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Expert Biographies

1 / Converging Cultures

Ladan Akbarnia

Ladan Akbarnia, Ph.D., is the Hagop Kevorkian Associate Curator of Islamic Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, where she has coordinated several installations of the arts of the Islamic world. Most recently, Akbarnia completed a reinstallation of the Brooklyn Museum’s Islamic art galleries and an exhibition on Sufism in Islamic art. She earned a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Akbarnia specializes in art from Iran and Central Asia and has taught at Wheaton College and Smith College in Massachusetts. She also serves as a consultant to the Aga Khan Museum Collection in Geneva and the Iran Heritage Foundation in London.

Melissa Chiu

Melissa Chiu, Ph.D., is museum director and vice president for global art programs at the Asia Society in New York. An expert on Asian contemporary art, Chiu is responsible for establishing the museum’s contemporary art collection along with curating path-breaking exhibitions. She is a frequent media commentator on arts and culture and has lectured at universities including Yale, Columbia, and Harvard. Prior to joining the Asia Society Museum, Chiu founded the Asia-Australia Arts Centre in Sydney, Australia. Chiu has also authored many articles and books, most recently, Breakout: Chinese Art Outside China. Chiu holds a Ph.D. in Art History and an M.A. in Arts Administration.

Alan Chong

Alan Chong, Ph.D., is the curator of the collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In this capacity, he curates exhibitions, produces publications, organizes conferences, and works to preserve the museum’s collections. Exhibitions he has developed include “Gentile Bellini and the East” and “Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and Her Circle in Venice.” He earned his Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and has written numerous essays and catalogues, including a study of Vermeer’s View of Delft.

Deborah Cullen

Deborah Cullen is the director of curatorial programs for El Museo del Barrio, the premier museum of Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latin American art and culture in New York. Among the shows that she has curated for the museum are “Nexus New York: Latin/American Artists in the Modern Metropolis,” which examined artists working in the city from 1900–1942, “Arte no es Vida: Actions by Artists from the Americas, 1960–2000,” a survey of Latin American action and performance-based art, and the first four editions of the museum’s bienal of contemporary art, “The (S) Files/The Selected Files.” She has also authored and contributed to a number of exhibition catalogues.

Jay Levenson

Jay Levenson, J.D., is the director of the International Program at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Levenson served as guest curator of “Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th centuries,” an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in collaboration with the National Museum of African Art. Prior to joining MOMA, Levenson was deputy director for program administration at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where he coordinated shows including “Africa: The Art of a Continent” and “China: 5000 Years.” Prior to working at the Guggenheim, Levenson served as managing curator of “Rings: Five Passions in World Art,” an exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta that ran in conjunction with the 1996 Summer Olympics. At the National Gallery of Art, Levenson was managing curator of “Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration,” as well as “The Age of the Baroque in Portugal,” “Giambologna’s Cesarini Venus” and “Dürer in America: His Graphic Work.”

Chao-Hui Jenny Liu

Chao-Hui Jenny Liu, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Chinese art and faculty fellow of art history at New York University. Liu has published essays and entries associated with international exhibitions in New York and Florence on recently excavated art from China and is the author of Ritual Concepts and Political Factors in the Making of Tang Princess Tombs (642–706 CE). She has worked as a researcher at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution. Liu has also been a visiting scholar at the Institute of Archaeology in Beijing as well as the Academia Sinica in Taipei. In addition to a Ph.D. in Chinese Art and Archaeology from the University of London, Liu holds an M.Phil. in East Asian Archaeology from the University of Cambridge and a B.A. from UC Berkeley.

Miguel Luciano

Miguel Luciano is an artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions that include the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; La Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris; the Ljubljana Biennial, Slovenia; and the Zverev Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow. He is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts award for painting, and two Artist and Communities grants from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. Luciano received an M.F.A. from the University of Florida. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Barbara E. Mundy

Barbara E. Mundy, Ph.D., is an associate professor of art history at Fordham University. She specializes in colonial Latin American art and has taught courses in Pre-Columbian, Latin American, Aztec, and Native American art. Mundy has authored several works including The Mapping of New Spain, which received the Nebenzahl Prize in the History of Cartography, and “Mesoamerican Cartography” in The History of Cartography (Volume 2, Book 3), winner of the American Historical Association’s James Henry Breasted Prize. Mundy is the co-creator of Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520–1820, an educational project consisting of a Web site (www.smith.edu/vistas) and interactive DVD.

Julie Nelson Davis

Julie Nelson Davis, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches a range courses on East Asian art, including Early Modern Japanese Art and the City of Edo, Japanese Painting, The Arts of Japan, and Postwar Japanese Cinema. Her research concerns the arts of the Tokugawa period (1615–1868), particularly ukiyo-e, the “images of the floating world.” Davis is the author of Utamaro and the Spectacle of Beauty and has contributed essays to The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Designed for Pleasure: The World of Edo Japan in Prints and Paintings, 1680–1860, and other publications. She has held the posts of assistant professor of art and East Asian studies at Oberlin College and lecturer of Japanese art history at the University of Washington. Davis earned her B.A. in art history from Reed College, studied at Gakushûin University in Tokyo, and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Davis has also received numerous fellowships and grants, including the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellowship at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and several U.S. National Resource Center Faculty Research Grants from the University of Pennsylvania.

Romita Ray

Romita Ray, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of art history at Syracuse University, where she teaches courses in European art and architecture (1700–1950), post-colonial theory, and South Asian art and architecture, among other subjects. Some primary areas of interest for Ray are the art and architecture of the British Raj, the Picturesque in imperial India, and the visual history of tea consumption in Britain and the colonies. Prior to her position at Syracuse, Ray taught at Colby College and at the University of Georgia. She served as Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Georgia Museum of Art and helped curate an exhibition for the National Portrait Gallery in London entitled, “Between Worlds: Voyagers to Britain 1700–1850.” Ray received her B.A. from Smith College and her Ph.D. from Yale University.

Karen Sherry

Karen Sherry is assistant curator of American Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, where she has organized several special exhibitions, including “Japonisme in American Graphic Art, 1880–1920,” “Under the Open Sky: Landscape Sketches by Nineteenth-Century American Artists,” and “Picturing Place: Francis Guy’s Brooklyn, 1820.” Sherry previously worked as a research assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brandywine River Museum. She has taught art history at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the University of Delaware, and Pratt Institute as well. Sherry is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Art History at the University of Delaware and has received fellowships from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Winterthur Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.