I work on visual, spatial and physical experience; processes of making and maker communities; and the composition of sociocultural practices through the physical crafting of goods among the peoples of the ancient Mediterranean. I studied Theater and Classics at Northwestern University and received my Masters and PhD in Greek and Roman art from The University of Texas at Austin. The widely interdisciplinary and global perspective of the doctoral program led me to embrace research that reaches across traditional cultural, temporal and geographical boundaries, and judiciously mixes methodology and theory to test new perspectives.
My first book, The Genesis of Roman Architecture (Yale, 2016), is a study of art and architecture in Rome up to the mid fifth century BCE. It focuses on two aspects of object-oriented connections: first, those tying buildings/builders in Rome with communities across the Mediterranean, and, second, the reciprocal relationship of spatial production and social activity in the generation of an urban landscape. My second book, Unbinding Rome: Art and Craft in a Fluid Landscape, 750-250 BCE (Yale, forthcoming), is an investigation of makers, materials and the role that craft communities play in the fabrication of sociocultural practices. It also takes as a central tenet the dismantling of imperialist culture-conglomerates, including the notion of a Roman world or Roman period as well as the multiplicity and fragmentariness of material lifeworlds. I have also published articles on the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Rome’s first and most enduring colossal temple, and on the creation and experience of the Roman Forum, among other subjects.
I served as co-director for two research projects, the Collections Analysis Collaborative (CAC) and 2017-2018 Rice Seminar, Forgery and the Ancient. The CAC was a digital research and educational initiative to investigate the provenance and social history of nearly 600 objects from the Ancient Mediterranean in the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, and to explore how open collaboration between museums and scholars can shed new light on challenges that face art historians, archaeologists and museum professionals in an era of cultural stewardship. It culminated in the publication of the volume Object Biographies. The Rice Seminar on Forgery was a year-long think tank that brought together eight scholars for collective and independent study on the notions and practices of forgery as it relates to the ancient world. The seminar resulted in a major international conference and the forthcoming volume Forgery Beyond Deceit: Value, Fabrication, and the Desire for Ancient Rome.
As part of my PhD research at The University of Texas at Austin, I began working in digital reconstruction. The fragmentary nature of early Roman art led me to begin a project with the UCLA Experiential Technology Center and with other scholars and students working in 3D modeling and interactive publication. An electronic publication through the American Council of Learned Societies E-book series, titled Visualizing the Genesis of Roman Architecture, will incorporate an advanced, fully interactive virtual model of early Rome into a scholarly framework with imbedded citations.
I am Member of the Institute for Advance Study, Princeton, a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and have received fellowships and residencies from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Getty Research Institute, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.