Areas of Study

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Graduate Students


  • Alice Heeren


    My name is Alice Heeren. I received my BA in Art Education and a BFA in Printmaking from the Univeridade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil during which time I worked at the Laboratório de Conservação de Bens Culurais. In 2011 I received a MA in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a thesis entitled "The Inhotim Cultural Institute: the museum in the Neodevelopmentalist era." After an internship at MoMA and two years in the graduate program of the University of Illinois, I am currently pursuing my Ph.D at SMU in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture. My research is in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art and Architecture with a focus on memory studies. Finally, I am currently the sub editor for Latin American Visual Arts for the upcoming Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism.

  • Asiel Sepulveda


    My name is Asiel Sepúlveda. I received a B.A in Art History from Florida International University in 2012. At this great institution I wrote my undergraduate thesis “ Barroquismo: The Eclectic Tension of Cuba’s Cultural Identities,” on which I focused on redefining barroquismo as a cultural/aesthetic tension adjacent to modernist practices. Before joining SMU, I also completed an internship as a curatorial assistant at the Patricia & Philip Frost Art Museum (2011-12). My academic interests are issues of identity in Modern Latin American Art, particularly the Cuban Vanguard movement. Currently, I am pursuing a project on the fusion of colonial architecture, femininity and abstraction in the work of Amelia Peláez. Last but not least, I greatly enjoy the culinary arts, roaming the Internet and friendly blitz chess.

  • Elena Gittleman


    My name is Elena Gittleman and I am a first year MA student interested in the Medieval Mediterranean and the Byzantine Empire. I recently graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in Art History and a secondary major in History. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I have focused on the medieval world, culminating in a Senior Honors Thesis on the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. During summer breaks, I held two internship positions; one at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. and another at the Cloisters Museum and Gardens, a part of the Medieval Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. My love of art history began with a seminar on the art and architecture of Constantinople, ending with a slightly unhealthy obsession with the Hagia Sophia on my part. Drawing on all of my experiences in and out of the classroom, I plan to continue my study of Medieval and Byzantine art and architecture throughout my Masters and my Ph.D.

  • Erin Pinon


    Erin Piñon: I am a first year M.A. student and recent graduate of Tufts University where I received a B.A. in Art History. My focus is Byzantine art and architecture - not solely because I like shiny things, but also because I am fascinated with the terrestrial expansion and chronological spread of the Byzantine Empire. I also enjoy researching Armenian culture and history. I have a strong interest in 7th and 10th Century Armenian cathedrals and their enduring architectural influence and standing as historical monuments in troubled territory. Finally, I provide all of the written content for a contemporary art gallery in Deep Ellum, called W.A.A.S. serving -- my outlet to living artists.

  • Joseph Hartman


    Joe Hartman is a PhD candidate in the RASC/a program at Southern Methodist University. His research interests include cultural geography, performance, phenomenology, and visual culture. His current work focuses on the art and architecture of the Iberian and Ibero-American worlds, especially early modern Ecuador. Hartman recently completed a master’s in art history at the University of North Texas in 2011. His thesis, “The Ceiba Tree as a Multivocal Signifier: Afro-Cuban Symbolism and Urban Space in the Early Cuban Republic” originates from seminar work on visual culture in the African diaspora and theories of transculturation in the colonial and early modern periods. He also pursued a minor focus in ancient and medieval art of the Mediterranean. Before his arrival in Texas, Hartman taught art for several years in Indiana. His experience ranges from high school media arts, visual education for inner-city middle school students, and general art for elementary students. He acquired a bachelor’s degree in art and Spanish at Goshen College, Indiana in 2007 where he also received a certification in k-12 education. As an undergraduate, Hartman enjoyed creating editorial cartoons for the Goshen Record newspaper and acting in several main stage plays. Now his days are filled with reading books, writing, thinking, and, most importantly, quality time with his wife and cat.

  • Lauren Richman


    Lauren Richman is a doctoral student focusing on modern and contemporary art, specifically the history of photography and 20th century to contemporary installation work. Her research interests include themes of trauma, the Holocaust, representations of memory, and explorations of loss and memorial in postwar French and German art. Lauren received her BA in the History of Art (minors in French, Studio Art) from Vanderbilt University in 2011. She worked as an intern at the Art Institute of Chicago (Dept. of Photography), Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, New Orleans Museum of Art, and Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery.

  • Mariana Westphalen Von Hartenthal


    Mariana von Hartenthal is from Curitiba, a city in the South of Brazil. She studied Architecture and Urban Planning as an undergrad; shortly after she graduated she went to England where she took an MA in Museum Studies at the University of Southampton. Later on, she took another Master’s, this time in the area of Technology and Interaction (at the Federal University for Technology – Paraná, Brazil), which allowed her to research the way we perceive and interact with space, a longstanding interest of hers. While doing research for her MA thesis, she realized that some remarkable aspects of the interplay between people and space were first investigated by artists, which is how she arrived at studying art history. Although she did not follow an orthodox path in her academic career, she is happy to say that this has not been a problem here at RASC/a -- quite the opposite. Faculty members and colleagues are open to hearing about different perspectives, which is one of the aspects that make the program so exciting. Here, she feels encouraged to pursue her main research goal: the role of art in our understanding and construction of urban space, especially focusing on Latin American cities of the 20th century.

  • Rheagan Martin


    Rheagan Martin is an M.A. student in art history. His research interests include modern and contemporary art with an emphasis in Jewish studies, erasure and liminality. Rheagan received a bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University. Before attending RASC/a, he was an intern at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy; worked in development at the Frederic Leighton House Museum in London; and worked as a curatorial intern at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

  • Rachel Spradley


    My name is Rachel Spradley and I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2010. I completed a double major in Plan II, an honors liberal arts program, and Spanish as well as a minor in art history. While at UT I studied art history abroad in Vienna, Austria during the summer of 2007 and Buenos Aires, Argentina in the spring semester of 2009, where I also studied Spanish language and Latin American literature. I wrote my Plan II undergraduate thesis, which earned a Model Thesis designation, on Islamic architecture in medieval Spain. After graduating, I worked for two years as a program officer for Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, where I helped coordinate the organization’s teacher institute program. Prior to joining the master’s program in art history at SMU, I also spent several months working with a small art advisory firm in Houston.

  • Samantha Robinson


    Samantha Robinson, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, joined Southern Methodist University’s graduate program in art history with a bachelor’s of arts degree in international studies, with emphases in visual studies and media studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. Prior to her enrollment at SMU, Samantha began a career in nonprofit arts administration in Cincinnati, working as an AmeriCorps public ally at ArtsWave, an arts fundraising and advocacy organization, and later as the manager of Enjoy the Arts, a membership program in residence at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Samantha’s academic interests include colonial visual culture, cartography, documentary photography and public art. Other interests include the culinary arts, mixology, letters and postcards, football, exercise and famous quotes. One of her favorite quotes is by Vincent Van Gogh: “For my part, I know nothing for certain, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

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