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Michael Baird
Educational History: Centre College, BA in Art History, 2019

Michael Baird is a PhD candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, focusing on African art. He is interested in the Western reception of African material culture and how discourses of fine art and value were adapted into the establishment of African nation-states and national identity at the end of the colonial era. In 2019, he received his bachelor’s degree in Art History from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. His senior thesis contended with representations of black masculinity in the oeuvre of Robert Mapplethorpe and the social construction of categories within visual culture. Following his graduation, he worked as a curatorial intern and later curatorial and education assistant at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. The work he did at the museum was part of a larger initiative to re-evaluate the ways in which the museum characterizes, displays, and educates the public on African-inspired religions and objects that have acquired religious value.

Taylor Barrett is a second-year dual degree MA/MLIS student. She received her BA in studio art and archival studies from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. During her time at Smith, she held internships at The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University and the Whitney Museum of American Art.  Prior to arriving at Carolina, she spent two and a half years in Philadelphia, working with the ancient Egyptian Collection at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Most recently, she served as the Photography Archives Intern in the Minor White Archive at the Princeton University Art Museum. Taylor is interested in contemporary American art, material culture and artists’ archives.

Close-up portrait of Franny Brock

Franny Brock
Educational History: The Courtauld Institute of Art, MA in the History of Art, 2012; Oberlin College, BA in Art History, 2009

Franny is a doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, specializing in eighteenth-century French art and works on paper. She was advised by Dr. Mary D. Sheriff until Dr. Sheriff’s passing in fall 2016. Her dissertation, entitled “Drawing the Amateur,” is now being supervised by Dr. Melissa Hyde (University of Florida). Franny’s project examines drawings made by amateurs, particularly women, working outside of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in eighteenth-century France. Before arriving at UNC, Franny completed her BA in Art History at Oberlin College and her MA in the History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She completed her master’s degree in eighteenth-century French and British drawings, taught by Dr. Katie Scott and Professor David Solkin. Franny is pursuing a career in curatorial work and has held positions at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, The Frick Collection, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Ackland Art Museum. She has curated and co-curated a number of exhibitions, including “Visions of Antiquity in the Eighteenth Century” at the Dallas Museum of Art and “Celebrations and Revelries in Seventeenth-Century Dutch art” at the Ackland Art Museum. During the 2019-20 academic year she will be completing her dissertation with support from the UNC Graduate School’s Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Cassidy Bronack

Cassidy Bronack
Educational History: B.A. Art History and Religious Studies, University of North Carolina Asheville

Cassidy is currently a Master’s student and received her Bachelor’s degree in Art History from UNC Asheville in 2019. She held undergraduate internship positions with the Thomas Wolfe Memorial House and the Asheville Art Museum. Her research interests include the gendered body in religious iconography, specifically female representations in biblical narrative.

Photo portrait of Erin Dickey.

Erin Dickey
Educational History: UNC-Chapel Hill, MA, Art History/MS Information Science, 2018; University of Chicago, MA Religious Studies, 2010; Boston University, BA English/Religious Studies, 2008

Erin is a Ph.D. student focusing on contemporary art and technology, with specific interests in media theory, histories of telecommunications technologies, visuality, materialism(s), and archives. Erin was a Fellow in the Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded “Learning from Artists’ Archives” program (2015-2017). Prior to coming to UNC, Erin was Development and Outreach Coordinator at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville, NC. From 2010-2012, she worked as a Mobile Facilitator recording stories and conversations across the U.S. for the national oral history nonprofit StoryCorps.

Bust portrait of Emily DuVall

Emily DuVall
Educational History: University of Georgia, M.A. in Art History, 2019; Birmingham-Southern College, B.A. in History and Art History, 2016

Emily is a first year PhD student from Albany, Georgia. She received her Masters with Distinction from the University of Georgia and plans to continue her examination of the French Renaissance court, specifically investigating the role of myth and allegory in the depiction of royal mistresses. Emily has worked as a curatorial intern at the Albany Museum of Art in Albany, Georgia, as a gallery assistant at Portraits, Inc. in Birmingham, Alabama, and most recently, as the Pierre Daura Graduate Intern at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, Georgia.


Miranda Elston is a Ph.D. candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill working with Dr. Tania String. Her dissertation project, “Spatial Interaction: Architectural Representation in Early Tudor England,” explores the theme of sixteenth-century experience and perception of architectural space through literary and pictorial examples. Miranda completed her undergraduate studies at Western Washington University and earned her MA in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies offered jointly by Parsons, School of Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She has worked as a consultant researcher and digital developer for Local Projects, where she consulted on digital installations for the National Building Museum, the National Museum of American Jewish History, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. In 2017, she conducted research in England after being awarded the Thomas F. Ferdinand Summer Research Fellowship and Fall-Off Campus Fellowship. She has previously been awarded the Kress Fellowship for Applied Research, the Maynard Adams Fellowship for the Public Humanities, and the Visiting Scholar Award at the Yale Center for British Art.

Sarah Emily Farkas
Educational History: The University of Texas at Austin, MA – Art History, 2019; Oberlin College, BA – Art History and German Studies, 2012

Sarah is a Ph.D. student focusing on 16th-century English art, working with Dr. Tania String. She is especially interested in issues of gender, decorative objects, and jewelry in the early modern world. She graduated with her B.A. in Art History and German Studies from Oberlin College in 2012, where she also worked as a curatorial assistant for the Allen Memorial Art Museum. In May 2019, she earned her M.A. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin. Her master’s thesis, “Flexible Fashion: A Precious Girdle Book at the Tudor Court,” focused on the practice of wearing small, decorated prayer books in the 1500s and how they reflected noblewomen’s engagement with the issues of England’s Reformation. While attending UT Austin, Sarah also served as the Graduate Representative of the University of Texas Medievalists and the treasurer for the Graduate Student Art History Association.

Bust portrait of Michelle Fikrig.

Michelle Fikrig
Educational History: Oberlin College, BA in Art History, 2018

Michelle is a first year MA student. She received a BA with Honors in Art History from Oberlin College. While at Oberlin, she held internships at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; the Parrish Art Museum, Watermill, NY; and BRIC, Brooklyn, NY. Her research concerns contemporary African art, specifically photography and the practice of making art as activism.


Carlee Forbes
Educational History: University of Florida, MA in Art History, 2013; Michigan State University, BA in Arts and Humanities, 2011; Michigan State University, BA in History, 2011

Carlee is a doctoral student in Art History. Her dissertation focuses on early 20th century art from the Belgian Congo (present-day DRC). She analyzes artistic changes to further examine the relationship between the Belgian patrons, the Congolese artists, and their audiences. Carlee received her bachelor’s degrees in history and arts and humanities from Michigan State University and her master’s degree in art history from the University of Florida. Beginning in Fall 2019, Carlee will be a Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

Laura Fravel is a Ph.D. student.

Erin Grady is a doctoral student working with Dr. Dorothy Verkerk. She received her MA at UNC with a thesis entitled “Moralizing Monsters: Heretics in the Bible moralisée, Vienna 2554.” Her primary research interests include heresy and hybridity represented visually in thirteenth-century manuscripts. She is also interested in the history and visual culture of the Dominican Order from the early thirteenth century through the fifteenth century in Spain, France, and Italy. Liturgy, chant, and the materiality of liturgical books and objects from the tenth through fifteenth centuries are additional areas of interest.

Brianna Guthrie

Brianna Guthrie
Educational History: Syracuse University, B.A., 2006; University of Florida, M.A., 2008

Brianna is a Ph.D. candidate specializing in the portraiture of early modern England. Under the guidance of Dr. Tatiana C. String, her dissertation, entitled “Maternity and Matriarchy in English Family Portraits, 1603-1685,” evaluates the work of mothering and maternal authority as pictured in paintings, prints, sculptures, and other material objects. She seeks to highlight these visual examples of maternal work as our own society becomes more conscious and vocal about the unrecognized and historically dismissed labor involved in childcare. Her other research interests include portrayals of families, gender and sexuality, body theory, and the imagery of contemporary royalty. Brianna has received grants and fellowships from the Folger Shakespeare Institute, the UNC Graduate School, the Ackland Museum of Art, and the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program at UNC. Prior to joining the program, she was an Adjunct Professor at Palm Beach State College and a Curatorial Assistant at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, FL.

Josh Hockensmith

Josh Hockensmith
Educational History: University of Richmond, BA, 1995

My main area of interest is artists’ publications: artists’ books, zines, Web-to-print work, and other kinds of printed matter. I came to artists’ publications as a writer and poet interested in how different embodiments of a text affect its meaning, so I’m very interested in the intersection of text and visual art, and in a postcolonial view of the book as just one among many technologies of content transmission across cultures. I’m a career library worker involved in collecting artists’ publications and teaching with them. I also have a studio practice creating them under the press name Blue Bluer Books. My poems, translations, and flash fiction have appeared in some literary journals over the years and my artists’ books are held in a number of library, museum, and private collections.

Robin Holmes is a Ph.D. student of French modern art, advised by Dr. Daniel Sherman.

Bust portrait of Taylor Hunkins.

Taylor Hunkins
Twitter: @HunkinsTaylor
Educational History: Dickinson College, BA in Art History, 2017

I am a PhD student studying Contemporary African Art, with a specific interest in the intersection of art, visual culture, and design within East Africa. Currently, I am thinking about visual culture in and around Nairobi, Kenya and how artists/art collectives employ the aesthetics of visual and material culture to construct their own understandings of local, national, and international identity. As a subsection of this inquiry, I am fascinated with populist or ‘pop’ art in Kenya, its aesthetic make-up, and political ramifications. Prior to coming to UNC, I received my BA in Art History from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During my time at Dickinson, I curated “Mafile Fen,” an exhibition of Bamana sculpture and textile that explored the relationship between performance and object in Bamana aesthetics. I have also held internships at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Museum of African Art in DC.

Francine Kola-Bankole is a Ph.D. student of African art, advised by Dr. Carol Magee.

Megan Krznarich is a Ph.D. student.

Bust portrait of Kelsey Martin.

Kelsey D. Martin
Twitter: kelsey_d_martin
Educational History: University of New Mexico, MA Art History; University of Colorado, Boulder, BA Sociology

Kelsey is an Art History Ph.D. Candidate and Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Fellow at UNC-CH. She was advised by Dr. Mary D. Sheriff until Dr. Sheriff’s passing in the fall of 2016 and is currently advised by Dr. Melissa Hyde (University of Florida, Gainesville). Her fields of specialization rest in early modern Europe (though she often ventures to the 19th and early 20th centuries for various curatorial projects), with particular emphasis on eighteenth-century French art, works on paper, and women artists from 1450-1950. Her dissertation project explores women artists’ relationship to printmaking in eighteenth-century France, including their roles as designers, engravers, and exhibitors of prints. Kelsey is the recipient of numerous awards, internships, and fellowships, including the ‘Rare Prints Project’ Internship at the National Gallery of Art, D.C. (2017), the Object-Based Teaching Fellowship at the Ackland Art Museum (2017-2018), and the Dedo and Barron Kidd McDermott Curatorial Internship for European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (2018-2019). She served as the curatorial intern for the DMA’s Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism as well as the major traveling exhibition, Berthe Morisot, Woman Impressionist. Kelsey also curated Violence and Defiance, a works on paper show of German and Austrian Expressionist prints, which debuted at the DMA in August of 2019. For the 2019-2020 academic year, Kelsey will be in Paris conducting dissertation research thanks to the generous support of the UNC-CH Georges Lurcy Research Fellowship.

Julianne Miao

Julianne Miao
Educational History: University of Georgia, BA in Art History, 2019

Julianne is currently a Master’s student at UNC-Chapel Hill where she is a Weiss Urban Livability fellow. Her research interests span the twentieth century: from Armory Show American artists to global contemporary art. She is primarily interested in issues of race and gender within those topics. She received her Bachelor’s in Art History at the University of Georgia. During her senior year at UGA, she conducted an independent project under the advisement of Dr. Nell Andrew on Félix González-Torres’s “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)” and awarded grant money to see the work of art in Chicago to conduct research. She has held internships at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Princeton University Art Museum, and most recently, she was the Walton Family and Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art. There, she curated a show entitled “Private Life: Domestic and Interior Spaces in 20th century Art.” The exhibition explored 20th-century art and its inversion into subjects of the interior as a reaction to social reform, world wars, and personal trauma or tragedy.

Bust portrait of Brantly Hancock Moore

Brantly Moore
Educational History: University of South Carolina-Columbia, BA in Art History with minors in French and Hospitality, 2011; Leiden University, Netherlands, MA in Arts & Culture: Museums and Collections, 2015

A former museum educator and Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Museum Interpretation (2011-2), Brantly is a third-year PhD student and is the current Object-Based Teaching Fellow at the Ackland Art Museum, UNC-Chapel Hill. Following her MA in Museums and Collections, Brantly’s interests extended from modern museum practice and education to include the broader history of collecting and display. Today, her teaching and research interests are thematic in nature and extend from the medieval to modern periods. They include the aesthetics of function and material; historical debates pitting the fine arts versus craft and the applied arts; the visual and architectural culture of medieval pilgrimage; the history of display, collections, and museums; and the organization and production of knowledge in collections. Her research combines traditional art historical methods with functional, material, religious, and (socio-) historical questions. She has received grants from the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program, UNC (2019), the University of Amsterdam (2018), and Leiden University (2014). Her dissertation, entitled “Rummaging Drawers, Opening Doors: A Cross-Cultural Inquiry into Sixteenth-Century Collectors’ Cabinets & their Contents,” considers cabinet inventories and construction in tandem with their original historical and architectural contexts, demonstrating how collection furniture determined organizational and display strategies that in turn shaped and reflected early modern perceptions of and interactions with objects. When she is not practicing her burgeoning German, she enjoys cooking, rock climbing, yoga, and editing non-native English texts, as she did in 2014 for the Mauritshuis, The Hague. Most recently, she served as the Editorial Assistant for her advisor, Christoph Brachmann, on his most recent edited volume, Arrayed in Splendour: Art, Fashion and Textiles in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Turnhout: Brepols, 2019). Other publications include educational guides at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta (2012-3) and the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina (2012).

Close up portrait of Aisha Marie Muhammad.

Aisha Marie Muhammad
Twitter: AishaMMPhD
Educational History: SUNY New Paltz, Bachelor of Arts in Art History and History (Cum Laude), 2012; School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Master of Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory and Criticism, 2015

My research examines the confluence of performance and video media in sub-Saharan Africa. I am interested in how “new media” interventions affect traditional and contemporary performance rituals, including the evolution of iconography within established visual cultures. My writing and research primarily centers around West and Central Africa; I have extensively written on Nigerian artist Jelili Atiku with my master’s thesis entitled: “Humanity is ‘In the Red’: An Examination of Jelili Atiku’s Performance Series”. I am also interested in perceptions of the continent and blackness in the African Diaspora, and how contemporary media further affects visual symbols of Africa to its diaspora communities. Postcolonial theory is an important aspect of my research. Prior to coming to UNC, I was an intern at the National Portrait Gallery, and Instructor in art history at Genesee Community College (Batavia, NY). I am currently a Humanities for Public Good Fellow, working on a project that involves increasing visitor engagement in the North Carolina Museum of Art’s African galleries.

Rachel is wearing a black tank top, has her brunette hair in a bun, and is smiling because she is standing in front of the Coliseum in Rome.

Rachel Ozerkevich is an Art History Ph.D. Candidate from Toronto, Canada, and she is advised by Dr. Daniel Sherman. She received her B.A. in Art History from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and her M.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill. Her M.A. thesis addressed athletic and nationalist symbolism in several of Robert Delaunay’s paintings. Her dissertation, “Aestheticizing Sport: Representations of Athletes in France and Switzerland, 1870-1914,” investigates different ways that male and female athletes were imaged in popular media and in the fine arts between the Franco-Prussian and First World Wars. During the 2019-2020 academic year, she will be based in Lausanne, Switzerland, funded by the Werner P. Friederich Off-Campus Dissertation Fellowship.

Portrait of Annie Poslusny

Annie Poslusny
Educational History: Meredith College, B.A. in Art History, 2019, minor in Studio Art; Marist College, B.A. in French Language and Literature

Annie’s research focus is on nineteenth century American painting and prints. Specifically, she is interested in the intersection of art and science in the 19th century, and in particular the influence of Darwinism on the work of Winslow Homer. Annie presented a research paper entitled, “W.R. Valentiner and the Genesis of the North Carolina Museum of Art” at the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC) on October 19, 2018 in Birmingham, Alabama. She has interned at Triangle Artworks (a nonprofit arts agency), the Frankie G. Weems Gallery, and has just completed a two year curatorial internship at the North Carolina Museum of Art.


Josh Smith is a doctoral candidate specializing in modern European art. Under the direction of Daniel J. Sherman, he researches issues of gender, memory, and museums as they relate to conservative politics in French visual culture. His dissertation, “Inglorious Memories: Envisioning the Franco-Prussian War in Modern France,” explores how the visual as a category became a critical site for articulating and contesting memories of the Franco-Prussian War from 1871 to the present. Smith received his BA in art history and studio art, with a minor in French, from the University of Minnesota, Morris. In 2015, he completed his MA at UNC-CH. Smith has received several awards, the most recent of which include a pre-dissertation exploration award from the Center for Global Initiatives at UNC and a fellowship to participate in the Centre Internationale de Recherche de l’Historial de la Grande Guerre’s 2016 summer seminar, held in conjunction with the centenary commemoration of the Battle of the Somme. As a former co-president of the Art Student Graduate Organization, he organized two graduate symposia: “Then and Now, Here and There: The Curious Lives of Objects” (April 2016) and “Art, Media, and Social Unrest” (March 2017). For more information, see Smith’s personal website:

Close-up portrait of Andrea Snow

Andrea C. Snow
Twitter: @ginnun_ga_gap
Educational History: MA, Art History and Visual Culture, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (2016)

Andrea is a PhD candidate studying early medieval art. Her dissertation, “A Language of Snakes: The Supernature of Objects in Early Medieval Scandinavia,” explores the supernatural agency that objects carried in pre-Christian Scandinavia. Arguing that crafted things were engrossed in an intricate culture of magic, it aims to broaden the discourse surrounding Viking Age art. Her other research interests include depictions of monsters, blood and miraculous bleeding, the fragmentation of the body, materiality and somaticism, and the historiography of art history. She has published in multiple outlets, having a research article in Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, an educational essay featured on Smarthistory, and book reviews for Religion and the Arts. Additionally, she is the grateful recipient of the 2018 Vivian and John Dixon Award, the 2019 Huntley Fellowship through the Ackland Art Museum and the North Carolina Museum of Art, and a 2019 teaching award from the Undergraduate Student Union. She aims to create an inclusive, cross-disciplinary intellectual climate throughout her career.


Portrait of Jennifer Wu.

Jennifer Wu
Educational History: Harvard University, Ed. M.; American University, M.A.

Jennifer is a Caroline H. and Thomas S. Royster Fellow and Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She specializes in the art of Europe, 1400-1700, and her areas of research include image-text relations, gender studies, and material culture. In her dissertation, directed by Dr. Tania String, she explores metapaintings in early modern England. Jennifer’s interests include the praxis of teaching in both classroom and museum spaces. She has served as the Samuel H. Kress Fellow for Museum Education at the Ackland Art Museum. Currently, Jennifer is a Teaching Fellow and instructor of record at UNC and has been teaching courses on Italian Renaissance art. Jennifer recently co-taught an interdisciplinary Royster First-Year Seminar, In the Flesh: The Constructed Body in Medieval and Renaissance Europe. She co-authored a pedagogical essay based on this experience, “The Constructed Body in a Disembodied Platform: Interdisciplinarity and Team Teaching in the Age of COVID-19,” for the Sixteenth Century Journal, Early Modern Classroom supplement, 51, no. S1 (2020).

Weixin Zhou is a Ph.D. student in Art History. She is originally from Shanghai, China, and completed her undergraduate studies at Shanghai Normal University before earning an M.A. Degree in Creative and Media Enterprises in Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies at The University of Warwick in the U.K. Weixin’s main research interest is Western modern art, specifically European modernism and art movements in nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is interested in the interdisciplinary approach of reflecting art and art history in the intellectual and cultural context.

Alexandra Ziegler is a doctoral student at UNC-Chapel Hill working with Christoph Brachmann. Her research interests lie in the art and architecture of early modern Europe, with particular attention paid to intersections of politics, gender, and religion within portraiture. She is originally from Hawaii but has spent several years on the West Coast, where she received her BA from Humboldt State University and MA from the University of Oregon. Her Master’s thesis, entitled “Divinity and Destiny: Marian Imagery in Rubens’ Life of Marie de’ Medici” investigates the construction of identity, femininity, and authority in the Medici Cycle. She continues to explore these issues in her current research, looking more broadly at the tradition of saintly imagery in representations of female royals in the seventeenth century.