Graduate Students


Alexandra Stern

Alexandra Stern is a second-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program in art history. She received her B.A. in the history of art and classical and Near Eastern archaeology in 2020 from Haverford College (with extended coursework at Bryn Mawr College).  During her time at SMU, she has worked with the Hamon Arts Library and the Bridwell Library as a processing, circulation and conservation assistant. Previous internships and work experience include placements with the Quaker and Special Collections at Haverford College, the Near East Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and remotely with the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens as a part of the Goulandris Internship, as well as curatorial work with the Haverford and Bryn Mawr libraries and special collections. Her research interests surround the relationships between textiles, care and grief, and the role of material culture in the creation of individual and cultural memory.

Alice Heeren

Alice Heeren is a PhD student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture program. She received a BA in Art Education and a BFA in Printmaking from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais - Brazil during which time she worked at LACICOR, the university’s Laboratory of Conservation Science. In 2011, she 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." She spent time as a curatorial intern at the Museum of Modern Art in NY (MoMA) and was an editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. Alice has published articles and reviews in Arte Al Día, Artelogie, Artefacto Visual, Art Research Journal, and RE BUS. She has presented her work in academic institutions and museums including the Latin American Studies Association, the Associação Nacional de Pesquisadores em Artes Plásticas, and the Association of Art Historians. She has received numerous travel grants from SMU, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago including a Dedman College Dean’s Grant, a Lehman Institute for Brazilian Studies and an Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies travel grants. In 2014, she received the Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU to pursue research in Italy on the rhetoric of space in its ethical and affective dimensions in the city of Rome under Benito Mussolini. Her research focuses on Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art and Architecture with emphasis in media theory, ethics, memory studies and affect theory. She is currently working on a dissertation that examines how the semantic, semiotic and affective experiences of space and place shaped the body politics and the ideal of the nation in twentieth century Brazil.

Arvin Maghsoudlou

Arvin Maghsoudlou is a doctoral candidate in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture program in Art History at Southern Methodist University and a 2021-22 Andrew W. Mellon fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Arvin comes from Iran, where he received an undergraduate degree from the University of Tehran and a master's degree in Islamic Archaeology from the University of Mazandaran. He specializes in the art of late antique western Asia and the Iranian world, particularly during the Sasanian and early Islamic periods. With an emphasis on materiality and object agency, Arvin's dissertation investigates the transcultural reception of Sasanian silver vessels across Eurasia and their long-term impact on the aesthetic sensibilities of the later periods. Maghsoudlou's research has received multiple awards and recognitions, including the Fellowship in History of Art and Visual Culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship at the National Museum of Asian Art, and the Alessandra Comini International Fellowship for Art History Studies.

Brigid Powers

Brigid Powers is a second-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program in art history. In 2018 she received her B.A., with a concentration in art history, with honors, from California State University, Sacramento. As an undergrad, she served as president of the Art History Club at CSUS. She was also the 2018 recipient of the Juanita and José Montoya Memorial Art Scholarship. Her B.A. thesis focused on seventeenth-century Spanish images of Saint Teresa of Ávila and the role they played in her patron sainthood. Her research interests include Early Modern images of mysticism as well as the effects of globalism and cross-cultural influences between Spain and Latin America.

Claudia Zapata

Claudia Zapata is a doctoral candidate in Southern Methodist University’s RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture: Ph.D. Program in Art History. She received her B.A. and M.A. from University of Texas in Art History, specializing in Classic Maya art. Her research interests include curatorial methodologies of identity-based exhibitions, Texas Neo-Chicanoism, exhibition design, people of color zines, and designer toys. From 2010 to 2014 she served as the Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Texas. Zapata has curated over 30 exhibitions at the Mexic-Arte Museum and other Texas institutions, including A Viva Voz: Carmen Lomas Garza (2010), Sam Coronado: A Retrospective (2011), Death to Dollars: The Commercialization of Day of the Dead (2011), and Fantastic & Grotesque: José Clemente Orozco in Print (2014). Her recent projects include co-founding the Latinx art collective, Puro Chingón Collective in 2012. Within this experimental arts group, she develops art zines, prints, apparel, design, and art toys. Claudia has published articles in Panhandle-Plains Historical Review and the Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. She is currently pursuing her dissertation project, “Chicano Art is Not Dead: Politics on Display within Major U.S. Exhibitions.” From 2018-2019 Claudia will be the curatorial assistant at the Smithsonian American Art Collection in support of the exhibition ¡Printing the Revolution! Chicano Graphics from the Civil Rights Era to the Present. For contact and further information please see her website.

Danielle Ezor

Danielle Ezor is a doctoral candidate in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture Ph.D. program in art history at SMU. She received her B.A. in art history and studio art from Wellesley College and her M.A. in art history from the Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art. At Williams, Ezor worked in the Manton Study Center for Works on Paper at the Clark Art Institute and presented her master’s qualifying paper, “Women's Work: Jean Siméon Chardin’s Kitchen Maids.” She has also spent time as a research intern in the Art of Europe Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her dissertation, titled “Constructing Whiteness at the Dressing Table: Race, Gender, and Materiality in Eighteenth-Century France and the French Caribbean,” questions how eighteenth-century vanity items such as makeup boxes, perfume vials, etui kits, sugar pots, coffee, tea, and chocolate implements and their corresponding consumables—makeup, perfume, coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar—not only allow for but actively construct white femininity, often at the expense of forced black labor. Other interests include print culture, the art of the book, and queer theory. Email:

Danya Epstein

Danya Epstein is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at SMU. A former naturopathic physician, she has an M.A. in art history from Arizona State University, and an A.B. in French from Princeton University. Her area of interest is American and Native American art and architecture of the Southwest.


Darby Linn

Darby Linn is a first-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program in art history. She received a B.A. in art history (summa cum laude) and a B.S. in strategic communications from the University of Colorado Boulder, with focuses in Nazi-era art theft recovery and restitution. For her undergraduate honors thesis in partnership with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Linn researched the missing paintings of a German Jewish family during the Second World War within the German State and Federal Archives in Berlin, Germany. She also worked for one year as a research assistant to the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art. Her art historical interests include art law, looted and stolen artworks, provenance research, and restitution. 


Gabriela Paiva de Toledo

Gabriela Paiva de Toledo: Gabriela Paiva de Toledo is a Ph.D. student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space, and Culture at Southern Methodist University. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Campinas (Brazil), in History with an Art History minor, in 2015, and her Master of Arts degree in Art History from the same institution in 2017. Her current research focuses on the relations between ecology and Contemporary Art produced in and about Brazil. She is a member of the Curatorial Minds Lab, a project of the SMU Pollock Gallery and Hawn Gallery. She is currently (2021-2022) a curatorial fellow at The Warehouse, Dallas, assisting in the organization of the exhibition "Tender Objects: Emotion and Sensation after Minimalism," and acting as liaison between The Warehouse and the SMU art history department. Contact information:

Jean Marie Christensen

Jean Marie Christensen is a doctoral candidate in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture Ph.D. program in art history at SMU. She received her B.A. in history with an art history minor from Oklahoma State University in 2015 and her M.A. in European history from The University of Tulsa in 2017. Her research examines Tudor and Stuart portraiture through the theories of the king's two bodies and the body politic to analyze the construction of authority through the representation of the royal body. Her research also focuses on ideas of body image, family and dynasty, and the monarch’s place within court culture in early modern Britain.


Jennifer Laffick

Jennifer Laffick is a doctoral student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture Ph.D. program at SMU. She received her B.A. in art history with a minor in French from the University of Central Florida and her M.A. in the history of art from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her work is primarily concerned with French visual culture produced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Specific research interests include representations of gender, intersections between theater and visual art, histories of museums and collecting, and curatorial practice. Recently, Laffick served as the Sculpture and Decorative Arts curatorial summer intern at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. She has also worked at the Norton Museum of Art as the curatorial assistant and has held internship positions at the Wallace Collection and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.

Kelsey Rozema

Kelsey Rozema is a PhD student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture Ph.D. Program in Art History. She received her masters in art history from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She is interested in the displays of both agency and oppression in eighteenth-century Spanish portraiture.

Laura Martin

Laura Martin

Laura Martin is a first-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program. She received her B.A. in history, with minors in art history and Spanish, from Baylor University in 2014. During her time as an undergraduate, she interned at the Meadows Museum and studied abroad in Spain. After graduating, Martin received her M.Ed. in history from Texas State University and taught 7th- and 8th-grade history for four years. Her current research interests include the intersections of gender, sexuality and religion in medieval and Early Modern Spain.

Lindsey Reynolds

Lindsey Reynolds is a Ph.D. student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture program in art history at SMU. She received her B.A. in art history, with a certificate in museum studies, from The University of Texas at Austin in 2018 and her M.A. in art history from the University of Houston in 2021. Her M.A. thesis examined a selection of contemporary artists of Latin American and Middle Eastern descent who remediate archival resources in their work to recontextualize their national and cultural histories. Reynolds has held fellowship positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston; and FotoFest, Houston. Prior to her graduate studies, she worked at the Texas Commission on the Arts as a program assistant. Her current research interests focus on modern and contemporary art from Latin America, the Middle East, and their diasporas, emphasizing its relationship to global art markets. 

R. Arvid Nelsen

Arvid Nelsen is a Ph.D. student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture in Art History. He received his B.A. in Greek and Latin from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and M.A.s in classics and in library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Nelsen is currently the rare books and manuscripts librarian at SMU’s Bridwell Library, having come to Dallas from the University of Minnesota, where he served as curator and archivist for the Charles Babbage Institute. He is a former E. Ph. Goldschmidt Fellow at Rare Book School and former section chair of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Nelsen is the author of “Race and Computing: The Problem of Sources, the Potential of Prosopography, and the Lesson of Ebony Magazine” (IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, v. 39, no. 1, Jan-Mar 2017) and “Concern for the ‘Disadvantaged’: ACM’s Role in Training and Education for Communities of Color (1958-1975)” (in Communities of Computing: Computer Science and Society in the ACM, New York: Morgan & Claypool, 2017). His interests include the intersection of art, technology, and society; global modernism; and modernism in print.

Sam Rushing

Sam Rushing

Sam Rushing: Sam Rushing is a first-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program in art history. In 2021 he received a B.A. in art history with a minor in anthropology from the University of Oklahoma. As an undergraduate, he interned at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. His B.A. thesis focused on Irish documentary photographer Richard Mosse and his work in the Congo as a critical self-examination of documentary photographic practice. His research interests include photography, art and politics, cross-cultural exchange and globalization, in modern and contemporary art.


Sophia Salinas

Sophia Salinas is a Ph.D. student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture program in art history. She received her B.A. in art history and B.B.A. in general business from SMU. During her senior year she served as the AAMD Undergraduate Intern in Museum Education at the Meadows Museum. Her senior honors thesis “Cyber Touch: The Body and Transgression in Cyberfeminist Art Practices” examined feminist theories of embodiment and technology in relation to cyberfeminist digital interactive art. She currently pursues her curatorial interests in the Curatorial Minds Lab cohort, hosted by the Hawn Gallery and the Pollock Gallery. The experimental curatorial cohort hosts virtual lectures with international curators, controls the Curatorial Minds Lab exhibition at the Hawn Gallery, and contributes to the zine Dialogos.  Her research interests include modern and contemporary art with attention to themes of gender, race, and embodiment, as well as new media art.

Sydney Fitzgibbon

Sydney Fitzgibbon

Sydney Fitzgibbon is a second-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program. She received a B.A. from Texas Christian University, with focuses in art history and French modern language studies. As an undergraduate, Fitzgibbon worked for The Art Galleries at TCU and interned with the education departments of the Kimbell Art Museum and Sid Richardson Museum. Concurrent to her graduate studies, she serves as a graduate library assistant in the Special Collections of SMU’s Bridwell Library. Fitzgibbon’s art historical interests lie within the realm of the long eighteenth century in France, and the global dispersal of said periods’ artworks through the growth of nineteenth-century collections. Her research in visual and material culture is thematically informed by interests in self-fashioning, collective memory and reception studies.