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Michael Baird

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

Michael Baird is a doctoral student in the department of Art and Art History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is interested in the Western reception of African material culture and how the discourse of fine art was utilized in the fashioning of national identity at the end of the colonial era. His current work centers on how art education formed an integral component of the British colonial apparatus in the East Africa Protectorate and how this colonial instruction in making continues to influence understandings of art within the contemporary nation-state of Uganda and perceptions of Ugandan art abroad. In 2019, Michael’s 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.

Callie Beattie

Callie Beattie
Educational History: Virginia Commonwealth University, Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with minors in Sociology and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, 2021; The School of Visual Arts, completed coursework towards a BFA, 2009 – 2012

Callie is a second-year dual degree master’s student in art history and library science with a concentration in archives. Her primary interest areas include 20th-century – contemporary artist self-publishing practices (zines, small press work, artist books, etc.), material culture, and queer, women, and subculture-focused archives. She is currently the Research Assistant for Southern Futures at Carolina Performing Arts and an Audiovisual Digitization Graduate Assistant at Wilson Special Collections Library.

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 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. She also has expertise in student and faculty support, having worked at the UNC Writing and Learning Center and the Center for Faculty Excellence.

Rachel Ciampoli

Rachel Ciampoli
Educational History: College of William and Mary, B.A. in Art History with a minor in Management and Organizational Leadership, 2019

Rachel is a doctoral student in the department of Art and Art History at UNC. Her undergraduate honors thesis examined nineteenth-century urban ecology, public parks development, and antebellum racial politics through the previously unexplored painting “Servants at a Pump” (1840) by Italian-American artist Nicolino Calyo. Her current research, supervised by Dr. Maggie Cao, probes the relationship between racialized identities, labor practices, capital venture, and the environment in nineteenth-century American art. Before beginning her Ph.D. program, Rachel spent three years developing a visual arts integration initiative within the education department at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. At UNC, Rachel has served a Teaching Assistant in Art History, a Graduate Research Consultant in Comparative Literature, a Teaching Fellow at the Ackland Art Museum, and as Chair for the Eighth Annual Graduate Symposium: “Matters of Art: Materiality, Functionality & the Agency of Art Objects.” She lives in Chapel Hill, NC with her boyfriend and Giant Schnauzer, Ruby.

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 Dickey is a Ph.D. candidate and the Chester Dale Fellow (’22-’24) at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. Her dissertation, “‘Bad Information’: Networks, Knowledges, and Feminist Art in the 1980s,” analyzes the material histories of information art, online projects, video installations, and telecommunications experiments by Judy Malloy, Nancy Paterson, and Karen O’Rourke, contextualizing them against the politics and aesthetics of the “information age.” At UNC, she has taught ARTH 285: Art after 1960 and ARTH 488: Contemporary African Art, and in the Ackland Art Museum as Object-Based Teaching Fellow (’20-’21). As a master’s student, Erin was a Fellow in UNC’s IMLS-funded “Learning from Artists’ Archives” program. She has also worked for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, and the national oral history nonprofit Storycorps. Recent publications include “Organic Archives and Silent Presences: A Case Study of the Nlele Institute’s Photographic Archives,” with Carol Magee, in Silence and Its Derivatives: Conversations Across Disciplines (2022) and “Moving Images: Photography in Johannesburg,” with Diane Frankel, in Urban Cadence: Street Scenes from Lagos and Johannesburg (2019). Research interests: contemporary American, European, and African art, feminist and postcolonial media, telecommunications history, media theory, materiality studies, archival theory and practice, and oral history. Erin’s dissertation advisor is Cary Levine.

Bust portrait of Emily DuVall

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

Emily DuVall is a Ph.D. candidate working with Dr. Tania String. Emily studies the French Renaissance court, specifically expressions of authority found in royal imagery. Her dissertation investigates the French conceptualization of royal space during the reign of François Ier (1515-1547). Emily is a 2022-2023 Wilson Library Hanes Graduate Fellow consulting UNC’s Rare Book Collection of sixteenth-century maps, travel accounts, and royal pamphlets. Emily has received grants from the UNC Graduate School (2021) and UNC’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program (2021). She previously 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 as the Pierre Daura Graduate Intern at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, Georgia.

Sarah Farkas

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 Farkas is a Ph.D. candidate focusing on sixteenth-century English and German art, advised by Dr. Tatiana C. String. She is especially interested in issues of gender, the Reformation, decorative objects, and jewelry in the early modern world. Her dissertation is tentatively titled “Women’s Consumption: The Portraits and Possessions of Anne of Cleves and Sibylle of Cleves.” She was a 2020-21 Wilson Library Hanes Graduate Fellow working with numerous English books and documents in the Rare Book Collection, the 2020-21 Graduate Intern at the Ackland Art Museum, and the recipient of UNC’s Doctoral Merit Assistantship (2019-2020). She has previously presented papers at the Sixteenth Century Society Conference and the University of Cambridge conference Dressing a Picture: Reimagining the Court Portrait 1500 – 1800. At UNC, she has served as the co-president of the Art Student Graduate Organization and a co-chair of the Art & Art History Department’s 6th annual symposium, Labor Relations. At both UT Austin and UNC, Sarah has worked as a Teaching Assistant and Graduate Research Assistant. While an undergraduate at Oberlin College, Sarah also worked as a Curatorial Assistant for the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Sophie Heldt

Sophie Heldt
Educational History: Wake Forest University, BA in Art History, 2020

Sophie is an MA student in Art History working with Dr. Daniel Sherman. She is a recipient of a Graduate School Merit Fellowship and focuses on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century French art. Sophie is most interested in female artists who lived and worked in fin-de-siècle Paris and depictions of the female nude. She was a 2022 recipient of the Center for European Studies’ Jean Monnet Center of Excellence EU scholarship to conduct research for her MA thesis titled, ““I Paint People to Learn to Know Them”:  Suzanne Valadon and Issues of Identity in Depictions of the Female Nude.” Sophie served as the Graduate Assistant for the John and June Allcott Gallery for the 2021-2022 semester and is currently a Teaching Assistant for the Art History department.

Sydney Herrick

Sydney Herrick
Educational History: BA in Art and Architecture History, Miami University – Oxford, OH (summa cum laude)

Sydney Herrick is a master’s student in the department of Art and Art History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is interested in African and African Diaspora arts and their intersectionality with gender, feminism, and sexuality. Sydney attended Miami University, Oxford, for her undergraduate program. She was awarded the Judith Paetow George Farris Award for academic achievement, the Faculty Award for student writing and research, and the Edna Kelly Scholarship for excellence in art and architecture. She has published several articles, including “Kara Walker, African/American” and “Performing Gender in African Masquerade,” which she presented at the 2021 Annual Dr. Johnathan Riess Colloquium at the University of Cincinnati, OH. Following her graduation, she worked as a curatorial writing intern at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center (2021-2022), a Visitor Relations Specialist at The Contemporary Austin (2021-2022), and a writing intern for the North Carolina Museum of Art (2022). Sydney also assisted in the revision of Dr. Jordan Fenton’s Masquerade and Money in Urban Calabar, published in February of this year. Sydney will be working under Dr. Victoria Rovine.

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.


Savannah Hubbard standing in front of a Tudor portrait.

Savannah Hubbard
Educational History: University of Mississippi, B.A. in Art History, 2021

Savannah is a second-year MA student in Art History working under Dr. Tania String. She broadly focuses on European art of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, primarily English portraiture. Since attending UNC Chapel Hill, she has received funding to conduct research in London and New York City for her MA thesis. The subject of her thesis examines the material culture of Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk. She has served as a teaching assistant and is currently a Graduate Research Consultant. Savannah has also worked as an intern at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

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.

Olivia Janson

Olivia Janson
Educational History: The University of Alabama, B.A. in Art History with minors in Italian and Medieval and Early Modern European Studies, 2022

Olivia Riva Janson is a master’s student in the Art and Art History department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her focus is on the renaissance and the convergence of theology, Italian literature, and women. Olivia attended The University of Alabama for her undergraduate program. She was awarded second place for her paper titled “Le Donne Dietro L’Uomo: La Rete Femminile in torno per Girolamo Savonarola” (The Women Behind the Man: The Female Network surrounding Girolamo Savonarola) for the national Italian honor society, Gamma Kappa Alpha. She has presented several papers including “Vision as Worship in Medieval Culture: the Connection between St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Dante Alighieri” at the Richard Macksey National Humanities Research Symposium at Johns Hopkins University. Olivia also received the Russell J. Drake Scholarship and was nominated for Student Employee of the Year for her work as the Director’s Assistant at the Paul R. Jones Museum.


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.

Samantha Moody

Samantha Moody
Educational History: University of North Florida, B.A. in Art History, 2020

Samantha is a second-year MA student of Dr. Christoph Brachmann. Her research interest is medieval French art with a current specific focus in funerary objects and traditions. She is working on her master’s thesis, titled “’Food for Worms’ and Posthumous Legacy: Uncovering the Political Message of Cardinal Jean de Lagrange’s Avignon Tomb,” which examines the early fifteenth-century funeral monument of a prominent French politician and prelate who played a role in the development of the Western Schism. She explores Lagrange’s principal network of relationships, as well as a body of architectural commissions produced in Papal Avignon in order to identify the underlying political stimulus of the tomb’s varied and complex iconographic program.


Brantly 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

Brantly is a fifth-year PhD candidate and former museum professional. Her dissertation, “Rummaging Drawers, Opening Doors: An Inquiry into Sixteenth-Century Collectors’ Cabinets & their Contents,” imaginatively reconstructs early modern persons’ embodied experience of the Kunstkammer utilizing inventories, written accounts, and extant cabinets. These little-studied technologies of display shaped and reflect early modern perceptions of and interactions with collection objects, fostering attitudes of play, curiosity, and piety. Additional, thematic research interests extend from the medieval to modern periods and include the aesthetics of function and material; historical debates pitting the fine arts versus craft and the applied arts; the history of display, collections, and museums; the organization and production of knowledge in collections; and the visual and architectural culture of medieval pilgrimage. She has received grants from The UNC Graduate School (2020 and 21), Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program, UNC (2019), the University of Amsterdam (2018), and Leiden University (2014).

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.

Imogen Sprio

Eve Svoboda

Eve Svoboda
Educational History: George Washington University, BA in Classical Studies and Art History, 2019; University of Pennsylvania, Post-Baccalaureate in Classical Languages, 2020

Eve is a current master’s student working towards a dual degree in art history and library science and a graduate certificate in digital humanities. She works under Dr. Valladares and focuses on classical art with a particular interest in the connection between art and literature. Her MA thesis explores the reception of the myth of Hylas in Roman art. Eve has held internships at the George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum, the American Academy in Rome, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. She has served as a teaching assistant for the department of Art History and is currently the graduate assistant for the Sloane Art Library. Eve has additional interests in special collections and archives that she has developed through her coursework at SILS. 

Jake Swartz

Jake L. Swartz
Educational History: University of North Carolina Asheville, Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Anthropology, 2019

Jake is a second-year MA student working with Dr. Christoph Brachmann and his research interests are focused broadly within seventeenth-century decorative arts. His Master’s thesis seeks to expand upon issues of iconography, politics, and materiality of automata commissioned by the court of Rudolf II. He also published an undergraduate thesis titled “Divine artistry: The power of Materiality and Craft in Statuette and arm Reliquaries of the Holy Roman Empire.” with the UNC Asheville Journal of Undergraduate Research in May of 2019.

Rachel Sweeney

Rachel Sweeney
Educational History: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dual Degree BA in Art History and History, Certificate in Medieval Studies, 2021

Rachel is an MA student working with Dr. Dorothy Verkerk. She focuses on Celtic art and early medieval art of Ireland and the British Isles. She is also interested in the history of early medieval art’s reception and display during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her MA thesis, titled “‘Souls do not become extinct:’ (Re)Constructing an Iron Age Celtic Identity from the Head Motif,” examines La Tène Celtic constructions of identity through images of the disembodied human head as evidence of a phenomenological response to the social practice of headhunting and its perception by their Classical Greek and Roman neighbors. She is broadly interested in issues of identity, corporeality, and explorations of the spiritual self through material culture. She has also worked extensively on how these issues are present in objects from the early English Sutton Hoo hoard and the early medieval Irish Tara Brooch.

Hannah Williams

Hannah G. Williams
Educational History: University of North Carolina at Wilmington, BA, Art History and English Literature, Certificate in Professional Writing, 2018
University of Georgia, MA with Distinction, Art History, 2020

Hannah is a PhD student of Dr. Tania String specializing in late medieval and early modern Northern European art. Specifically, she examines the devotional experience of tiny haptic sculpture from Northern Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Her MA thesis dealt with similar issues and earned her a distinction from the University of Georgia. She spent a year as a curatorial intern for the European art collection at the North Carolina Museum of Art, and since joining UNC, she has been on the planning committee of the 2022 graduate symposium titled “Matters of Art: Materiality, Functionality, and the Agency of Art Objects” and was elected as the co-president of the Art Student Graduate Organization.


Jennifer Wu

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

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. She 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 E-Journal, Early Modern Classroom supplement, 2020. Jennifer is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Paul Mellon Centre, the Yale Center for British Art, the Harvard Art Museums, and the Folger Institute (Folger Shakespeare Library).

Jihyun Yang

Jihyun Yang
Educational History: Seoul National University, MA in Art History, 2021; Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Department of Philosophy, 2015 – 2016; Seoul National University, BA in Religious Studies and Media Arts, 2013 – 2018

Jihyun Yang is a first-year PhD student in Art History at UNC. Jihyun is especially interested in studying images of the Passion and viewers’ psychological and even physical responses to them in Germany and the Netherlands during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Jihyun hopes to use the lenses of phenomenology and cognitive science to focus on not only the mental but also the physical responses of viewers to these images of suffering. While a graduate student at Seoul National University, Jihyun worked as a researcher for the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation.

Weixin Zhou

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

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.