Current Graduate Students Bios

Ph.D. Students


Aimee Caya is a fourth-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 publications include “Carnal Consumption, Miraculous Deliverance: Saint Margaret and Caesarean Section in the Late Middle Ages,” which appeared in Glossolalia in 2016 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 her 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 curated a rotation of Iranian art that will be on view until November 2019. 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 for her dissertation, tentatively titled “Brazen Bodies: the Reception and Materiality of Monumental Brasses in Late Medieval England.”




Dominique DeLuca is a sixth-year Ph.D. student working with Professor Elina Gertsman, who has just defended her dissertation, “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. As a graduate student at CWRU, 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.  



Kylie Fisher is a fifth-year doctoral student and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow in early modern Italian art working with Professor Erin Benay.  Her current research explores the production and reception of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century secular prints with a focus on the relationship between classicizing imagery and memorial theory and practice in the early Cinquecento. Kylie has held several museum internships, most recently 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. Kylie Fisher received a scholarship award from the Walter Read Hovey Memorial Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation to help fund her dissertation research in Europe this summer. Kylie’s dissertation explores the formidable role that engravings played in how ancient Rome was understood, imagined, and remembered in the sixteenth century.


Russell David GreenRussell David Green is a second-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 current research interests lie in medieval image theory and the body, with a particular emphasis on the materiality and perception of blood. He hopes to explore these concepts in reference to wooden sculptures and reliquaries dating from the high and late Middle Ages. 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. During the summer of 2019, Russell taught the undergraduate course Art History I: Pyramids to Pagodas at Case Western Reserve University.






Gilbert Jones

Gilbert Jones is a third-year doctoral student studying late medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. He received his MA in Art History from Syracuse University in 2013 and a Graduate Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Texas Tech University. His primary research interest is the intersection of architecture, movement, and identity construction. He plans to explore the relationships between processional routes, miracle-working objects, and the late medieval cityscape. His article, “Edges and Borders in Trecento Italian Art: Pseudo-Kufic in Duccio’s Maestà,” is forthcoming from Brepols. Before coming to CWRU, Gilbert worked as the Docent Coordinator and Assistant Curator of Education at the Museum of Texas Tech. Gilbert currently serves on the Art History Graduate Mentor/Mentee Committee and is the co-chair of the department’s Lecture Committee. Gilbert has delivered papers at several conferences, including the International Congress on Medieval Studies and the Renaissance Society of America. In 2010, he founded the Graduate Student and Emerging Scholars committee of the Italian Art Society and later served on the board of the IAS as the Events and Membership Coordinator.


Alexandra Kaczenski

Alexandra Kaczenski is a second-year PhD student studying late medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. Her research interests include the intersection of manuscript illumination and print culture, devotional and collecting practices, and gender studies. 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. 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 curated an exhibition, Manuscripts in the Age of Print (2019), and was involved with various digitization and provenance projects. She received her MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2013, and has held positions at Bonhams Auctioneers, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the New Orleans Museum of Art, among others.





Benjamin Levy

Benjamin Levy is a second-year Ph.D. student working with Professors Andrea 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. 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. His essay “Visible and Easily Moved: Process and Authority in the work of Amze Emmons” is included in the 2019 exhibition catalog “Amze Emmons: Pattern Drift” opening at the Academy Art Museum with iterations at the Print Center and Richard M. Ross Art Museum. 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 Harland & Weaver, Inc. and Dieu Donné in New York.


Susana Montanes-Lleras is a first-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 comes to Cleveland from Bogotá, Colombia where she worked as a Project Officer for the art department of the British Council. She earned her bachelor degree in Languages and Socio-cultural Studies from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá and then moved to Germany to study an MA in World Heritage Studies at the Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus. She later worked as a translator, as well as 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.

Lauryn Smith is a fourth-year doctoral student who specializes in early modern Dutch and Flemish paintings and European decorative arts under the supervision of Professor Catherine B. Scallen. Lauryn’s current research interests include global trends of exchange and mobility; interrelationships among gender, patronage, and collecting; and the exploration of the boundary between fine and decorative arts. She presented her research at the Dressing the Early Modern Network Conference at the Abegg-Stiftung (Switzerland), SECAC, and ACMRS conferences. Additionally, Lauryn co-organized an international music and visual culture conference at the University of Toronto in 2016. Her research was funded by the Eva L. Pancoast Memorial Fellowship (2017), The Society for The Study of Early Modern Women and Gender Graduate Travel Award (2018), and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Fellowship for the Rijksmuseum/RKD Summer School (2019). Lauryn completed internships in North America and the UK, including at the Cuming Museum (London), Christie’s (Toronto), and the Cleveland Museum of Art. In 2019, Lauryn co-founded a technical art history collaboration that spans three institutions (CWRU, CIA, and CMA) and was one of 17 projects funded by the CWRU’s Provost’s Office. Lauryn will research in the Netherlands during the 2019-20 academic year.




Sam Truman

Sam Truman is a second-year doctoral student studying medieval art with Professor Elina Gertsman. Sam is interested in the tension which arises between humanity and divinity in scenes that depict the death of Christ. She is particularly interested in examining the role of the Virgin Mary as an archetype of grief in Lamentation scenes. Sam also studies the intersection of liturgical art and historical practice, specifically in regards to the practical function of altarpieces and reliquaries. She received her MA in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2018. Prior to coming to Case Western, Sam worked as an intern in the library and archives of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In this position, she wrote metadata for the digitized exhibition of Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection. She has also previously worked for the Oriental Institute Museum and the Archdiocese of Chicago.





Angelica Verduci is a third-year doctoral student in medieval art and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow working with Professor Elina Gertsman. Angelica’s work explores the intersections of macabre and eschatological imagery, performance, pastoral theology, and vernacular culture; her particular focus is on late medieval Italian frescoes depicting the Triumph of Death, the Dance of Death, and the Last Judgment. Angelica received both her B.A. and M.A. in Art History (cum laude) at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, and a diploma in Archive Administration, Paleography and Diplomatics from the Milan Archivio di Stato. Before moving to Cleveland, she worked as an intern at Capitolo Metropolitano of the Duomo of Milan, as well as at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. In 2018, Angelica co-chaired the 44th Cleveland Symposium entitled Built Environments and Performances of Power, and in 2019 was a recipient of the 2019 Graduate Dean’s Instructional Excellence Award. Recently, she contributed a blog entry, “Abstraction/Geometry/Interaction,” to the “Abstraction before the Age of Abstract Art,” a collaborative research project between Case Western Reserve University and the ÉHESS. Starting this fall, Angelica will be serving as a 2019-20 representative of the Graduate Art History Association, and will intern in the CMA Department of Prints and Drawings under the supervision of Dr. Emily Peters.




Bing Wang is a fifth-year Ph.D. student 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). In her fourth year, as a curatorial assistant in the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, she was involved in 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.





M.A. Students

Mackenzie Clark is a first-year MA student in Art History. Her research interests include devotional art, early modern Italy, and the global Renaissance. 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 on her senior thesis, “Liminal Souls, Liminal Bodies: Michelangelo’s Non Finito and the Poetics of Liberation.” In the summer of 2018, she served as a curatorial intern at the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio and a museum research and evaluation intern at the Canton Museum of Art in Canton, Ohio.



Katie DiDomenico is a first-year MA student and Barbato Fellow in Art History and Museum Studies. She earned a BA in Art History from the University of Akron in 2009, graduating summa cum laude, and then went on to receive an MA in Spanish from the same institution in 2011. For 8 years, Katie taught Spanish at the College of Wooster and the University of Akron before deciding to return to graduate school for art history. Her primary fields of interest include medieval and early modern European art, with a particular focus on representations of the body in the context of illness and medical practice. Katie has also worked in guest services at the Akron Art Museum and in her free time enjoys traveling, swing dancing, and exploring the beautiful Metro Parks in Northeast Ohio.




Mia Hafer

Mia Hafer is a second-year MA student in Art History and a Barbato Fellow particularly interested in medieval art. Her research interests include representations of identity and otherness, and how markers of gender, sexuality, religion, and nationality inform medieval secular imagery. She received her BA in art history and anthropology (magna cum laude) from Case Western Reserve University, where her paper “At Home, Abroad, and on the Wade Cup” received the Noah L. Butkin award from the Department of Art History and Art. 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 dog.






Annapoorna Moore is a first-year Art History MA student and a Barbato Fellow. She is interested in issues of art and theology, and the translation of iconography across cultural borders in the eastern Mediterranean medieval world. She earned her BA in Humanities with a minor in Applied Mathematics from the Florida State University. At FSU, Annapoorna presented at the Undergraduate Religion Symposium and was a member of the Medieval Studies Organization. In her free time, Annapoorna sings and plays violin in her band Blueberry Season.







Reed O’Mara is a second-year MA student and Barbato Fellow in Art History who focuses on the art of medieval Germany. Reed graduated summa cum laude at the University of Alabama with a B.A. in Foreign Languages and Literature and a B.S. in Economics in 2017. Her research interests include Jewish illuminated manuscripts, wooden devotional sculptures, and mysticism. She also has methodological interests in the materiality and reception of medieval art, as well as the “global turn” in the study of the Middle Ages. She has presented papers at various conferences, including the International Congress on Medieval Studies and SECAC. Reed is a co-chair for the 45th Annual Cleveland Symposium and was awarded the Graduate Student Appreciation Award and the inaugural Friends of Art Best Paper by a Master’s Student Award in May 2019. In her free time, Reed enjoys rock climbing and road biking.





Sydney Slacas is a first-year student in the MA Art History and Museum Studies program as well as a second-year JD student at the School of Law. She earned a BA in Painting and Drawing from the South Carolina School of the Arts. In the summer of 2015, Sydney had the opportunity to intern with the Costume Collection department of the Chicago History Museum. Her research interests lie in modern art from the late 19th century to the post-war 20th century. In her free time Sydney still loves to paint and draw as well as hang out with friends on her back porch, be active in the law school community, and drink as much coffee as she can get her hands on.






Erica Spilger

Erica Spilger is a second-year MA student in the Art History and Museum Studies program who concentrates on seventeenth century art. 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. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, doing puzzles, and playing piano.




Kali Steinberg is a first-year MA student in the Art History and Museum Studies program, and a CMA Fellow. She is primarily interested in cross-cultural exchange in the Middle Ages and how audiences have interpreted medieval art across time and place. Her secondary interest is modern European art, particularly artists’ reactions to the challenges of modernity. As an aspiring museum professional, she hopes to explore the difficulties of exhibiting medieval 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 2017, she curated an exhibition for the Wriston Art Center titled Mirth and Melancholy: The Circus in Modern Art. In her free time, Kali enjoys listening to music and watching baseball.





Courtney Toelle is a first-year Art History and Museum Studies MA student and a Keithley Fellow. Her focus is on Italian Mannerist Sculpture, with secondary interests in Classical mythology and in protective measures against art crime. Her research focuses on the perception of quality based on an artist’s politics, patronage, and placement of a work. She earned her BA in Art History with a minor in Nonprofit Management from the University of Central Florida. While there, Courtney worked at the Special Collections and University Archives. At the Special Collections and University Archives, she helped process and preserve several collections. In her free time, Courtney enjoys reading, catching up on her favorite Podcasts, and board games.






Rebecca Woodruff

Rebecca Woodruff is a second-year MA student and Barbato Fellow in the Art History and Museum Studies program. She earned her BA from Calvin University where she majored in Art History. 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 is serving 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.