Graduate Students, 2014-15

Graduate Students


Julia Barber

Julia received her B.A. in Art History and French from Swarthmore College in 2009. During her time at Swarthmore, she completed a French-language thesis on Eugène Atget, inspired in part by her work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with that institution's magnificent collection of Atget's photographs. After graduation, Julia worked as a curatorial assistant at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where she honed her interest in museum and exhibition theory. At Brown, she studies the Linked Ring and other organizations fighting for the acknowledgement of photography as a fine art at the turn of the twentieth century.


Monica Bravo

Monica is a fourth-year doctoral candidate specializing in the history of photography, within the modern art and American art traditions. She received her B.A. in Studio Art from Dartmouth College in 2004, and M.A. in Art History and Criticism from Stony Brook University in 2009. She has held positions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  Her dissertation examines cultural contributions to a Greater American modernism in the interwar period through exchanges between U.S. modernist photographers and modern Mexican artists working in visual art, poetry, and music.


Alexandra Collins Mathwig

Alexandra Collins Mathwig studies the history of photography, with a particular focus on contemporary American subjects. She received her BA in Art History and Archaeology from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010. Her undergraduate honors thesis, “Not So Beautiful: A Contextual Analysis of Martha Rosler’s Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful,” examined Rosler’s politically motivated series of photomontages on the Vietnam War. She presented a version of this project focusing on the feminist implications of Rosler’s series at the South Eastern College Art Conference in 2010 entitled “False Dichotomies: Martha Rosler’s Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful.” Her current research focuses on John Szarkowski's tenure as Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1962 to 1991. 


Suzanne Duff

Suzanne specializes in art of the Lowlands in the Early Modern Era, particularly in 16th-century Antwerp. She received her B.A. in Art History from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and her M.A. in Art History from University of Washington. Suzanne’s research interests include history and theory of collections, global exchanges, print culture, and art and science in Early Modern Europe.


Lia Dykstra

Lia Dykstra is studying Medieval sacred architecture. She received a B.A. with honors from Vassar College, where she specialized in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and French. For her undergraduate thesis, she worked on Viollet-le-Duc’s 19th century restoration of Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, transcribing the Journal des Travaux for the first time and annotating certain key moments of the text. As an Andrew W. Mellon fellow at Brown, her research includes the relationship between space and the performance of ritual, as well as questions of the way a building changes over time due to restorations. 


Emily Handlin

Emily is a fourth-year graduate student focusing on the history of photography.  She received her B.A. in Classical Language and Literature from the University of Chicago in 2004 and an M.A. in Art History from the University of Arizona in 2009. Her research explores Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic motion studies and intersections between art and science in Philadelphia during the late 19th century. 


Sara Hayat

Sara holds a B.Arch and an M.Arch from the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, where she has also co-taught studio courses on and theater- and film-set design with urban historian Jean-François Lejeune and California based media artist Juan Azulay. Her research interests include phenomenological approaches to architecture, theories of spatiality, and the relationship between moving images and the built environment. In her current work at Brown, Sara observes the various attempts within postwar German architectural circles to come to terms with the memory of the Holocaust and the Second World War. She particularly investigates and challenges the former Bauhaus member Otto Bartning’s postwar theory on “working through” the National Socialist past by revisiting and redefining culturally established notions of space.


Amy Huang 

Amy S. Huang joined Brown University in 2010. She specializes in Chinese art history with a focus on literati painting and collecting practices of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. She is currently working on her dissertation, "Meditating on the Past: reading paintings of seventeenth-century Nanjing through the literary tradition of Jinling huaigu." Before coming to Brown, Amy completed a BA in Management Information Systems in Taiwan (2004). After college, her interest in museums brought her to the UK where she received an MA in Museum Studies from University College London (2005). Coming to the United States in 2008 to pursue graduate studies in the history of art , Amy received an MA in Asian Art History from Boston University (2010) with a thesis on the collecting practice s of the 17th-century Chinese art collector Gao Shiqi. Amy 's research has been supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, and she has worked as a curatorial intern in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Peabody Essex Museum. 


I-Fen Huang

I-Fen Huang is a Ph.D. candidate of late Chinese art. She received her MA from National Taiwan University, served as curator of the Shih-t'ou Shu-wu Collection and worked as a graduate intern at the International Center of Photography in New York prior to coming to Brown. Focusing on the Gu Family style embroidery made in seventeenth-century Shanghai and other regions in southeast China in the succeeding three centuries, her dissertation explores issues such as the commodification of literati culture, and interrelationship between needlecraft and gender in late imperial and modern China. I-Fen’s research has been supported by the Academia Sinica, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and the Smithsonian Institution. Her current research at the Freer and Sackler Galleries explores the technical aspect of textile art production and its cultural meanings.


Alexis Jackson

Alexis Jackson is studying Medieval architecture and material culture. She received her B.A. with honors from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012, where she studied European History, Art History, and Classical Studies. In 2011, she participated in the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project, studying the Bronze Age Aegean, which inspired her interest in landscape archaeology. In 2013, she excavated with the University of L’Aquila at the site of Amiternum, in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Alexis’ interests include the study of how medieval hospitals and monastic outbuildings relate to the greater (physical and social) monastic landscape in the Middle Ages. As an S4 Fellow, she is also particularly interested in the utilization of GIS technologies in the re-imaging and re-evaluation of monastic spaces and landscapes.


Wei Jiang

Wei Jiang specializes in Chinese art history, with a focus on scholar paintings during the Song and Yuan period. She received her B.S. in Computer Science and Information Science from Binghamton University and M.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She took art history classes at the University of Chicago before joining Brown University in 2006. Wei is currently finishing her dissertation which investigates a twelfth century narrative painting that illustrates a famous poem, “Second Rhapsody on the Red Cliff.” She intends to reveal the intricate interactions between word and image, poetry and painting, and narrative and lyric experiences, while at the same time lead inquiries into the broader issues of art and politics, cultural context and convention, and court and scholar painting traditions. She presented part of her research in 20th Annual Columbia Graduate Student Conference on East Asia in 2011, Frick Symposium on the History of Art in 2011, and AAS Annual Conference in 2013. 


Josie Johnson               

Josie studies the history of photography. She received her B.A. from Stanford University, where she studied Art History and Slavic Language and Literature. Before entering Brown, Josie worked as a curatorial assistant at the Cantor Arts Center and a curatorial intern at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her interests include Russian art and architecture, museum history, and interwar photography.



Peter Levins


Ruth W. Lo

Ruth W. Lo is a Ph.D. candidate studying the history of architecture and urbanism. She holds a B.A. in Architecture and a B.A. in Italian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where she spent a year studying at the University of Bologna in Italy. She worked at Steven Holl Architects prior to returning to graduate school at Cornell University, where she received her M.A. in the History of Architecture and Urban Development. Her current research is on food, architecture, and urban planning of Rome during the first half of the twentieth century. Ruth is the Donald and Maria Cox Pre-Doctoral Rome Prize Fellow in Modern Italian Studies at the American Academy in Rome during academic years 2013-2015.


Emilia Mickevicius

Emilia Mickevicius is studying the history of photography in relation to modern and contemporary art. She received her B.A. with Honors from the University of Chicago in 2011, where she studied art history and visual art. In her undergraduate thesis she examined the modernist photographer Paul Strand’s The Mexican Portfolio and subsequent film projects. She also interned at the Art Institute of Chicago in the departments of Prints & Drawings and Photography. Emmy’s interests include the representation of landscape and environment, the legacy of the 1975 George Eastman House exhibition New Topographics, the rise of color in art photography, directorial and tableau photographs, and art theory and criticism.


Emily Monty


Emily Chace Morash

Emily received her B.A. from Smith College in Art History and Italian Language and Literature (2004), where she spent a year studying in Florence, Italy. Emily then received her M.A. from the University of Virginia in Architectural History (2006). Her M.A. Thesis is titled, “The Città Universitaria and Cultivating a National Identity: Fascist-sponsored Urban Projects and Architecture in Rome.” Emily has worked at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and is the former president of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians. She has taught for the Historic Preservation Program for RISD’s Continuing Education Department, and is currently a visiting instructor at Connecticut College.  Emily’s dissertation, Rethinking Italian Domestic Architecture: Gio Ponti, Milan, and Lo Stile, 1941-1947,  examines the development of domestic architecture in the final years of the fascist period and the Second World War and into the immediate postwar period. Her research interests include modern domestic architecture, the role media (film, periodicals, and other publications) plays in the development of modern architecture, and the publicity of modern architecture through exhibitions. Emily has presented her research at the NESAH Student Symposium and at the Annual Meetings of the Society of Architectural Historians.


Sarah Rovang

Sarah is a Ph.D. Candidate focusing on the history of architecture. She received her BA in Architectural History from the University of Virginia in 2010. Her 2011 qualifying paper, "The Electrified Farm: Science and Consumer Culture at the 1939 New York World's Fair" follows an attempt to use modern architecture to sell a new consumer lifestyle to America's agrarian populations. Research interests include the architecture of World's Fairs, the influence of technology and electricity on the American built environment, and as well as the role of the New Deal in shaping a new public landscape. Her dissertation contextualizes the building activities of the Rural Electrification Administration during the 1930s and '40s within a broader visual and material culture of "rural modernism."


Joseph Silva

Ph.D. candidate, Brown University
M.A., Syracuse University, Florence, Italy
B.A., Wheaton College, Norton, MA 

I study the visual and material culture of Renaissance Italy with a specific focus on ducal Tuscany. My dissertation explores the artistic programs associated with the Naval Knighthood of Saint Stephen in Pisa and Florence. 


Rebecca Szantyr

Rebecca Szantyr researches the visual and material culture of the global 18th century. After receiving her B.A. in art history from Vassar College in 2003, she worked for a prominent dealer of 19th century European and American painting before commencing her graduate studies.  As a recipient of the Cleveland Museum of Art Fellowship, she completed her M.A. in Art History at Case Western Reserve University in 2010, writing a master’s thesis that examined Johan Zoffany’s conversation pieces in India before and after the 1785 departure of Governor-General Warren Hastings.  

At Brown, Rebecca’s work concentrates on the Atlantic World during the long 18th century.  Her qualifying paper, “White-Washing the Docklands: Visualizing London’s Maritime East End” investigates representations of black mariners in print and the cityscape in the decades following the American Revolutionary War. Her dissertation reappraises the artistic category of “colonial American,” through the case of John Greenwood, an artist whose life and career crossed the Anglo-Dutch Atlantic.

Rebecca has held positions in the curatorial departments of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Cleveland Museum of Art, Yale Center for British Art, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.


Veronica Totos

Vera received a B.A. from Colgate University and an M.A. in Art History from Williams College. She wrote her Master's Thesis on Hungarian cinema, titled "Camera Choreography and Empathy in Béla Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies." She entered Brown in 2009, where she studies nineteenth and early twentieth century film and photography. Her interests include history of animation, the changing views on the objectivity of photographs, montage and manipulation of film footage. Her qualifying paper, titled "Mechanizing Vision: Vertov and the Camera-Eye" focused on Dziga Vertov's views on the camera as a machine suited for the exploration of "truth" of the visible world. Vera participated in curating the exhibition "Reading Ritual: Festival Books from the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection," and contributed an essay on the 1856 coronation book of tsar Alexander II of Russia. She was member of the organizing committee for  the graduate student symposium  titled "The Human Scale: Bodies, Space, Perception, and Interaction" in 2010.

Kelly Whitford

Kelly received her B.A in Art History from Carleton College (2006) and her M.A. in Art History from the University of Oregon (2011).  Her work focuses on Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Specifically, Kelly’s research examines Church rituals and ceremonies (especially pilgrimage), and the ways in which these performances incorporated statues, architecture, and public space.


Isabel Zinman

Isabel received her B.A in the History of Art and Classics from Cornell University, and a Research Master’s in Art History from the University of Utrecht. A generous two-year Excellence Scholarship and a travel prize supported her graduate studies in the Netherlands. Her Research Master’s thesis examines passages on artists in ‘chorography’ - sixteenth-century, book-length descriptions of regions of land - with an emphasis on the Low Countries. In March of 2014 she presented a chapter of her thesis at the symposium Kunst op schrift in Utrecht. She completed a summer undergraduate curatorial internship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and during the second year of her Research Master’s degree a curatorial internship at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam where she worked on a large-scale exhibition on the birth of genre painting. Her research interests include art theory of Early Modern northern and southern Europe, the Classical tradition, and the history of ideas.