I’m an art historian specializing in medieval Sicilian and southern Italian art and architecture. I’ve taught art and architectural history courses across the US – at Cornell University (NY), Drexel University (PA), Temple University (PA), the University of Puget Sound (WA), and most recently at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, where I also served as a co-director of the Small Cities Institute. I’m working on my first book project, In Pursuit of Magnificence: Art & Literature in Medieval Sicily, polishing an article on the craft of painted ceilings and depictions of justice-seeking women in 14th-century Sicily, and working on a garden plot managed by Grow Food Northampton.
This past year, I taught at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA as a Visiting Assistant Professor. A gender-inclusive historic women’s college, Hollins invited me to teach Baroque and Renaissance Art, Global Art of the Pre-Modern World, Research Methods, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Medieval Art and Architecture, and a Senior Seminar.
A scholar of medieval art, I prepare students to critically examine and contextualize art, architecture, and urban design throughout the Mediterranean, Byzantine, and Islamic worlds and their convergences from the 6th through 15th centuries. In my upper-level seminars I focus on relatively small regions or dynasties — in southern Italy, North Africa, the Levant — and introduce students to different methodological tools and disciplines, such as archaeology, ecology and environmental studies, economics, and gender studies. I also integrate off-campus experiential learning by working with city employees, utility companies, and local artists to help students better understand issues affecting pre-modern urban places by finding resonances in the cities around us.
I also volunteered with a number of community organizations that focus on protecting and expanding culturally significant foodways, increasing access to fresh foods, promoting the work of urban farmers through re-zoning advocacy and municipal support, and expanding grassroots-led advocacy. I’ve had the privilege to copyedit successful grants with the now co-director of the Philadelphia Orchard Project, to serve on the Board of Directors of Ithaca Community Gardens, Inc. as the secretary and lead grant writer during a time of profound transition, and to develop a grant proposal with my neighbors to build a shared vertical garden thanks to Sustainable Tompkins.
To learn more about my students and community, I design courses that engage with local urban policies and historic design (like “urban renewal”) and invite activists, artists, and city workers to discuss contemporary issues – even in medieval art and architecture classes. I also advocate alongside my colleagues for increased visibility, funding, and institutional support for contingent faculty and workers. I’ve found formal support for organizing through Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and earned a certificate in Labor Leadership Skills in 2021.
This past year, in addition to my work in the Art History Department, I served as a co-director of the fledging Small Cities Institute and to learn more about Roanoke and Southwestern Virginia. In that position, I participated in environmental action groups with Resilient Roanoke, food advocacy workshops and meetings organized by Garden Variety Harvests and Lick Run Farm, council meetings, gardening work parties, and other community-led events, which introduced me to incredible people and projects in Roanoke. I’m carrying that energy and momentum with me to my new home in Northampton, MA, where I am helping colleagues earn higher wages and create better workplaces.
Above: A view eastward of the painted ceiling of the Sala Magna, painted by maestri Simone da Corleone, Cecco di Naro, and Pellegrino Darena di Palermo between 1377-1380, commissioned by Grand Admiral Manfredi III Chiaramonte. Palazzo Chiaramonte-Steri, Palermo, Sicily. Photo: K. Streahle.
Left: Detail of painted wooden muqarnas ceiling, central nave of the Cappella Palatina, consecrated 1140. Palazzo dei Normanni, Palermo, Sicily. Photo: K. Streahle.