Art History

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Graduate Students

Alice Heeren

aheerensabat@mail.smu.edu

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.

Ana Norman

Ana Norman is a second-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program in Art History at Southern Methodist University. Prior to pursuing her master’s degree, Norman received her B.A in art history with a concentration in printmaking from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas. As an undergraduate, she interned for the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, Heritage Auctions and Shango Galleries. Her research interests consider abstraction of the human form as a means of connectivity in modern and contemporary art.

Alexandra Stern

Alexandra Stern is a first-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program in art history. Prior to entering the program, she received her B.A. in history of art and classical and Near Eastern archaeology with a minor in museum studies in 2020 from Haverford College with extended coursework at Bryn Mawr College. As an undergraduate, she served as a student curator for Recon[Textile]ized: Byzantine Textiles from Late Antiquity to the Present at Bryn Mawr College and as the head curator for ‘Who Created the New and Copied the Old’: Printed Texts of the Fifteenth Century, the inaugural exhibit in the Allison and Howard Lutnick Library at Haverford College. In addition, during her time as an undergraduate, she interned with the Quaker and Special Collections at Haverford College, the Near East Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and, most recently, remotely with the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens as a part of the Goulandris Internship. Her current research interests surround the use and reuse of textiles in late antique Egypt, with a focus on the role of protective iconography in children’s clothing, as well as the circulation and commodification of archaeological materials in the eighteenth and nineteenth century and their influence on modern art. 

Asiel Sepulveda

Asiel Sepúlveda is a doctoral candidate in the Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture Ph.D. program in art history. His research examines the circulation, perception and use of printed images in the nineteenth-century Caribbean and the Atlantic World. His dissertation, titled “Havana Impressions: Global Modernity and City Life in the Visual Culture of the Cuban Plantation System (1790-1860),” reveals a complex world of visual politics that connects French émigré artists, Cuban planters, Spanish colonial officials, and African diasporic subjects who forged imaginaries of modern life in a colonial Caribbean city. Sepúlveda’s research has received numerous awards and recognitions. His scholarship on Havana’s nineteenth-century tobacco advertisements and its representations of race, miscegenation and public order was awarded the Dahesh Museum of Art Prize for the Best Paper at the 12th Annual Graduate Student Symposium in Nineteenth-Century Art (2015). In addition, he has received fellowship support from the Cuban Heritage Collection, The John Carter Brown Library and the American Antiquarian Society. Sepulveda’s research has appeared in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Athanor, and the exhibition catalogue Learning to See: Renaissance and Baroque Masterworks from the Phoebe Dent Weil and Mark S. Weil Collection (Saint Louis, MO: Saint Louis Art Museum, 2017). His academic formations also include hands-on printmaking workshops at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Burning Bones Press in Houston Texas, as well as completion of the Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Program, where he developed a pilot project that presented LatinX stories using 3D digitization technology. 

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. Maghsoudlou received his Bachelor of Science from University of Tehran (Iran) and his Masters in Archaeology from University of Mazandaran (Iran). His research interests lie in the art of the Ancient and Late Antique Near East, specifically the art of the Iranian world during the Sasanians. Maghsoudlou is interested in the sacred and secular court rituals of the Sasanian empire, their origin in preceding periods, and how they were reintegrated into the courts of the succeeding dynasties of Iran. Maghsoudlou investigates the manifestation of such rituals, notably the royal hunt and royals feast in rock reliefs and metalworks.

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 Pigeon

Danielle Pigeon 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 history of art from Bryn Mawr College in 2019 as a McBride Scholar. While at Bryn Mawr she held a research assistantship and worked with the photography collection at Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Pigeon’s interests at the undergraduate level focused on medieval amuletic objects, material symbolism, intermediality, apotropaism, and the history of magic and medicine. Pigeon’s research at SMU will continue to explore amuletic objects as well as the use of supernaturally potent and transformative materials in works of art that emerged during the Late Middle Ages in Europe.

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.

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: dezor@smu.edu.

Gabriela Paiva de Toledo

Gabriela Paiva de Toledo is a Ph.D. student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture program in Art History at Southern Methodist University. She received her B.A. in history with an art history minor from the University of Campinas (Brazil) in 2015 and her M.A. in art history from the same institution in 2017. Her M.A. thesis examined Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Idea del Tempio della Pittura (1590) and its critical tradition. She is the author of a Portuguese translation of the Idea del Tempio, accompanied by critical commentaries and historical analysis (forthcoming by the Federal University of São Paulo-University of Campinas press). Paiva de Toledo was a visiting researcher at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz in 2016, funded by the Research Funding Foundation of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP). She was the recipient of a federal scholarship (Capes, Brazil), an M.A. scholarship (FAPESP) and a travel research scholarship (FAPESP). Currently, her interests lie in contemporary Brazilian photography, cultural exchange between Africa and Brazil, and global narratives of art.

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. jchristensen@smu.edu

Jennifer Laffick

Jennifer Laffick is a Ph.D. student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture program in art history at SMU. Jennifer received her B.A. in art history, with a minor in French language, from the University of Central Florida and her M.A. in the history of art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Her M.A. thesis analyzed the oeuvre of the French painter Jean Broc and his relationship with the “Primitifs” (or “Barbus”)—the sect of artists who broke away from Jacques-Louis David’s studio in 1799. Prior to coming to SMU, Jennifer worked at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL, as the curatorial assistant. She has also held museum internships at The Wallace Collection, London, and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, FL. Her research interests primarily focus on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century French painting and visual culture, with emphasis on representations of the body and gender, as well as notions of fraternity and selfhood. jlaffick@smu.edu

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 Varela Mejia

Laura Varela Mejia is a first-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program. She received her B.A. in art history from Williams College in 2018. During her time as an undergraduate, Varela interned at Williams College Museum of Art’s curatorial department, and, during her semester abroad in Siena, Italy, at the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena’s education department. After graduating, Varela worked at the Clark Art Institute and the Rubell Museum, where she continued to explore her interest in art historical education and accessibility. Her current research interests include the visual and material culture exchange between Latin America and Spain during the early modern era, as well as early modern Spanish devotional images of suffering.

Madison Whitaker

Madison Whitaker is a second-year student in the RASC/a: Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture M.A. program in Art History at Southern Methodist University. She received her B.A. in art history with minors in Latin and art, with a personal focus on ceramics, from Southern Methodist University in 2019. Her research interests include representation of the self and negotiation of socially constructed identities, such as gender, race, and sexuality, in modern and contemporary art.

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.

Brigid Powers

Brigid Powers is a first-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.

Sydney Fitzgibbon

Sydney Fitzgibbon 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. from Texas Christian University, with focuses in art history and French modern languages studies. As an undergraduate, Fitzgibbon interned within the education departments of the Kimbell Art Museum and Sid Richardson Museum, and worked for The Art Galleries at TCU. Her art historical interests lie within the realm of the long eighteenth century in France, and the dispersal of said periods’ masterpieces globally through the growth of nineteenth-century collections.

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