Current Art History Graduate Students

Graduate students are integral to the scholarly community within the Art History Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. As members of the Art History Graduate Student Association (AHGSA), they engage with visiting guest speakers, attend professional development workshops, and organize social events, like the annual trip to New York City. These events support the growth of professional relationships among graduate students, faculty, alumni, museum staff, and colleagues across different institutions and disciplines.  Officers of the AHGSA are elected annually.

Second Year MA Students

Ashley Botkin, Historical Studies

  • Research Interests: Primitivism outside Europe
  • Education: BA. University of Virginia, Art History and Religious Studies
  • Ashley Botkin’s research interests include Majority World art, postcolonialism, and visual culture. She is currently working on her qualifying paper on early 20th century Modernist Primitivism outside Europe and the ways in which Majority World artists responded to this art movement. Ashley also works in feminist theory and expanding the boundaries of diasporic theory.

Liz Chung, Museum Studies

  • Research Interests: Vernacular Photography, Korean-American Diasporic Experience
  • Education: BA Christopher Newport University, Sociology and Art History
  • Liz’s primary research focus is on the Korean American diasporic experience as mediated through vernacular photography. In particular, she seeks to mine the archives of her family’s history and treat the photo album as a site where shared diasporic and migratory experiences as well as personal stories of familial narratives coalesce together.

Jenah Creecy, Museum Studies

  • Research Interests:
  • Education: BA, Virginia Wesleyan University, English and Art History
  • Jenah Creecy (she/her) was an intern in the Director’s Office of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk as a research assistant and gained curatorial experience through her work with the photography curator. Jenah’s research interests lie in medical portraits taken in 19th century asylums in London.  She is interested in establishing agency in these photographs and viewing them through an art historical lens rather than a medical one. 

Meredith Glasco, Museum Studies

  • Research Interests: Museum Design, Visual Studies and Material Culture
  • Education: BA, University of Mary Washington, Art History and Historic Preservation
  • Growing up in the vibrant Hampton Roads Arts District, Meredith Glasco saw the different ways art could reflect on life itself at the Chrysler Museum of Art. After learning about ancient art to the present, the dynamic nature of contemporary art has become the major focus in her life. Meredith’s current research within the graduate program at VCU examines the intersection of art museum design and the definition of the contemporary American aesthetic, blending visual studies with material culture.

Mary Catherine Langston, Historical Studies

  • Research Interests: Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century European Art with a focus on France
  • Education: B.A. Virginia Commonwealth University, Art History with a minor in History
  • Mary Catherine Langston began her graduate studies in the 4+1 accelerated program in Art History. As an undergraduate, she interned at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Now as an M.A. student, she works as an Exhibition Research Assistant for the European Department at the VMFA. Her research centers around portraiture in both painting and photography. She enjoys focusing on topics that explore the identities of both the sitter and the artist.

Kathryn Long, Historical Studies

  • Research Interests: 19th & 20th Century Jewish-German Art, Provenance
  • Education:  B.A. James Madison University, Art History & German
  • Kathryn Long attended James Madison University for her undergraduate career, where she earned degrees in Art History and German, as well as completing a concentration in Museum Studies. She has worked as an archive and gallery intern at the Madison Art Collection and as an exhibitions intern and provenance researcher for the Ludwig and Rosie Fischer Collection of German Expressionist Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Kathryn is fluent in English, Swedish, and German, and this ultimately affects her research and how she perceives the world. Her research centers on Jewish and female identity in German-speaking Europe realm through the lens of Art History, where she investigates acculturation and assimilation across generations, social class, gender, national borders, and how commissioned portraits provide outward presentations of the self.

First-Year MA Students

Dionah Bryant, Museum Studies

  • Research Interests: Art of the African Diaspora, African American Identity and Culture
  • Education: BS University of South Carolina, Fashion Mechandising and Digital Innovation
  • After graduating from USC, Dionah began her experience in the museum world. She had the opportunity to take part in many hands-on curatorial and exhibition projects at galleries and museums in Charleston, sparking her ongoing interest in the visual arts. After interning at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and working at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, she developed a particular interest in the work of artists and communtities underrepresented in art historiography and museums. She currently works part-time as a Visitor Services Associate for the International African American Museum in Charleston, SC.

Julia Clark, Museum Studies

  • Research Interests: Oceanic Art, Queer and Activist Art
  • Education: BFA Virginia Commonwealth University, Cinema
  • Julia has had a lifelong passion for art and history. Her research focuses on identity, intersectionality, and the arts of Oceania. Her other interests are gender, sexuality, Indigenous cultures, as well as activist art, 20th century photography, and queer art.

Lauryn Gilliam, Museum Studies

  • Research Interests: African American Art, Photography
  • Education: BA, Virginia Commonwealth University, English
  • Lauryn found an unexpected love for art history after taking on a minor in the department in her junior year. Lauryn’s focus is primarily African American art, specifically photography and portraits of the 19th century.  She’s largely interested in dismantling the Western canon in museums and exploring their engagement with non-European art. Lauryn also has a background in photography.

Cameron Judd, Historical Studies, 4+1 Accelerated BA/MA Program

  • Research Interests: Postmodern Art, Visual Culture, Late American Modernism
  • Education: Virginia Commonwealth University, Art History (2024)
  • Cameron’s passion for Art History began with undergraduate studies at VCU, which led her to the 4+1 accelerated program in Art History. She has worked as an intern at the Rosewell Foundation I researching the names of all who were enslaved there for use in the primary exhibition in the Foundation’s gallery. She has recently enjoyed exploring intermedia art, installation art, and the intersection of art and visual culture.

Drew Lynch, Historical Studies

  • Research Interests: Global Modernisms
  • Education: BA, Virginia Commonwealth University, Art History
  • Alongisde her major in Art History, Drew minored in sociology. She tries to bring her
    background in sociology to her art historical research through investigations around transcultural
    forms of identity as well as representations of memory, and their role in developing global modernisms. Drew is also interested in the reciprocal interchange between individual and socio-
    cultural factors that exists within society. Such factors include gender, race, sexuality, political
    contexts, and cultural practices. In this analysis Drew aims to bring attention to artists and
    movements that have historically been overlooked and misrepresented. In her free time Drew
    enjoys cooking, reading, drawing/painting, watching scary movies, hiking, and kayaking.

Emily Mackenzie, Museum Studies

  • Research Interests: Art of the Ancient Mediterranean
  • Education: BA William & Mary, Classical Archaeology
  • After earning her bachelor’s degree and studying at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, Emily turned to museum studies at VCU to continue exploring art history. Her research is on art of the ancient Mediterranean including Greece, Rome, and Egypt, focusing on identities that are often overlooked in these areas. She is also passionate about the accessibility of art and museums. In her free time, she enjoys prop building and sewing.

Kristen Mayo

  • Research Interests: 19 th and 20 th Century Photography
  • Education: BA, Virginia Commonwealth University, Art History
  • Kristen’s journey in art history began in community college before transferring to VCU. Her research focuses on a Foucauldian approach to 19th and 20th-century photography. She wants to understand how certain photographs came into being and what world allowed them to exist. Dealing with the depictions of women of color in photographs, especially black women, Kristen is interested in understanding how powerful images can shape someone’s perception of another. When not studying or working, Kristen enjoys walking every day, playing RPGs, cosplaying, and writing comics.

Sarah Pixley

  • Research Interests: Craft and Craft History, Women’s Art
  • Education: BA University of Richmond, English and Fine Art
  • Sarah is an artist turned art historian whose research heavily features women artists, craft and
    textiles. Coming from an undergraduate career at the University of Richmond, Sarah is focused now on museums. Outside of her research on craft and women’s art, she also has interests in museum ethics, education, and theatre. Her personal hobbies include embroidery, costume design and poetry.

Doctoral Students

Sarah Edith Kleinman, Ph.D. Candidate, Curatorial Concentration

  • Research Interests: Modern and Contemporary Art in a Global Context, Museum Studies
  • Education: B.A., Political Science, Art History, Studio Art, University of Colorado at Boulder M.A., Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Sarah Edith Kleinman’s research focuses on modern and contemporary art and museum studies. Her dissertation investigates the curatorial practices and exhibitions of Kynaston McShine, who is best known for organizing the first museum surveys in America of minimalism and conceptual art. Her area of specialization is twentieth- and twenty-first-century art in a global context, with a special interest in post-colonial, feminist, and literary theory. She is also interested in the intersections of political science and art history, which she incorporated into her 2016 master’s thesis, “Hans Haacke’s GERMANIA: Deconstructing the Historical Germanies.” Sarah interned in the Director’s Office and Curatorial Department at the VMFA. She has also worked as an independent digital archivist and conservator for artists Rubin Peacock, Myron Helfgott, and Marty Johnson. In the summer of 2019, she joined Reynolds Gallery to research and organize the exhibition Theresa Pollak: The Wonder of Life, which commemorated the 90th anniversary of VCUarts. Among many awards and grants, Sarah is the recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship to Trinidad and Tobago and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Graduate Fellowship for Art History for 2018–2019.

Kate Sunderlin, Ph.D. Candidate, Curatorial Studies Concentration

  • Research Interests: American Art, Nineteenth-Century Art, with a particular focus on sculpture
  • Education: B.A., Pepperdine University (Art History), M.A.s from the University of Notre Dame (Art History) and the University of Oklahoma (Museum Studies)
  • Kate is currently writing her dissertation on how plaster objects in Edward V. Valentine’s studio and the early Valentine museum play into the critical and art historical discussion surrounding the repercussions of racism, slavery, colonialism, and empire. She is acting as a consultant for the Valentine Museum’s reinterpretation of Edward Valentine’s studio in order to address its problematic narratives and redeploy the space as a location for community conversations about Lost Cause public art and mythologies, the Jim Crow era, and their continuing impact on the city of Richmond. She balances work on her dissertation and as a museum consultant with her work at the B.A. Sunderlin Bellfoundry, a business she co-owns with her husband. She runs the tour program, introducing guests to the field of campanology – the study of bells – as well as the daily workings of an active bronze foundry.