Alumni: Art History

Below are some profiles of students that went on from the Art History program at UMW.


Ashley Jones graduated in 2009 with a degree in Art History. She then went on to graduate from the University of Maryland-College Park with a Master’s in Library and Information Science with certification in School Library Media.

Jennifer Davis graduated in 2008 and went on to a successful career as an international development practitioner, working as the Director of the West Africa and Haiti division of Chemonics International. In 2011, Jennifer wrote to tell us about what she’d been up to:

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since I graduated from Mary Washington.  After receiving my diploma in May 2008, I spent two months saying goodbye to family and friends before moving to Mali, West Africa in July 2008 to begin my two-year Peace Corps service as an environmental specialist.

“Well, three years later, I’m still in Mali and have just signed on for two more (though not all as Peace Corps)! As a senior at UMW, I conducted an individual study on the Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé, who won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2007 Venice Biennale. While collecting sources in September 2007 for my individual study, I also had an interview with my Peace Corps recruiter who casually mentioned the next group leaving for Mali coincided with my graduation dates. A few months later, I learned I would leave for Mali for two years. Interesting ways that life has of guiding us places.

“After finishing my two years in a rural village in Mali with the Peace Corps, I found a third-year position with an USAID-funded education contract in Bamako. I am a Communications and Outreach Specialist, which means I take pictures, write success stories, and have my hands on deck when they’re needed! I am loving learning more about international education and also the complex relationships between USAID, contractors (like Education Development Center, EDC – based in Newton, MA), and the Ministry of Education here in Mali.

“I was recently accepted to SIT Graduate Institute to pursue a Master of Arts in International Education (low-residency). In January, I will begin a two-year online master’s degree, which I will complete while continuing to work with USAID/PHARE in Mali. I am also applying to receive a Fulbright fellowship to study a particular aspect of USAID/PHARE’s work in Mali: the single-teacher school, which could revolutionize the way Africa approaches education. (Think Little House on the Prairie in Africa.) I’ll keep you posted on that development!

“Whenever I reflect on where I am today and what led me here, I am always surprised. Wasn’t I supposed to pursue a career in art history? Am I doing a disservice to the major by not continuing in art history? What about all those people who asked me what I was going to do with a degree in art history? However, I wouldn’t trade my experience at UMW for anything. Majoring in art history at Mary Washington was one of the best decisions I’ve made, since it was a stepping stone to where I am today and I continue to rely on the courses I took and skills I acquired—especially writing—today. I strongly believe majoring in art history made me a more competitive candidate for graduate school since I bring a different background to the table and, if it weren’t for art history at Mary Washington, I wouldn’t have done an individual study on Malick Sidibé and I wouldn’t be in Mali now and…well, you get the idea… :)

“I also maintain a blog (address below) which I try to update as frequently as possible (at least weekly) with goings-on in Mali. I can attest to Dr. Och’s encouragement to exploit blogs; I would never have felt as comfortable as I did starting—and maintaining—one if she hadn’t required it of all her students!”

— Jennifer Davis (Class of 2008)

Dr. Allison Stagg (Art History, ‘02) received her Ph.D. from University College London and was awarded a post-doc fellowship at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute. She later was a senior fellow at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the department of Drawings of Prints. She’s working to turn her dissertation, The Art of Wit: American Political Caricatures, 1780-1830, into a book manuscript.

Glenna Barlow completed her BA in Art History and MS in Elementary Education at UMW. She later completed an MA in Art History and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. Glenna then spent the next year studying the folk art of India. By studying art that is made for temporary use in Hindu festivals and that is independent of the art market and Western consumption, Glenna endeavored to discover motifs that could be traced back to the historical roots of India and thus inform the way scholars consider Indian art, at large.

Following graduation in 2008, Dr. Kerry Gavaghan completed a master’s degree in History of Art at the University of Oxford. She later completed a D.Phil. at Oxford in 2014. Her doctoral thesis is titled The family picture: a study of identity construction in 17th-century Dutch portraits.

Graduating Student Snapshots

In 2013, we completed a brief survey of what students were going on to do. Here are some of the answers.

  • Elizabeth Paredes will be starting the graduate program in art history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she will focus on Italian Renaissance art.
  • Lara Belfield is moving to Kingston-Upon-Thames, a small town outside of London, to complete a master’s program in Heritage (Contemporary Practice) at Kingston University. The courses focus on emerging issues in heritage practices and art programs, including museum and gallery work and the performing arts.
  • Kol GiesselI was living at the Lama Foundation in Questa, NM in the Summer Stewardship program. She writes, “While there, I will learn about permaculture, earthworks building techniques, develop a daily spiritual practice, and live sustainably in a large community.”
  • Anne Grasselli has accepted a volunteer position working with Mary Morton, head of French paintings at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Anne will work as research assistant for an exhibition set to open in the fall of 2015 on Caillebotte, one of the painters she examined in her individual study in spring 2013.
  • Chelsea Neal was invited to return to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond this summer where she will work in the Education Department.
  • Hannah Ridenour will attend the University of Washington in Seattle to pursue a master’s degree in museology.

Have a Story to Share?

We’d love to hear from you and know about what you’ve done since graduating. Email you updates to the Office Manager, Katina Taylor at Thanks for keeping in touch!