Current MA/PhD Students
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.
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.
Educational History: College of William and Mary, B.A. in Art History with a minor in Management and Organizational Leadership, 2019
Rachel is a first-year PhD student in the department of Art and Art History at UNC. Her undergraduate honors thesis examined the negotiation of visual culture and public space by African Americans in antebellum New York City through the previously unexplored nineteenth-century painting “Servants at a Pump” by Italian-American artist Nicolino Calyo. Rachel’s research probes the relationship between racialized identities and depictions of public green spaces in American art. She is interested in the role of landscape in the American art canon and in the formation of national identity. Before beginning the PhD 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.
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.
Educational History: University of Georgia, M.A. in Art History, 2019; Birmingham-Southern College, B.A. in History and Art History, 2016
Emily DuVall is an Art History Ph.D. student working with Dr. Tania String. Emily studies the French Renaissance court, specifically the origins and endurance of royal symbols. Her dissertation addresses the demonstration of power and the possession of space following the Hundred Years’ War, as seen in depictions of ceremonial entries and the royal hunt. She 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.
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 sixteenth-century English and German art of the Reformation, working with Dr. Tania String. She is especially interested in issues of gender, decorative objects, and jewelry in the early modern world. She is a 2020-21 Wilson Library Hanes Graduate Fellow working with numerous objects in the Rare Book Collection and was the 2020-21 Graduate Intern at the Ackland Art Museum. While an undergraduate at Oberlin College, Sarah also worked as a curatorial assistant for the Allen Memorial Art Museum.
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.
Educational History: Wake Forest University, BA in Art History, 2020
Sophie is a Master’s student in Art History at UNC focusing on late 19th century and early 20th century French art. She is a recipient of a Graduate School Merit Fellowship and the Graduate Assistant for the John and June Allcott Gallery. Sophie is especially interested in studying artists who lived and worked in turn-of-the-century Paris and wants to explore the dynamic between form, perception, and psychology in relation to these artists’ creative processes. She hopes her background as a visual artist, particularly in painting and printmaking, will lend a unique perspective to her art historical research.
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.
Educational History: University of Mississippi, B.A. in Art History, 2021
Savannah is currently a master’s student in Art History at UNC- Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the program, Savannah interned at the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi. Broadly, she is interested in 15th & 16th century English court art. More specifically, her research consists of tracing the visual evolution of female beauty standards as seen through Medieval and early Renaissance portraiture.
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.
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.
Andrea C. Snow
Educational History: MA, Art History and Visual Culture, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (2016)
Andrea is a PhD candidate studying medieval art. Her dissertation, “A Language of Snakes: Supernatural Objects in Medieval Scandinavia,” creates an art-historical framework for interpreting the relationships between the worldly and the divine in Old Norse material culture. She has presented on this topic both nationally and internationally, and has published her research in Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2020) as well as Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft (forthcoming). Although she is foremost a scholar of the medieval far North, her other research interests are geographically unlimited and include somaesthetics, especially as they relate to touch, vision, and the imagination; blood, miraculous bleeding, the fragmentation of the body, medievalism in popular culture, and the historiography of art history. Andrea is a regular book reviewer for the interdisciplinary journal, Religion and the Arts, and a contributor to Smarthistory. She is also a 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, a 2019 teaching award from the Undergraduate Student Union, and the 2021 Sarah and Thomas Watkins Summer Research Fellowship. She aims to create an inclusive, cross-disciplinary intellectual climate throughout her career.
Jake L. Swartz
Educational History: University of North Carolina Asheville, Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Anthropology, 2019
I am a first year Master student and my research concerns ideas of power, prestige, and the materiality of statuette and arm reliquaries of the Holy Roman Empire. I am also interested in the veneration of saints during Medieval Europe. I published my 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. I Presented this research at the at The Southeast Regional Undergraduate Research Scholarly and Creative Activity Conference in Milledgeville, GA during the spring of 2019. I also presented my research at The Spring Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Community Engagement in Asheville, North Carolina. During my time between undergraduate and graduate school I worked closely with the North Carolina Museum of Art, in the Advancement Department. I plan on pursuing my master’s degree in art history at the university of North Carolina and eventually pursuing a Ph.D. specializing in Medieval art and architecture.