Claudia Brittenham, Assistant Professor (PhD Yale University) Field of study: Precolumbian art

Claudia Brittenham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art and a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Michigan Society of Fellows. Her research focuses on the art of ancient Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, engaging issues of art and identity, intercultural interaction, the materiality of art, and the politics of style. Her current project examines problems of visibility and the status of images in Mesoamerica. She has also served as Assistant Curator for Eastern Hemisphere Collections at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.

Selected publications:

Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color. Austin: University of Texas Press, forthcoming, 2009. (with Stephen D. Houston, Cassandra Mesick, Alexandre Tokovinine, and Christina Warinner)

“Los pintores de Cacaxtla.” In La Pintura Mural Prehispánica en México: Cacaxtla, edited by Mária Teresa Uriarte. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, forthcoming.

“Maya Architecture.” In Mesoamerican Architecture, edited by María Teresa Uriarte. Milan: Jaca Books, forthcoming. (with Mary Miller)

“Imágenes en un paisaje sagrado: huacas de piedra de los Incas.” In La imagen sagrada y sacralizada: Memoria del XXVIII Coloquio Internacional de Historia del Arte. México: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, forthcoming.

Celina Contreras de Berenfeld (M.A.C. Queen’s University) is a visiting Scholar in the Department of History of Art at the University of Michigan. She has been involved in restoration campaigns in Mexico, Germany, the United States and Canada. While at the Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museogafía in Mexico she participated in restoration projects at the Pre-Colombian sites of Calica, Kohunlich, and Templo Mayor and also worked on Mexican Colonial works from the Museo Nacional de Querétaro, the Museo Nacional del Virreinato and the Museo Regional de Acolman. At the conservation laboratories of Westfalen-Lippe in Gelsenkirchen, Germany Ms. Contreras de Berenfeld was exposed to innovative scientific techniques that she put into practice during the restoration of German paintings from the Modern and Baroque periods and in the treatments of artifacts from the Ancient Egyptian Culture.

In 1994 she became head conservator of the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City where she incorporated the techniques and approaches to restoration she had leant and applied in works by August Rodin, Peter Paul Rubens, Miguel Cabrera, and D. A. Siqueiros, among others.

Her awareness of the contrasting approaches to restoration has motivated her to investigate the history of art restoration. Her field of study at the University of Michigan is the History and Theory of Restoration in the West during the twentieth century with research specialization on the theoretical perspective of the Italian theorist Cesare Brandi and his impact on restoration practices in Europe, the United States and Mexico during the second half of the twentieth century.

Her research interests include the links between political ideology and perspectives in restoration practices during the mid-twentieth century in Italy, the impact of restoration treatments on the aesthetic judgment of art works; historical treatments for compensation of losses in art works; and the identification and degradation of modern painting techniques.

Selected publications:

“The Impact of Brandi’s Restoration Theory in the United States with Focus in George Stout.” In Cesare Brandi oggi. Prime ricognizioni edited by Giuseppe Basile; 2008.

“The Condition and Cleaning of Acrylic Emulsion Paintings” MRS Fall Meeting, Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology VI, 4 (2001): 1-8.

“Siqueiros’ Pyroxylines Identification, Degradation And Similarities to His Other Painting Techniques.” In Historic Textile and Paper and Polymers in Museums edited by Jeanette M Cardamone and Mary Baker; 2000.


Cécile Fromont, Assistant Professor (PhD Harvard University) Field of study: African and Colonial Latin American art and architecture with research specialization in early modern Central Africa

Cécile Fromont is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art and a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Michigan Society of Fellows. Her research interests include the relationship between artistic form and religious thought, the visual syntax of belief systems, cross-cultural translation by visual means, the role of art and architecture in the political history of the kingdom of Kongo and of the Portuguese colony of Angola, the role of Christian art and rituals in the experience of enslavement in colonial Brazil, the history of artistic encounters between Europeans and Africans, art and colonialism, contemporary Caribbean art.

Selected publications:

« Icônes chrétiennes ou symboles Kongo? L’art et la religion en Afrique Centrale au temps de la Traite, XVIIème – XVIIIème siècles. » Les cahiers des anneaux de la Mémoire, (forthcoming).

"A Walk through the City: Stories and Histories of Luanda 1575-1975." Ellipsis: The Journal of the American Portuguese Studies Association, 4 (2006): 49-78.

"Figure of a Standing Cleric." and "Three Kongo Crucifixes." In African Art from the Menil Collection, edited by Kristina Van Dyke: 2008.


Angela Ho, Lecturer (PhD University of Michigan) Field of study: Early modern European art

Angela Ho is visiting lecturer in the department. Her research interests include European pictorial art and theory from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, notions of value and innovation in early modern European art, the art collection as a site of social negotiation and artistic competition, the status and agency of the artist, the operations of the art market, and the intersections between the discourses of visual perception and the pictorial arts.

Selected publications:

“An Invitation to Compare: Frans van Mieris’ Cloth Shop in the Context of Early Modern Art Collecting,” Renaissance Studies 2009 (URL:; print edition forthcoming).

Lilia Verchinina, Post Doctoral Fellow (PhD University of Alebrta) Field of study: Byzantine Iconoclasm of the eighth and ninth centuries and iconoclastic roots of the modern concepts of identity and subjectivity.

Lilia Verchinina’s interests include Byzantine Iconoclasm of the eighth and ninth centuries, human representations in Eastern Christian iconography and early daguerreotypes, facial composites, iconoclastic consciousness, historical and cultural contextualization of subjectivity and identity, dialogue between the western concept of identity and the non-modern concept of hypostasis. The aim of her current research is to put forward an alternative, visual, approach to person. This approach, admittedly, has already been proposed by the Byzantine defenders of icons.

Last publication:

"Byzantine Icons and Modernity." In Jessica Goethals, Valerie McGuire and Gaoheng Zhang, eds. Power and Image in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.