Graduate Students

Graduate students contribute significantly to the scholarly community within the department. As members of Art History Graduate Students Association (AHGSA), 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 AHGSA 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. AHGSA 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

Andrea Alvarez
Andrea is recently served as  aCuratorial 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.

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. 

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.

 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.

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.

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.

Hannah Kiefer headshotHannah Kiefer
Hannah is a first-year MA student on the Museum Studies track. She received a BA in Art History from UNC Chapel Hill in 2014, and in the time since has held positions in education at The Charlotte Museum of History and The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and in development at The Arts and Science Council, all in Charlotte, North Carolina. Other experiences after completing her undergraduate program include interning with the North Carolina Museum of Art and volunteer-teaching at Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools. She is interested in depictions of race in 20th-century American art and in artists and museums that address colonial legacies.

Portrait of Naomi EdmondsonNaomi Edmondson
Naomi is a first year Masters student on the Historical Studies track, the Vice President of the Art History Graduate Student Association, and a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Her research interests include late nineteenth to early twentieth century art and culture. She is broadly interested in the early roots of Modern Art in France, with a particular interest in female artists working in Paris at the turn of the century. Naomi received her Bachelor’s Degree from the College of Charleston, where she double majored in Art History and Studio Art, and took part in two internships at the Gibbes Museum of Art, an American art museum, assisting the Education Department. Following her graduation in 2016, Naomi worked for a brief time at the Gibbes Museum, before relocating to North Carolina, where she worked as the Gallery Manager for a fine art gallery before beginning graduate study.