Current Graduate Students Bios
Aimee Caya is a sixth-year doctoral candidate 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. Aimee has presented research at the Midwest Art History Society conference, the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, and the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. She has been a curatorial intern for the Islamic and Medieval art departments at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and taught at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art. She is currently writing her dissertation, entitled “Brazen Bodies: the Reception and Materiality of English Monumental Brasses, c. 1300-1540.” Her dissertation research has been supported by the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art, the International Center of Medieval Art, and the College of Arts and Sciences at CWRU. In 2021, Aimee enrolled in the Masters of Library and Information Science program at the University of South Carolina.
Russell David Green is a fourth-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 fourth-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 second-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, the 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 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. She has published on the collecting craze for French posters in the 1890s in Art in Print and was awarded a Getty research grant for her work on materiality and seriality in the prints of Camille Pissarro. Jillian also currently serves as the Assistant Bibliographer for the Print Council of America’s Oeuvre Catalogue project.
Benjamin Levy is a fourth-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 is a 2020-2021 Graduate Student Fellow of the American Institute for Southeast European Studies and was recently awarded the ASCSA’s M. Alison Frantz Fellowship in Post-Classical Studies at the Gennadius Library to be 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 Conference. 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 third-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 second-year PhD student and Mellon Fellow who focuses on the art of medieval Germany. Reed, advised by (the 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, the reception of medieval art, and 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 in 2020 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 the Medieval Academy of America. Reed currently serves on the Graduate Student Committee of the Medieval Academy of America, and she is also the Mentorship and Professionalization Coordinator for the Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies Board of Directors. She has been awarded the Graduate Student Appreciation Award from the School of Graduate Studies in 2019 and 2020, two Best Paper awards from the Friends of Art, and the Rare Book School’s Philip J. Pirages Fine Books and Manuscripts Scholarship. In the summer of 2021, Reed taught Art History 101: Pyramids to Pagodas.
Shirley Pan is a second-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.
Clara Pinchbeck is a first-year doctoral student studying Late Antique and Byzantine art with Professor Elizabeth S. Bolman. Her research interests center around the material culture of Late Antique and Byzantine imperial women, which offers insight into the construction of female identities. Clara aims to explore this through digital visual approaches to royal women who moved, gave gifts, and patronized spaces. She 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. At Duke, Clara was the Samuel H. Kress Digital Art History Graduate Fellow. Her thesis was entitled Embodied Objects: A Digital Exploration of Women, Space, and Power in the Monza Holy Land Ampullae. It focuses on a group of Late Antique pilgrim flasks and argues that the collection allowed its owner, the seventh century Lombard Queen Theodelinda, to exercise power through patronage. This past February, Clara presented her research on the Monza Holy Land Ampullae at the 109th College Art Association Annual Conference on the “Art Historical GIS: Mapping Objects, Artists, and Intellectual Exchange” panel.
Lauryn Smith is a sixth-year doctoral student specializing in early modern Netherlandish paintings and European decorative arts under the supervision of Professor Catherine B. Scallen. Her dissertation examines the cabinets of Amalia van Solms-Braunfels (1602-1675), Princess of Orange, to illuminate instances of innovation and exchange in her collecting practices and patronage. She presented her research internationally, including at the Dressing the Early Modern Network (Abegg-Stiftung, Switzerland), Association for Art History, and Netherlandish Society for Seventeenth-Century Studies conferences. Additionally, Lauryn co-organized numerous panels and conferences, notably an international music and visual culture conference at the University of Toronto (2016). Her research was supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Decorative Arts Trust, and the Historians of Netherlandish Art. An aspiring curator, Lauryn was selected for the 2021 CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice cohort. Additionally, she completed internships in North America and the UK at the Cuming Museum, Christie’s, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, among others. In 2017, she co-founded an international technical art history collaboration that was one of 17 projects funded by the CWRU’s Provost’s Office (2019). For the 2021-2022 academic year, Lauryn is the inaugural Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library Digital Art History Fellow.
Claire Sumner is a first-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 first-year PhD student studying Classical Art and Archaeology with Professor Maggie Popkin. Her interests include image replication and distribution of Roman Imperial portrait sculpture, ancient metallurgy, and classical art in the museum space. She was a Scholar-in-Residence with the Newington-Cropsey Foundation Archaeological Program in Paestum in 2017. She received her MA in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and her BA in Classical Studies and Studio Art from Tulane University. She received a Jane C. Waldbaum Archaeological Field School Scholarship and the Tulane Classics Department Classical Studies Prize in 2014. Outside of the museum and dig sites, she enjoys gardening, painting and all the puppies.
Sam Truman is a fourth-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 Rhie 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 fifth-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. 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 summers of 2020 and 2021, she taught Art History I: Pyramids to Pagodas and Art History II: Michelangelo to Maya Lin at Case Western Reserve University. She is currently writing her dissertation, entitled “Mors Triumphans in Medieval Italian Murals: From Allegory to Performance.” Her dissertation research is supported by the International Center of Medieval Art.
Bing Wang is a seventh-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)
Shayla Croteau is a second-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.
Grace Hanselman is a first-year MA student and Barbato Fellow in the Art History program. Her primary interests lie in the application of feminist and queer theory to the study of modern and contemporary art. She graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College in 2020, with a BA in Art History and Studio Art. As an intern at Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art, Grace curated her own exhibition titled The Butt of the Joke: Humor and the Human Body, informed by her academic interest in visual humor. In her spare time, Grace loves to make her own art, read fantasy novels, and pester her cat, Clementine.
Luke Hester is a first year Art History MA student and a CMA Fellow. He graduated from Kenyon College in 2020 with a BA in Art History and Studio Art, with a minor in Chemistry. His interests include eastern medieval art and eastern Christian art outside of the cultural center of Constantinople. Undergraduate work in the realm of collections and conservation at institutions such as the Columbus Museum of Art and the Georgia Archives has fueled an interest in material studies and the history of technique. When not walking around pondering ideas for a novel, you might find him preparing specialty coffee or sipping an espresso at the local cafe.
Katelyn Jones is a first-year Art History MA student who concentrates on the art of the long nineteenth century. Her research interests include the intersection of art and science, gender and sexuality, and exploring the ‘uncanny’. She earned a BA in Art History (summa cum laude) from the University of Oregon, where she completed an honors thesis focused on the visual and cultural similarities between John Singer Sargent’s portraits of aristocratic women and contemporaneous commercial mannequins. She is a former Oregon Humanities Undergraduate Research Fellow and a recipient of the Gloria Tovar Lee Scholarship for Promising Undergraduate Student in Art History. Katelyn spends her free time doting on her cat, taking long walks to the compost bin, and daydreaming.
Laurén Kozlowski is a second-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.
Sarah Lavin is a first year MA student in the Art History & Museum Studies program and a Keithley Fellow. She aims to enter the field of art conservation, with an interest in paintings and works on paper. Her research interests include the materiality, artistic process, and presentation of Early Modern artwork. She graduated from CWRU in 2021 with a dual degree in Chemistry (B.S.) and Art History along with a minor in Studio Art. While completing her undergraduate degree, she conducted research for a variety of projects concerning technical art history and conservation science. She also held an internship position at the Intermuseum Conservation Association.
Jessica Long a second-year MA student and Cleveland Museum of Art fellow studying Art History and Museum Studies with a focus in contemporary art at Case Western Reserve University. She earned a BA in Art History, minors in History, Studio Art, and Business Administration, and a Museum Studies Certificate from Ohio University in 2020. Jess’ research interests include identity politics, performativity, and popular culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. She is currently an intern at the Cleveland Museum of Art in the Contemporary Art Department under curator Emily Liebert. Jess is passionate about public engagement through the arts and dedicated to the mission of decolonizing cultural institutions.
Morgan McCommon is a first-year MA student and Barbato Fellow in Art History and Museum Studies. She graduated cum laude from Case Western in 2021, earning her B.A. in Art History and History. Her interests lie in ancient Roman art, particularly in portraiture and the curation of memory. While working closely with Dr. Maggie Popkin, she completed an honors thesis paper titled “Attack on Constantine: Vandalism on the Arch of Constantine,” for which she won the Baker-Nord Humanities Prize. Morgan has previously worked as a Student Guide at the Cleveland Museum of Art and as a Digital Humanities Intern, writing articles for Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. In her free time, she enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons.
Cameron McConnell is a second-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.
Emma Peters is a first year MA student in the Art History & Museum Studies program, and a second year JD student at the School of Law. She received her BA in Art History and Linguistics from Brandeis University. She became fascinated with the intersection of the arts and the law while working concurrently at the Rose Art Museum and a legal aid firm in Boston. Her research interests include Dutch golden age, folk art of the American South, and the role museums play in society. She is also interested in the legal implications of museum decolonization, provenance research, and collecting practices. While not toiling over her law school readings, Emma enjoys cooking, playing guitar, and taking advantage of free admission to the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Julie Polsinelli is a second-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.
Marina Savchenkova is a first-year MA student and a Barbato Fellow in Art History. She is interested in Western medieval art, particularly in perception, multi-sensory aesthetics, theology and visual arts, and performativity. Marina graduated with an MA in Public Relations from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), and studied theater history and theory at the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts. Before returning to graduate school, Marina worked in local charities in Saint Petersburg in Russia. Besides all things medieval, she enjoys mountain trekking, opera, and ballet, with regular escapes to newest TV series and rewatching time-tested movies.
Sydney Slacas is a third-year student in the MA Art History and Museum Studies program as well as a fourth-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.
Katharine Young is a first-year MA student studying art history and museum studies. She is interested in Byzantine, Islamic, and western Christian art created in the Mediterranean region throughout the Middle Ages, across political and religious boundaries. She earned her BA with honors from Walsh University in 2020, majoring in art history and museum studies with minors in Spanish and history. Katharine possesses a broad range of experiences in museums, research libraries, and archives. She has interned at the Cleveland Museum of Art, ICA-Art Conservation, and the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Italy.