Graduate Students

Graduate students contribute significantly to the scholarly community within the department. As members of Art History Graduate Students Association (ARTH GSA), they organize an annual program of guest speakers, professional development workshops, and social events. This important suite of events fosters professional relationships among graduate students, faculty, museum professionals, alumni, and colleagues at other universities and/or in other fields.

Through their monthly meetings, the GSA also gathers input about departmental decisions that concern graduate students, such as requests for new technology (e.g., computers, printers, scanners) and policies/procedures for the Graduate Lab, which is a dedicated work space shared by all graduate students. GSA officers, who are elected each year, administer the association, while opportunities to serve on event planning committees are available to all members.

Current Graduate Students

Amanda Dalla Villa AdamsAmanda Dalla Villa Adams
A Ph.D. candidate, Amanda specializes in post-1945 American art. Her dissertation is tentatively titled: “‘The Pain of Loving a Place:’ Sally Mann’s Gelatin-Silver Photographs of Home, Ortho Photographs of the South, and Wet-Plate Collodion Self-Portraits.” Amanda obtained her BFA in Sculpture from VCU and MA in Art History and Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Cincinnati; her thesis considered the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Before returning to VCU, she worked as a Junior Specialist in Fine and Decorative Arts at Cowan’s Auctions Inc. and taught studio art at Virginia State University. She has presented her research domestically and internationally, and this fall she will chair panels at the annual MACAA and SECAC conferences. In addition to contributing art criticism for publications including Artforum.com and Sculpture Magazine, Amanda’s research has appeared in the peer-reviewed, Archives of American Art, and graduate-journal, Montage. Recently, Amanda co-curated the exhibition, Hoss Haley: YIELD (Sept.-Oct., 2015), and curated the exhibition, Emily Erb: Loosely Loaded (June-Aug., 2016), both at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. This year, in addition to continuing to serve as a VMFA Statewide Speaker on the Arts, she will be teaching contemporary art at the College of William and Mary.

Andrea Alvarez
Andrea is presently serving as Curatorial Fellow at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. She is also a PhD candidate with a focus on modern and contemporary art. In her dissertation, she examines the relationship between the artwork and pedagogy of Josef Albers, a twentieth-century German-born American artist and teacher. Her area of specialization is twentieth-century painting, with a special interest in theories of color, modernism, and the relationship between art history and adjacent humanities disciplines including philosophy. In her role as Curatorial Fellow at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, she has curated The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing and was the co-organizer of We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85, a traveling exhibition curated by the Brooklyn Museum. She is also the primary contributing author to the museum’s forthcoming collection handbook and assists with various additional writing and research projects in support of the curatorial department. Among many awards and grants, Andrea was the recipient of a five-year doctoral fellowship awarded by the Southern Regional Education Board from 2012-2017.

Nora Butkovich
Nora is first year MA student on the historical studies track. She received her BA in art history at Meredith College, located in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2016. In 2015 she presented at the undergraduate session at the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC), “Challenges and Contradictions: Käthe Kollwitz and German Culture Between the Wars”, which explored the German Expressionist Käthe Kollwitz and her exclusion from Hitler’s Berlin Degenerate Art exhibition. During that same year Nora was a Modern and Contemporary Curatorial Intern at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Her research focus is in early 20th Century Central-Eastern European Expressionism artists, specifically Slavic women. Current countries of interest are Poland and the Czech Republic. This research examines the exclusion of these artists, despite their contemporary popularity, from the current art historical canon and how they depicted their nationalistic feelings through art.

Sarah Ann Campbell
Sarah Ann Campbell is a MA/PHD student and teaching assistant whose research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first century visual culture and curatorial methods. She began pursuing her MA in Art History at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, holds a BA in Art History and a BFA in Sculpture from the University of Tennessee, and earned a certificate in Introduction to Textile Preservation (instructed by Harold Mailand) from the International Preservation Studies Center in Illinois. Sarah was the Curator of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s art collection from 2013 to 2016 and is currently the Curator of the Virginia National Guard Museum. She has been interviewed by Hyperallergic (March 2015) and Spectrum News NY1 (May 2016) and co-authored an article on World War I campaign hats with Alexander Barnes in Military Trader (May 2017). Sarah enjoys giving community lectures and recently presented her talk When Preservation is Personal to the Daughters of the American Revolution and to the Mathews Memorial Library to share how to adapt museum preservation strategies for historic objects and archives in one’s home.

Haley Clouser
Haley Clouser is a first-year Master’s art history student on the museum studies track. Her focus includes issues of collections management and curation, particularly concerning modern, contemporary art. In 2015, she received her Bachelor of arts in art history and history at George Mason University, where she began her professional path in the museum field at institutions like the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Hirshhorn Museum. Since then, Haley has worked in the archives department at the American Civil War Museum and currently interns in the registrar department at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Apart from her professional career, she has presented at the University of Oregon’s “Contested Memories” research symposium in which she assessed the resolutions proposed for Richmond’s controversial Confederate monuments and serves as the Vice Treasurer of VCU’s Art History Graduate Student Association. Haley has also published academic papers and critical art reviews, as seen with her article “Whose R-Evolution?” in Burnaway Magazine. 

Taylor Dean
Taylor M. Dean is an MA candidate on the museum studies track. Taylor received her BA in Comparative Cultural Studies, emphasis in Art History, and minoring in Museum Studies from Northern Arizona University in 2016. Taylor primarily studies nineteenth-century art and her current research for her master’s qualifying paper focuses on the historiography of picture frames. Taylor has been a curatorial intern for three consecutive semesters in the European Art department at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. During her time at the VMFA Taylor co-curated an exhibition entitled STEINLEN: Cats (November 2017 – May 2018). Taylor received the Bruce M. Koplin Award in Museum Studies in the fall of 2017.

forsterMatthew Forster
Matthew is an MA candidate, PhD student, and Graduate Teaching Assistant. He earned his BA in Art History, with Honors, from the University of Maryland at College Park. Matthew studies nineteenth- and early twentieth-century visual culture with an emphasis on commercial art and queer representation. He is currently continuing research on a project that investigates American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker and the homoerotic aspects of his advertising images. In 2016, he presented a variation of this research as part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Tuesday Colloquium series. Additionally, Matthew is the recipient of both a VCUarts Graduate Research Grant, as well as a Department Travel Grant for the 2017-18 academic year. These grants will support the completion of this project, which serves as his MA qualifying paper.

Samantha-KaramSamantha Karam Encarnacion
Samantha is a PhD student and graduate teaching assistant whose research focuses on early- to mid-twentieth century American and European art, especially on theories of modernism and the avant-garde. Samantha is also interested in animal theory, feminist theory, and surrealist scholarship, which she incorporated into her 2013 master’s thesis, “Art and Becoming-Animal: Reconceptualizing the Animal Imagery in Dorothea Tanning’s Post-1955 Paintings.” As she begins her doctoral work, Samantha is expanding her research interests to include archival theory and practice, which she anticipates will form the basis of her dissertation.

John Hebble
Focusing on American art and architecture, John Hebble is a Ph.D. candidate currently completing the dissertation “Conceptual Art Photography: An Investigation of Medium and Discourse in Selected Works by Mel Bochner, Dan Graham, Adrian Piper, and Bruce Nauman” under the direction of Dr. Babatunde Lawal. In 2010 John earned a B.A. in History from East Stroudsburg University, and in 2014 he received an M.A. in Art History from VCU. While at VCU, he served under Dr. Robert Hobbs as the Thalheimer Research Assistant in American Art from 2011-2013. A portion of his Master’s Thesis, a complete architectural reevaluation of the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was published in a 2013 issue of Palladiana. Also in 2013, John was named as the PattersonResearch Fellow by the Friends of the Longfellow House. Over the course of his graduate studies, John has presented at numerous conferences and symposia, both nationally and internationally. Currently, he teaches courses in art history at a number of colleges in northern New Jersey; is an Historic Educator at Waterloo Village Historic Site in Byram, New Jersey; and serves on the Warren County Parks Foundation Board of Trustees.

Samantha Hendricks
Samantha S. Hendricks is a MA student on the historical studies track. She earned her BS in Biology at Coastal Carolina University, followed by a BS in Medical Technology at Armstrong Atlantic State University before pursuing her interests in art by spending time abroad in Paris. Studying pastry at Le Cordon Bleu she quickly learned basic French for the kitchen and for her time spent researching in the Louvre Museum. After a short stint in her native home Germany, she returned to the United States to work on prerequisites in Art History. In the fall of 2017, she began her research studies at VCU focusing on Art Nouveau and Jugendstil. She is interested in how stylistic nuances laced with nationalistic tendencies came to be known under the all-encompassing term Art Nouveau through the use of the sinuous line and promoters of the arts, such as Siegfried Bing.

M Hill
M Hill is an MA candidate on the historical studies track. They received their BFA in Kinetic Imaging from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016. M’s research is concentrated in producing queer and postcolonial analysis of contemporary new media art, with specific focus on the work Juliana by artist Frank Benson. In 2017, they presented a paper on this piece titled, “Disrupting the Female Nude: Transitional Forms in Digital Space” at the 25th Annual Art History Graduate Student Symposium at Indiana University. M is currently the Administrative Coordinator for VCUarts’s student-oriented, contemporary gallery space, The Anderson.

kimberlyjacobsKimberly Jacobs
Kimberly joined the Department of Art History as a PhD student in 2015. Her work focuses largely on African diaspora artists and exploring the relationships between black craftsmanship in contemporary art, transcultural aesthetics, and black performance theory. She received her MA in History at Jackson State University in 2014. Her master’s thesis “Approaching Africanisms: An Analysis of Ornamental Ironwork in the American South” provided a close examination of ornamental iron balconies and gates in southern cities such as New Orleans, Louisiana and Charleston, South Carolina. She served as Gallery Director (2010 – 2015), and later as adjunct faculty in the Department of History and Philosophy at Jackson State. She has worked with the Mississippi Museum of Art on public programs and exhibitions including The Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art (2012). As a Romare Bearden Fellow (2013-2014) at the Saint Louis Art Museum, Kimberly co-curated the exhibition Anything but Civil: Kara Walker’s Vision of the Old South (2014). She is currently a Curatorial Research Intern at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU.

Monica Kinsey
Monica Kinsey is an MA candidate on the Museum Studies track. She received her BA in Art History from VCU in 2013. Following graduation, Monica held positions at The Center for Creative Arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Page Bond Gallery, and ADA Gallery. Monica is currently on the Event Production Team at CreativeMornings Richmond. She acts as the Volunteer Coordinator for arts events and organizations including InLight, 1708 Gallery’s annual one night exhibition of light-based art and performances, as well as the Visual Arts Center of Richmond and CURRENT Art Fair. Her research interests include counter-monuments and the contextualization of the commemorative landscape, the interpretation of diverse histories in museums, art-based community building initiatives, and the role of the digital in museum education.

Sarah Kleinman
Faculty Advisor: Peggy Lindauer
Sarah Edith Kleinman is a PhD candidate specializing in Modern and Contemporary Art and Museum Studies. She holds a BA in Art History, Political Science, and Studio Art from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2016, she completed her MA at VCU, writing her Masters qualifying paper on Hans Haacke’s 1993 Venice Biennale installation, GERMANIA. Her professional experience includes two internships at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), where she worked in directorial and curatorial capacities. Sarah also has expertise in digital archiving and art historical consulting for professional artists. Her graduate work has been supported through a 2014–2016 graduate teaching assistantship in the Department of Art History, the 2016–2017 Hamad-bin-Khalifa Assistantship in Art History, and a number of scholarships and fellowships.

As a Fulbright scholar, Sarah is relocating to Trinidad and Tobago in August 2018 to conduct research for her dissertation, “The Curatorial Practice of Kynaston McShine, 1969–1971.” She is also the recipient of the 2018–19 VMFA Graduate Fellowship for Art History. She is currently the Interim Assistant Director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships at the University of Richmond, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Art History at VCU.

Maureen O’Connor
Maureen is a second year MA Candidate and graduate teaching assistant on the Museum Studies track. She received her BA in History and English from the University of Virginia in 2015 and, following her graduation, participated in a yearlong teaching fellowship in Dorset, England. Her area of specialization is twentieth-century American art and museum education pedagogy. Her current research explores the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’ Artmobile and its relationship to mid- to late 20th century museum education practice. Maureen has participated in internships at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Art.

Kate Sunderlin
Kate is a PhD candidate at Virginia Commonwealth University and currently writing her dissertation. Her project focuses on the use of plaster in nineteenth-century America in three contexts – the artist’s studio, the art academy, and the public museum – examined through specific case studies of artists and institutions within Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Before coming to Virginia Commonwealth University, Kate worked as the Associate Curator for Ruthmere, a historic home in Elkhart, IN. She earned her Master’s Degrees from the University of Oklahoma and The University of Notre Dame in Museum Studies and Art History, respectively. In addition to her academic career, Kate also serves as the Office Manager and Tour Director at the B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry in Ruther Glen, VA, which she and her husband own and operate.

Anna Talarico
Anna Talarico is a first year MA/Ph.D. student in VCU’s Art History Program on the Curatorial Track. Her research interests include 20th-century American Art, Exhibition Histories, and Museum Histories. Originally from Charlotte, NC, Anna received Bachelors of Arts degrees in History of Art and French from The Ohio State University. Anna has held internships at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC and at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH, among other institutions. 

Saskia Turpijn
After completing an MA in Art History, with a specialization in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century print portraits in Northern Europe and Italy, Saskia currently is a PhD student on the historical track with a major in nineteenth-century European art and a minor in Museum Studies. Her specific interest is in nineteenth-century reproductive prints. She works as a volunteer in the Frank Raysor Study Center of Works on Paper of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.