research project between CWRU and the ÉHÉSS (Paris). Angelica served as one of the 2019-20 representatives of the Graduate Art History Association (GAHA), and worked as an intern in the CMA Department of Prints and Drawings under the supervision of Dr. Emily Peters. In the Spring of 2020, Angie received the International Center of Medieval Art Travel Grant to fund a research trip for her dissertation on northern Italian “Triumph of Death” imagery. During summer of 2020, she is teaching Art History I: Pyramids to Pagodas at CWRU.
Bing Wang is a sixth-year PhD student who concentrates on global photography 1839–1939, with focus on East, South, and Southeast Asia. She is currently working on her dissertation, “William Pryor Floyd: The Art and Business of Photography in Nineteenth-Century Hong Kong,” with her advisor Professor Andrea Rager. In her third year, as a curatorial intern under the supervision of Dr. Barbara Tannenbaum, Curator of Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art, she worked on standardizing the terminology used to describe media/process in the CMA photographic collection and researched an album of photographs by one of the most celebrated 19th-century Indian photographers, Raja Deen Dayal (1844–1905). From her fourth year on, as a curatorial assistant in the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, she has been working on the upcoming exhibition on Chinese photography. After she earned a bachelor’s degree in Museology from China, she joined the Film and Photography Preservation and Collections Management (F+PPCM) Master of Arts, a collaborative program between Ryerson University, Toronto, and George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, and completed both the photography and film tracks. She has recently presented her research at the annual conferences of the Midwest Art History Society and of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association. (LinkedIn page: www.linkedin.com/in/bing-wang-35a51866)
Mackenzie Clark is a second-year MA student in Art History and a Keithley Fellow. Her primary research interests include devotional art and cross-cultural interaction in the early modern Mediterranean, with secondary interests in issues of the body and identity in global contemporary art. Mackenzie graduated summa cum laude from The College of Wooster with a BA in Art History and English in 2019. There, she was awarded the Netta Strain Scott Prize in Art History and received departmental honors for her senior thesis, “Liminal Souls, Liminal Bodies: Michelangelo’s Non-Finito and the Poetics of Liberation.” Mackenzie has worked as a curatorial intern at the Akron Art Museum, and as a museum research and evaluation intern at the Canton Museum of Art. She is currently serving as a co-chair for the 46th Annual Cleveland Symposium.
Shayla Croteau is a first-year MA student and a Barbato Fellow in Art History. She is interested in the Early Modern period, particularly in the intersections of anatomy and depiction of the human figure in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art. Shayla graduated with high honors from Michigan State University’s Residential College in the Arts and Humanities in 2019, earning a BA in Arts and Humanities with minors in Art History and Museum Studies. She worked as a publications intern at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, MI and co-curated the Broad Art Lab’s inaugural exhibition, Mining the Collection. She also served as president of the MSU Art History Association.
Katie DiDomenico is a second-year MA student and Barbato Fellow in Art History and Museum Studies. She received an MA in Spanish from the University of Akron in 2011 and taught Spanish for 7 years at the College of Wooster before returning to graduate school. Her primary field of interest is global exchange and the mobility of objects in late medieval and early modern art. Katie is a co-chair for this year’s Cleveland Symposium Bodily Realities: Engaging the Discourse of Dis/Ability. This past summer, she worked as a digital content creator for the Akron Art Museum, researching objects and writing entries for their online collection database and outreach programs. In her free time, Katie enjoys traveling, bike riding, and hiking.
Laurén Kozlowski is a first-year student in the Art History and Museum Studies program. Her interests lie in the Early Modern and Classical periods, predominantly in the impact of the archaeological findings of Greek and Roman objects during the Renaissance. Laurén graduated from the College of Wooster in 2020, earning a BA in both Art History and Archaeology with minors in Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Studio Art. She served as president of the Art History and Museum Studies Club, and the Archaeology Student Colloquium. Laurén was inducted as a member of the National Anthropology Honors Society, Lambda Alpha. She has volunteered at the Wayne County Historical Society and worked as a Collections. Management Intern at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Jessica Long is a first-year MA student in the Art History & Museum Studies program, and a CMA fellow. She graduated with high honors from the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College in 2020, earning a BA in Art History, minors in History, Studio Art, and Business Administration, and a Museum Studies Certificate. Jessica’s research interests include feminist and queer representation, colonialism and exploitation, body politics, and contemporary intersectionality. At OU, her senior thesis focused on the history of women in the tattoo industry and the changing cultural symbolism of the tattoo, specifically on female bodies. Jessica interned with Art-Bridge NYC, worked as the assistant preparator at the Kennedy Museum of Art, and was gallery director for the Undergraduate Art League’s student-run gallery, Cube 4. In her free time, Jessica enjoys crafting, skating, and getting tattooed.
Cameron McConnell is a first-year Art History MA student and a Keithley Fellow. She is primarily interested in the intersection of politics and religion in the medieval world and the development and veneration of religious imagery. Her secondary interests include the semiotics of architecture and hagiographic iconography. She graduated with distinction from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Art History and Markets & Culture. At SMU, her senior thesis focused on the shifts in types of funding at the Metropolitan Museum of Art over sixty years. Cameron was also a member of the Meadows Museum Student Collective and worked to raise awareness of the collection on campus. In her free time, Cameron enjoys singing and traveling.
Annapoorna Moore is a second-year Art History MA student and a Barbato Fellow. She is interested in medieval material culture as well as issues of art and theology, and the translation of iconography across cultural borders in the Middle Ages. She earned her BA in Humanities with a minor in Applied Mathematics from Florida State University. As an intern for the Grove Museum during the summer of 2020, she completed a research project on the writings of Caroline Mays Brevard and aided in archival research for the museum. Annapoorna is the graduate student coordinator for Mean Green STEM Machine and CWRU. In her free time, Annapoorna enjoys playing music.
Julie Polsinelli is a first-year student and Barbato Fellow in the MA Art History and Museum Studies program. Her focus is modern and contemporary art, exploring identity through race and gender. She earned a BA in Art History (magna cum laude) from the Myers School of Art and Williams Honors College at the University of Akron. There, Julie became the first undergraduate student to curate an exhibition at the Emily Davis Gallery, The Works of Harriet Sophia Phillips. She went on to work at the Akron Art Museum, supporting the Executive and Curatorial departments for two years before deciding to return to graduate school. Julie is also an avid amateur baker and vintage enthusiast.
Sydney Slacas is a second-year student in the MA Art History and Museum Studies program as well as a third-year JD student at the School of Law. She earned a BA in Painting and Drawing with a minor in Art History from the South Carolina School of the Arts. In the summer of 2020 she was the legal intern for the International Foundation for Art Research. Her research interests include art and museum law as well as modern and contemporary art history. She is active in both the law school and art history communities, serving as a student representative in both schools as well as an executive board member for the Sports and Entertainment Law Society.
Kali Steinberg is a second-year MA student in the Art History and Museum Studies program, and a CMA Fellow. Last year, she was a curatorial intern in the department of American Painting and Sculpture where she performed research for the upcoming show Strangely Familiar: American Magic Realist Painting 1940-1965. Her research interests include cross-cultural exchange in the Middle Ages, the phenomenology of Byzantine liturgical objects, and the notion of hybrid identity in contemporary art. As an aspiring museum professional, she hopes to explore the difficulties of exhibiting medieval and Byzantine objects outside of their original settings and the ethical responsibilities of art museums. She graduated magna cum laude from Lawrence University with a BA in Art History and has interned at various art institutions, including the National Museum of Women in the Arts and The Kreeger Museum. In her free time, Kali enjoys listening to music and watching baseball.
Courtney Toelle is a second-year Art History and Museum Studies MA student and a Keithley Fellow. Additionally, she is interested in the social responsibilities of museums. She earned her BA in Art History with a minor in Nonprofit Management from the University of Central Florida. While there, she worked at the Special Collections and University Archives. This past summer, she was the Family Programs intern at the Harn Museum of Art where she worked with a team to create activities for families to engage with the museum from home.
Dominique DeLuca is a specialist in medieval art, who received her PhD in 2020, after defending a dissertation that explored the images of shadows in fifteenth-century secular manuscripts,” In 2016, she published “Bonum est mortis meditari: Meanings and Functions of the Medieval Double Macabre Portrait,” in a volume edited by Albrecht Classen, Death in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times: The Material and Spiritual Conditions of the Culture of Death, and contributed two catalogue entries to the Myth and Mystique: Cleveland’s French Gothic Table Fountain exhibition catalogue edited by Elina Gertsman and Stephen Fliegel. Dominique has worked extensively with objects and staff from the Cleveland Museum of Art. She was a curatorial intern in the Indian and Southeast Asian Art department where she was involved in the development of the 2016 exhibition Art and Stories from Mughal India and its catalogue, and a curatorial intern with the department of Medieval Art. In 2018, she participated in the Mellon Summer Institute in French Paleography at the Newberry Library, and was a recipient of the Etienne Gilson Dissertation Grant from the Medieval Academy of America. In 2019-20 she was a Mellon Fellow in the Department of Education and Academic Affairs at the CMA.
Kylie Fisher is a specialist in early modern Italian art. Her dissertation, partially supported by the Walter Read Hovey Memorial Fund scholarship from The Pittsburgh Foundation, explored the formidable role that engravings played in how ancient Rome was understood, imagined, and remembered in the sixteenth century. Kylie has held several museum internships, including one in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where she researched the permanent collection of Italian drawings. She also worked as the IFPDA Foundation Curatorial Intern at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, where she helped to organize the centennial show, A Century of Women in Prints, 1917-2017 as well as Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings, for which she contributed to the exhibition catalogue. Kylie has presented her research at the annual conferences of the Midwest Art History Society and Sixteenth Century Society and Conference. Her article, “Drawing from Mantegna: Engaging with Engraving in Cinquecento Northern Italian Art,” was published in Athanor 35.
Mia Hafer received her MA in Art History in 2020. She will be pursuing her PhD in medieval art at the University of Kansas with Anne D. Hedeman. Her research interests include representations of identity and otherness, and how markers of gender, sexuality, religion, and nationality inform medieval secular imagery. Her qualifying paper on medieval ivory won the Friends of Art Best MA Paper Award in 2020. Mia has previously served as the Collections Management intern for the CWRU Putnam Sculpture Collection. In her spare time she enjoys painting, trying new foods, and attempting to train her various animals.
Erica Spilger received her MA in Art History and Museum Studies in 2020. Her interests include cross cultural exchanges of people, ideas, and objects, and the power dynamics at hand in the Spanish colonization of the Americas and Asia. Erica received her BA in Art History from Ohio University through the Honors Tutorial College. For her undergraduate thesis, she curated an exhibition titled “Expression and Repression: Contemporary Art Censorship in America” at the Kennedy Museum of Art in Athens, Ohio. As a CMA Fellow, she has worked with the museum’s photography curator Barbara Tannenbaum; her projects have entailed researching and entering data for new acquisitions, dating works in the collection, and writing fun facts about objects for the museum’s website.
Rebecca Woodruff received her MA in the Art History and Museum Studies program in 2020. Rebecca is primarily interested in examining the long eighteenth century through the lenses of material culture, reception theory, and social history. In addition to her current internship at the Cleveland Museum of Art, she has also worked as a curatorial intern for the Cleveland History Center’s costume collection and the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan. She has also interned as a content researcher for Enfilade, the serial newsletter for Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art & Architecture, and she served as a co-chair for the 45th Annual Cleveland Symposium. Rebecca has presented a number of conference papers, including “Empathetic Confrontations: David, Kauffman, and Homeric Narratives” at the Midwest Art History Society in Cleveland.