Current Graduate Students Bios

 

Ph.D. Students

Zoe Appleby is a third-year doctoral student studying medieval and Byzantine art history with Professors Elizabeth Bolman and Elina Gertsman. She concentrates on sites of crossculturalism in the medieval Mediterranean world. Her research focuses on materiality, environmental studies, and community identity in Byzantine and medieval Italy. Zoe was awarded the 2024 Friends of Art Best Doctoral Student Paper prize for her work on Ravenna and its aqueous environment. She held the position of co-chair for the 2024 Cleveland Symposium and currently serves as an Engagement Officer on the BSANA Graduate Committee. In addition to organizing events, Zoe has presented her own papers at multiple conferences including the 2024 Vagantes Conference and the Association for Art History Conference in Bristol that same year. She holds an MA in medieval art history from UC Riverside, where she worked with Professor Conrad Rudolph on the aesthetic philosophy of Augustine of Hippo. In her third year at Case Western Reserve University, she is occupied by comprehensive exam preparations and an internship at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Tess Artis is a second-year doctoral student studying medieval devotional art with Professor Elina Gertsman. She graduated with her MA in Art History in 2021 from the University of South Florida where she remained to teach undergraduate courses before deciding to pursue her doctorate. In the fall of 2022 she presented her paper, “Unutterable and Raging Desire: The Bride of Christ and the Canticum Canticorum,” at the annual SECAC conference in Baltimore. Her research interests include devotional manuscripts and incunabula, monasticism, mystical marriage imagery, women and gender, and the intersections of spirituality and sexuality in medieval Europe. After a happily misspent youth, Tess accepted her vocation as an art historian after a memorable trip to Italy during which she lectured her long-suffering family all the way from the Amalfi coast to Venice.

Claudia Haines is a second-year doctoral student studying medieval art and architecture with Professor Elina Gertsman. Her research interests include medieval illuminated manuscripts, spanning both the Western and Byzantine traditions, as well as the intersection of medieval art history and museum studies. Claudia earned her MA in Art History and Museum Studies from Tufts University, where she studied under Professors Christina Maranci and Alice Sullivan. She has recently presented papers at the 58th International Congress on Medieval Studies and the 47th St. Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies. During her time at Tufts, Claudia also served as a research assistant at the Tufts University Art Galleries, where she contributed to the fall 2021 exhibition “Connecting Threads / Survivor Objects.” She also served as a co-organizer for the session “Digital Medievalism” at the Association for Art History Annual Conference, held at University College London in April 2023. A Pennsylvania native, Claudia holds a BA in Art History from the University of Pittsburgh. Outside the classroom, she enjoys dancing, going to concerts, and spending time with her cat.

Rebekkah Hart is a third-year doctoral student studying late medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. She received her MA in Art History from University of California, Riverside, where she studied late medieval alabaster sculpture. Rebekkah recently presented papers at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo and the ARDS Colloquium on Current Research in Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture in Paris. Her first publication, “Powders and Plasters: Alabaster and the Curative Consumption of Holy Medieval Sculpture,” is slated to appear in the postprint volume of the Paris ARDS conference. Her research interests include the role of sensorial reception, performativity, and materiality in late medieval devotional imagery. She also finds herself drawn towards art historical and archeological approaches to medieval graffiti and the medical humanities. In 2023 she served as the co-chair for the 49th Annual Cleveland Symposium, “Surface Tension: Water, Waterways, and Art.”

Luke Hester is a second-year doctoral student studying Byzantine art history with Professor Elizabeth Bolman. He received his MA in Art History from Case Western Reserve University. He has also worked with Professor Elina Gertsman on topics in later medieval art including the materiality of Byzantine micromosaics held in Western collections and an ecocritical reading of Hildegard of Bingen’s illuminated Scivias. For the latter subject Luke won the Friends of Art Best MA Paper Award with his Qualifying Paper, “Greening Power.” His interests lie in late antique and early medieval Christian visual culture of the eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa. He is currently studying the mosaic decoration of early Christian baptisteries and churches near Carthage, investigating these spaces as sites of identity formation. While interning at the Cleveland Museum of Art, he worked under Gerhard Lutz on the upcoming reinstallation of the late antique, early medieval, and Byzantine galleries. Luke also serves as the Secretary of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America’s Graduate Committee and as Vice-President of Finance for CWRU’s Graduate Association of Medieval Studies. More likely than not, you will find him in a local coffee shop sipping a cortado or tending to the garden.

Anthony Huffman is a first-year doctoral student studying nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American art with Professor Andrea Rager. His research interests include links between the history of the decorative, murals, ornamentation, and abstraction; craft traditions; notions of framing and perception; public art, architecture, and spatial politics; eco-criticism; and art theory and historiography. In varying discursive formats, he has probed these topics through exhibitions, catalogue texts, public programs, reviews, and critical essays. Anthony has published in several leading publications for modern and contemporary art, including ArtforumArt Monthly, and The Brooklyn Rail. He has presented at many interdisciplinary conferences, such as the annual conferences of the Midwest Art History Society and the Society for French Historical Studies. His scholarship has been supported through grants and residencies from the Knight Foundation, the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, Phi Beta Kappa, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Prior to Case, he worked as a researcher for Hauser & Wirth and served as Curator-in-Residence at Kunstraum Gallery in New York, where he organized Chronologies and Circumstances (2021) and Historiographical Interventions (2022). Anthony graduated cum laude from Centre College in 2014 with a BA in Government and holds an MA in Art History from CWRU.

 

Cecily Hughes is a third-year doctoral student studying with Professor Elina Gertsman. With an avid interest in Scandinavian medieval art, she is especially drawn to the wit and humor with which medieval makers imbued their objects. Recently, she has presented papers at the the NLHF Medieval Animals Heritage Conference at Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK and at the Midwest Art History Society’s 50th Annual Conference in Chicago. Cecily served as the 2023-2024 president of the university’s Graduate Association of Medieval Studies, and this year she is honored to act as co-chair of the 50th Annual Cleveland Symposium, “Moments, Intervals, Epochs: Time in the Visual Arts.” Cecily holds an MFA in Contemporary Visual Culture from the University of Edinburgh. In 2022, she received her MA in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her previous work includes positions at Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, Scotland. Cecily loves teaching and making medieval art accessible to all, adores dogs, enjoys swimming, and tolerates bad puns.

Alexandra Kaczenski is a sixth-year PhD candidate studying late medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. Her research focuses on the medieval body and devotional practice, as well as on arts of the long nineteenth century. Alex is currently a Curatorial Assistant at the Norton Simon Museum assisting with the publication of their Northern European Paintings Catalogue and co-curating a forthcoming exhibition. Last year she served as their Curatorial Intern in 2022-2023, during which she curated the exhibition Word as Image. Previously, she was the Curatorial Intern for the Medieval Art Department at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2020-2021), and the Chair the Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies (2022-2023). Prior to Cleveland, she worked as both a Curatorial Graduate Intern and a Curatorial Assistant in the Manuscripts Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum. 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 received her MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art (2013).

Jillian Kruse is a fourth-year PhD student studying nineteenth-century European art with Professor Andrea Rager. Her research interests include late nineteenth-century collaborative and experimental printmaking, early photography, materiality and intermediality, history of collecting, global Impressionism, and ecocriticism. 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 WarsJillian has also held positions at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the National Gallery of Ireland. She has publishedon the collecting craze for French posters in the 1890s in Art in Print, presented on the art of John Ruskin at the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association conference,and was awarded a Getty research grant for her work on the prints of Camille Pissarro. Jillian also currently serves as a curatorial intern in Prints and Drawings at the Cleveland Museum of Art and as the Assistant Bibliographer for the Print Council of America’s Oeuvre Catalogue project.

Benjamin Levy

Benjamin Levy is a sixth-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.

Marina Mandrikova is a Ph.D. student studying Byzantine visual culture with Professor Elizabeth S. Bolman. Her research explores the images of the damned in Byzantine, post-Byzantine, and Slavic monumental painting, and the nature of their sins, crimes, and punishments. Marina is also passionate about the conservation and preservation of medieval art and architecture. She was a 2020-2021 Graduate Student Fellow of the American Institute for Southeast European Studies and recently completed the ASCSA’s M. Alison Frantz Fellowship in Post-Classical Studies at the Gennadius Library that was held during the 2021-2022 academic year in Athens, Greece. She taught various undergraduate art history courses at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University, and completed museum internships in Russia and Bulgaria. She co-organized two graduate student workshops for the Delaware Valley Medieval Association and presented papers at the DVMA meeting for graduate students and the Byzantine Studies Conferences. Marina transferred to CWRU from Temple University where she started her Ph.D. journey at the Department of Art History under the guidance of Doctor Bolman. Before that, she lived in Russia, where she earned her MA degrees in World Art History and International Relations from the St. Petersburg State University.

Susana Montanes-Lleras is a Ph.D. candidate working with professors Henry Adams and Andrea Rager on European and American art in the long 19 th century, with a focus on book illustration at the turn of the 20 th century. Her research interests include Victorian and Edwardian art, the trans-Atlantic influence of Pre-Raphaelitism, the history of the book, and text and image relations and intertextuality in book illustration. Susana earned her bachelor’s degree from Universidad de los Andes in her natal Bogotá, Colombia, where she majored in Languages and Sociocultural Studies and minored in Art. She also has an MA in World Heritage Studies from B-TU Cottbus, Germany, and a second MA, in Art History, from the Institute of Fine Arts (NYU). She has worked with several heritage preservation institutions, as an independent translator, as a Project Officer for the art department of the British Council, and as a curatorial intern at the Whitney Museum of Art. Last year she was a curatorial intern at the Department of Prints and Drawings of the Cleveland Museum of Art where she cataloged the museum’s collection of prints by Daumier and worked on an exhibition on literary illustrations at the CMA that will open in 2024.

Reed O’Mara, advised by Professor Elina Gertsman, is a fifth-year PhD candidate and Mellon Fellow who focuses on the arts of medieval Germany. Her dissertation considers word and image relationships in Jewish illuminated manuscripts, ca. 1200-1500, with an emphasis on issues of identity and performance. Starting fall 2023, Reed will serve as the curatorial intern in the Manuscripts Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. From 2022-23, Reed also interned in the Department of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Reed has published in several peer-reviewed venues, and has presented papers and organized sessions at various conferences, including the Forum Kunst des Mittelalters, the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, and the Medieval Academy of America (MAA). She served as Chair of the Graduate Student Committee of the MAA 2022-23 and was the Mentorship and Professionalization Coordinator for the Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies Board of Directors 2021-23. Reed taught Art History 101: Pyramids to Pagodas in summer 2021 and fall 2023.

Madeline Newquist is a third-year doctoral student studying with Professors Maggie Popkin and Elizabeth Bolman. Her research is currently focused on exploring cultural exchange and appropriation through the lens of early medieval Italian and Byzantine art. Madeline received dual bachelor of art degrees in Studio Art and History from Indiana University in 2018, and graduated again from IU with Masters in Arts Administration and Curatorial Studies in 2021. She has spent several years working with museums in southern Indiana, including the Mathers Museum of World Culture and the Eskenazi Museum of Art. Madeline has an avid interest in the practice of making art and continues to develop her own skills in the mediums of ceramics, drawing, and metalwork. In her free time, she enjoys writing, watching and critiquing films, and traveling as much as she can.

Clara Pinchbeck is a third-year doctoral student studying Late Antique Eastern Mediterranean art with Professor Elizabeth S. Bolman. She is interested in the material culture of Late Antique interior spaces, the transmission and trade of textiles and looms along the Silk Road(s), late Roman information technologies, and the application of digital methods to analyze early Eastern Byzantine histories. Her research primarily focuses on Late Antique Egyptian textiles and their roles within the religious, cultural, political, economic, and geographic networks of the Eastern Mediterranean. In Summer 2023, Pinchbeck joined Professor Maggie Popkin as a part of a global, interdisciplinary archaeological project in Greece, where she took part in American Excavations at Samothrace for seven weeks. Pinchbeck received her BA in Art History and Anthropology from Kenyon College in 2018 and her MA in Digital Art History from Duke University in 2020.

Claire Sumner is a third-year doctoral student studying Italian renaissance art with Professor Erin Benay. She received her MA from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020. Her thesis was entitled Canonizing Zuccaro: The Early Life of Taddeo Series and the Building of an Artistic Legacy. It focuses on Federico Zuccaro’s attempt to control his elder brother Taddeo’s narrative and establish a familial legacy amongst the developing politics of art in 16th Century Rome. Her current research interests focus on the large-scale terracotta sculptures of the Emilia Romagna region and the relationship between material and subject.

Arielle Suskin is a third-year PhD student studying Greek and Roman art and archaeology with Dr. Maggie Popkin. Her research focuses on image replication and distribution of Roman portraits, ancient processes of artmaking, and the lives of ancient artisans. She is a member of the excavation team and Registrar for the American Excavations Samothrace 2023. Beginning in the fall, Arielle will be the curatorial intern in the department of Greek and Roman Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art supervised by Dr. Seth Pevnick. She presented her paper “Artisan Vases from Late Archaic and Early Classical Athens: Mimesis, Material, and Community” at the Archaeological Institute of America 2023 Annual Meeting. She is a member of the 2022 Summer Institute for Technical Studies in Art (SITSA) cohort at the Harvard Art Museums and a 2017 Scholar-in-Residence at the Paestum Archaeological Park with the Newington-Cropsey Foundation Archaeological Program in Paestum. She holds an MA from the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU and a BA cum laude from Tulane University.

 

 

Rachel Sweeney is a first-year doctoral student studying medieval art and architecture with Professor Elina Gertsman. Her research interests focus on images from medieval Britain and Ireland, and include identity and the body, (dis)embodiment, the intersection of ritual and natural landscapes, and how the pagan past is carried into, characterized by, and remodeled in the later Middle Ages. She earned her MA in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she researched Celtic imagery depicting the human head. She also holds dual BA degrees in History and Art History from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Recently, she has presented papers at the 2024 Celtic Studies Association of North America Conference and the 2024 Performing Magic in the Pre-Modern North Conference.

Sam Truman is a PhD candidate studying medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. Sam is currently in the process of writing her dissertation, which focuses on representations of ghosts in northern European manuscripts produced between approximately 1100 and 1500. Recently, she was awarded the Byzantine Studies Conference Graduate Student Paper prize for her paper, “‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’: The Execution of Judas Iscariot in Two Byzantine Marginal Psalters.” Sam has previously held internships at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She is currently serving as the 2023–2025 Samuel H. Kress Institutional Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

 

 

M.A. Students

Megan Alves is a second-year Art History MA student and Barbato Fellow with a passion for incorporating art history into community-based, socially engaged museum practices. She graduated from Oberlin College with Honors and BAs in Art History and Comparative Literature. Her interests include the study of modern and contemporary American and European art, particularly the depiction of the body and the representation of marginalized people. Alves is a seven-year veteran of the museum sector where she held a variety of positions including Collections Assistant and Marketing and Program Manager. In 2022, Alves served as Chief Curator for W/O Limits: Art, Chronic Illness, & Disability which received the Ohio Museum Association’s Best Exhibition and Best Community Partnership (Under $500,000) Awards.

Allison Boroff is a first-year Art History and Museum Studies student and a Keithley Fellow. She graduated from Florida State University (FSU) with a double major in Studio Art and Art History, and a Museum Studies minor. She is interested in late antique and medieval studies, and particularly in the interactions between people and venerated art objects. Allison presented her research paper on Byzantine micromosaics, “From Public to Private: Framing Icons to Change their Function,” at FSU’s 2023 Art History Undergraduate symposium. In the summer of 2024, Allison completed a hybrid museum and field internship excavating Etruscan, Roman, and medieval artifacts in Tuscany. This internship culminated in the opening of her co-curated exhibition in Florence, showcasing the artifacts and research of this excavation site.

Sydney Collins is a second-year masters student and a Barbato Fellow. Her research interests lie in Late Antique and Early Christian art and architecture. She holds a BA in art history and biology from Ohio State University. Sydney has presented her undergraduate research at SUNY New Paltz, interned at the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, and currently works for the Cleveland Museum of Art. Last summer she attended an art conservation program through the Balkan Heritage Field School focusing on the late Roman Mosaics at Stobi. In her free time Sydney enjoys reading classic novels and painting.

Anna Farber is a first-year MA student and CMA Fellow pursuing a degree in medieval art history. She holds a BA from Oberlin College with high honors in art history for her thesis about Mary Magdalene’s relics and their effect on her role as a patron saint of the Angevin dynasty. She is interested in continuing to research relics through a disability studies lens. Her other research interests include medieval Jewish art, art as a tool in performance, and gaps and erasure in medieval art history. She has interned at the Met Cloisters, and worked at the Met Cloisters, Christie’s, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. 

Madalyn Fox is a first-year MA student in the Art History and Museum Studies program and a Barbato Fellow. A graduate of CWRU, she holds a BA with honors in Art History and Political Science. Her research interests lie primarily in public humanities and global contemporary art with a focus on identity, temporality, and ecocriticism. Her undergraduate honors thesis, “Ancestral Temporalities: Indigenous Futurism in the Art of Rose B. Simpson,” will be excerpted in Cleveland Art in July 2024. She also presented at the 2024 SUNY New Paltz Symposium. In summer 2024, she was the Nord Fellow in Museum Interpretation at the CMA, where she has served as the Stewardship Intern in the past.

Sarah Frisbie is a second-year MA student and Barbato Fellow studying late medieval art history, with an interest in objects that convey theology through materiality. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she holds a BFA in Art History and BA in Global Studies. Recently, she was awarded the Pancoast Memorial Fellowship for research travel to Lyon and the MAA/CARA Summer Scholarship to study Medieval Latin. In 2021, she presented her field research in La Rochelle on the medieval graffiti of the Palais des Papes, Avignon. She has interned at Sam Fogg, Saatchi Gallery, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. In her free time, she enjoys climbing, water polo, painting, and cooking for friends.

Lachelle Guardia de Diego is a first-year Art History MA student and Barbato Fellow studying with Professor Maggie Popkin. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a BA in Integrative Studies combining history, art history, and applied art. Her research seeks to interrogate dominant historical narratives and elucidate the lives of gladiators, charioteers, and other entertainers in Ancient Rome. She is also interested in the intersection of art, food, and imperialism from antiquity to the Renaissance, with emphases on the communication of exotic flavor profiles and on representations of culinary and viticultural labor. Lachelle is an independently published author of speculative fiction. In her free time, she enjoys writing, drawing, cooking, and studying Latin.

Darren Helton is a second-year Art History MA student and Barbato Fellow. He graduated summa cum laude from East Tennessee State University in Spring 2023 with BA degrees in Art History and History. He is interested in religious architecture, particularly from Late Classical and Early Medieval Byzantium, and how a space and the objects within it materialize the immaterial. He is also interested in how Christians navigated and adapted art of other religious cultures to their needs. Darren has spent time working in the collections of the Reece Museum, and he enjoys sketching and listening to music in his free time.

Sara Miller is a second-year Art History MA student and Cleveland Museum of Art fellow. She graduated cum laude with BA degrees in Art History and Anthropology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her senior thesis explored the evolving role of the Etruscan psychopomp Vanth. Sara’s research interests include Etruscan, Greek, and Roman funerary assemblages, miniatures, and ritual space. She was recently awarded the Eva L. Pancoast Memorial Fellowship. This summer, she participated in the archaeological excavation at Samothrace. Sara is a Curatorial Intern at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Previously, she worked at the Glen Echo Art Gallery and the Michelle Smith Collaboratory for Visual Culture. In her free time, Sara writes fantasy stories using fountain pens.

Tara Smith is a first-year MA student in the Art History program. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Toledo with a BA in English Literature and Art History in 2023. Her senior undergraduate thesis earned the Dean’s Essay Prize for Long Prose and she completed a research internship with the Colnaghi Gallery in Madrid during Summer 2023. Tara is interested in modern and contemporary American art, as well as the art of the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America—including their colonial relationship. Thematically, her research interests include gender, race, and the use of written word in visual art. A music lover, she enjoys playing violin and guitar in her free time.

Alexandru Zaharia is a first-year Art History MA student and Barbato Fellow. He is interested in the artistic influences of medieval and early modern commercial and cultural networks in the Eastern Mediterranean. He has worked with the collection of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and has presented at several symposia. He received a BFA in Art History with Academic and Departmental Honors from MassArt, where he was a three-time Art History Excellence and Service Award recipient as well as an Honorary Faculty Member. Alexandru also holds a BS in Civil/Structural Engineering and has almost a decade of experience in that field. He enjoys photography and illustration in his spare time.