Undergraduate Alumni

 
Featured Undergraduate Alumna: Lisa Melandri '93

Lisa Melandri

Lisa Melandri is the Executive Director of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. At CAM Melandri is charged with the administration and management of the non-collecting institution, now in its tenth year of operations. Since Joining CAM in 2012, Melandri has reshaped the exhibition program and launched such initiatives as: Street Views, a monumental exterior façade exhibition series, which premiered with Jennifer Steinkamp’s Orbit; and Audible Interruptions, a guest-curated sound art series which activates the interstitial spaces of the Museum. In addition to the Steinkamp projection, Melandri’s curatorial projects at CAM include Ron Gorchov: Serapis and Brenna Youngblood: Loss Prevention.

Prior to joining CAM, Ms. Melandri served as the Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, where, during her eleven-year tenure, the museum grew significantly in scope and size. While at SMMoA, she curated a number of notable exhibitions, including Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe, the artist’s first solo museum project, as well as Marco Brambilla: The Dark Lining (2011), Combustione: Alberto Burri and America (2010), William Pope.L—Art After White People: Time, Trees and Celluloid… (2007), and Enigma Variations: Philip Guston and Giorgio de Chirico (2006, co-curator Michael Taylor). Together with SMMoA executive director Elsa Longhauser, Ms. Melandri also curated Al Taylor: Wire Instruments and Pet Stains (2010) and Beatrice Wood: Career Woman (2011), one of the most critically acclaimed exhibitions of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980 initiative. She additionally oversaw programming of the Project Room, a dynamic exhibition series at the museum featuring national and international emerging artists such as Isa Melsheimer, Adam Berg, Simmons & Burke, Nira Pereg, Nicole Cherubini, Virgil Marti, Jeni Spota, Loren Holland, Mariella Bettineschi, and Arnold Mesches, among many others.
 
Before joining SMMoA, Ms. Melandri was Acting Artistic Director at the Galleries at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Master's degree in Art History from the Williams College Graduate Program. Since 2008, she has served as a board member and president of the Southern California Chapter of ArtTable; since 2010 she has served as a board member and treasurer of Fondazione Azzurra. Since moving to St. Louis in 2012, she has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Grand Center, Inc., and the Arts and Education Council.

Lisa writes:

“I am still in the business!  Harvard lighted that fire; it engaged me deeply in the analysis and interpretation of visual culture.  I am always questioning why something looks the way it does, and what was the context in which it was made.  Those formative seeds were planted at a time when the department was a glorious and messy—and sometimes contentious—soup of Marxist, feminist, and object-based art history with a dash of connoisseurship and a sprinkling of larger-than-life art stars  (T.J. Clark and his disciples, Seymour Slive, Norman Bryson, John Shearman, Yves Alain Bois!).  What an introduction to the academic art world.  The long and short of it is that not only did Harvard expand my thinking—and teach me how to think—but it made me fall so deeply in love with art and art history that I made it a core element of my existence and found a way to devote my career to it.”

 

Collected Undergraduate Alumni

nelly abravanelNelly Abravanel graduated from Harvard College in 2005 with a degree in History of Art and Architecture. After graduation, she returned to Athens, Greece, where she was born and raised, and worked briefly for a Greek TV station. In late 2006, she moved to London and got her Master's degree in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics. After writing a dissertation on the British newspapers' coverage of London Fashion Week and the "size zero model" debate, she decided that maybe, the old fashioned newspaper medium wasn't a bad place to begin her career as a journalist. So she moved back home, and from 2007 to 2012, worked as an arts editor for Kathimerini newspaper, a Greek national newspaper that is affiliated with, and distributor of, the International New York Times in Greece. She's written opinion pieces on cultural and social issues and done interviews with museum directors, including, Vicente Todoli, Adam Weinberg and James Cuno, who was also her freshman seminar professor, as well as artists such as Thomas Struth, Trisha Brown, Gilbert and George, and Jurgen Teller.  --   In December 2012, she decided to leave the newspaper and practice her skills in writing fiction.

She writes, "Giving some reflective thought on my study in art history, I feel that the two classes I took with Ewa Lajer Burcharth were what prompted me to always think about gender, whatever the issue was. I did not become a feminist, but the gender angle became engrained in the way I analyzed and understood things, whether that was during an exhibition review for the newspaper I worked for, or the manner I read books or the way I plunged into a conversation with colleagues and friends alike. And for me, coming from Athens, and having had a predominantly Greek education all my life, where gender does not figure prominently in either a daily or academic discourse, this was life-changing.

Then, my almost one-on-one (it was me and another student, Sarah!) tutorial with Yves-Alain Bois was another HAA milestone for me. I was initially horrified to be in such proximity to the then chair of the department. But it was such a privilege to learn from him the importance of understanding and questioning difficult theoretical concepts (oh good, old Foucault…), all the while driving around Massachusetts, visiting obscure museums and art galleries. Interestingly, in these sessions, the visual always came second. It was the theory that mattered. And theory exists everywhere and about everything...

Last but not least, and although it might sound cliche, my years in the History of Art and Architecture department taught me how to see. I learned how to look for connections and how to appreciate symbolism. It's helped me in my journalistic career, and it's definitely defining the way I approach my fiction writing."

 

jesse andrewsJesse Andrews graduated from Harvard College in 2004 with a degree in History of Art and Architecture. He then spent six years writing two (in retrospect flagrantly unpublishable) novels; working low-paying and frequently demeaning jobs; and playing and singing in several bands, the most successful of which was a comedy duo called, The Young Dads, that had a strong showing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and then broke up so that the other member could become a rabbi. Jesse's third attempt at a novel, a young-adult comedy titled, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Harry Abrams: New York, 2012), was his first to be published and has since been translated into five languages; he was also hired by Indian Paintbrush to write the eponymous feature-film adaptation, which is tentatively scheduled to shoot in the summer of 2014. He has also adapted the book Crazy U for New Line Studios as a Will Ferrell vehicle and written a third script that he is preparing to direct himself. Jesse continues to work as a novelist and screenwriter, although that may be a euphemistic treatment of the word "work."

Jesse says: "HAA is a good major for, frankly, anyone who wants to say or write anything at some point in their lives. It trains you to observe intensely at every level, articulate those observations cleanly, and then make sense of them. Also HAA is good because at the very beginning it's impossible to write or talk about art without sounding at least a little bit foolish, and if you're at Harvard, you are probably someone who will benefit from hearing yourself sound foolish from time to time."

 

Anna DickermanAnna L. Dickerman graduated from Harvard University in 2005 with a degree in History of Art and Architecture, magna cum laude. While at Harvard, she sought to combine her interest in the brain and mind with her love of the arts, and ultimately won a Thomas Temple Hoopes prize for her interdisciplinary senior thesis entitled:  “In a Fine Frenzy: La Folie de Hugues van der Goes, a Flemish Portrait of Madness and Genius” under the supervision of Professor Henri Zerner. Dr. Dickerman went on to receive her medical degree from New York University School of Medicine, and decided to pursue a career in psychiatry.  She completed her general psychiatric residency at the Payne Whitney Clinic of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. She is currently completing a fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine (Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia
University Medical Center. Beginning in July 2014, she will be an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and Assistant Attending Psychiatrist on the Psychiatric Consultation-Liaison Service at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. In addition to numerous other academic honors and distinctions, Dr. Dickerman has been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and has contributed to major textbooks from American Psychiatric Publishing, including D.S.M.-5 Clinical Cases. She recently presented her work on psychodynamic treatment of conversion disorder at the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine annual conference in November 2013. Dr. Dickerman’s main clinical and academic interests include psychiatric care of the medically ill, somatic symptom disorders, and psychodynamic psychotherapy.


Anna says: "My day-to-day work as a psychiatric consultant involves helping other (non-psychiatric) types of doctors better understand their patients in an attempt to relieve mental suffering. Trying to comprehend the complexities of another human being’s mind is not unlike analyzing a work of art. There is no question that my art history training at Harvard has been hugely important in helping me hone my skills in clinical observation. Looking carefully can often be key to making a correct diagnosis or achieving a better understanding of someone. Even something as subtle as a patient’s body language, the way in which the patient arranges him or herself physically in the room, can be hugely telling. I remember so fondly when I first saw Charcot's photographs of the "hysterics" at the Salpetriere in Professor Zerner's class on 19th century art...these images haunted and moved me profoundly. In fact, I am now developing an area of specialization within psychiatry that focuses on modern-day correlates of such patients (we no longer call it "hysteria," but rather "conversion disorder")."

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Alice Engel

Alice Engel graduated from Harvard College with a degree in History of Art and Architecture in 2004, and completed an MFA in Textile Design at Rhode Island School of Design in 2007. She currently works for Tiffany & Co., where she is an Interior Designer for stores in the Europe and Japan markets. Alice is an active participant in several organizations, such as Color Association of the United States, Domaine de Boisbuchet, St. Thomas Soup Kitchen, and the BDDW Club of Archers and Handmade Bowyers.

From Alice: “History of Art and Architecture gave me the ability to communicate effectively about our visual world. I relied on this skill during my years in graduate school at RISD, and since then in my professional life – whether as a textile designer, an interior designer or a stylist. I delight in balancing color, proportion, texture and disparate visual elements. I need to be able to articulate this pursuit in meetings and in writing – a pursuit I first encountered in HAA 10, and refined through my thesis work with Professor Roberts.”

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www.aliceengel.com
alicewemple.blogspot.com

 

Kate Gellert

Kate Gellert graduated from Harvard College with a degree in fine arts and completed an MBA at Columbia University. She currently serves as a director of Windcrest Partners, a New York-based private investment firm. Kate currently serves as President of the Harvard Alumni Association and on the Dean's Council at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Kate is involved in New York-based institutions: she serves as Secretary of the International Woman's Health Coalition, an organization committed to the health and human rights of women and girls around the world, and on the board of Lincoln Center Education, an arm of Lincoln Center devoted to helping young minds perform in a dynamic world. Kate is also a Trustee of St. Paul's School in Concord, NH from which she graduated.

From Kate: "I feel very strongly in how my time in Fine Arts (now HAA) shaped how I think -- and how those skills have followed me in my career... much of life is interdisciplinary the way Fine Arts was -- and to be able to notice deeply, make connections, and find creative interpretations is just as applicable at my desk working in finance as it was trying to navigate my senior thesis..."

Website
Harvard Gazette article: ‘A lifetime of limitless possibility’

 

Matthew LeeMatthew Lee graduated from Harvard College in 1992 with a degree in Fine Arts, magna cum laude, and soon after stuck his diploma in the gap between the fridge and the stove so he could begin boiling peanuts in earnest. As "Matt," he collaborates with his brother, Ted, on writing projects large and small and recently founded a writing workshop to teach professional chefs how to create cookbooks of quality.  Matt and Ted's "The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook," "Lee Bros Simple Fresh Southern" and "The Lee Bros Charleston Kitchen" have won a combined six James Beard Foundation and IACP awards, including the Julia Child Award.  Matt is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure magazine, since 2001, and writes frequently for publications like Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, GQ, Garden & Gun and The New York Times. He lives in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina with his wife and two sons, and is on the board of The Signet Society at Harvard. The ventures are at: www.mattleeandtedlee.com

"The kinds of wide-ranging, tight-focus exercises we went through in Fine Arts--deconstructing abstract images and finding patterns in the architectural residue of ancient cities, to name a few-- are PRECISELY the skills that media mavens need to make sense of the torrent of images and information streaming through the culture.  After Fine Arts, any writing assignment in the lifestyle category is a cakewalk: if you can pen a 25-page paper unpacking the darkest Ad Reinhardt painting, you can certainly scribble off 800 words about your last supper!"

 

Sarah LewisSarah Lewis graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Social Studies and HAA, magna cum laude, completed an M.Phil at Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship and a PhD in History of Art at Yale University (Fall 2014).

Since leaving Harvard, she has held curatorial positions at the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art, New York and served on faculty at Yale University, School of Art in the MFA program as a Critic. Her essays on race, visual art, and culture have been published in many journals as well as The New Yorker, the New York Times, Artforum, Art in America and in publications for the Smithsonian, The Museum of Modern Art, and Rizzoli. Her book, The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (2014) came out on Simon & Schuster and has sold translation rights in the UK, Brazil, Holland, Thailand, South Korea, and China to date. It brought her to some unusual places for an Art historian, like Late Night with Seth Meyers and Charlie Rose, where she focused on the creative triumphs born the unlikely, the improbable, even failure.

Sarah currently serves as a Du Bois Fellow at Harvard University where she’s completing her second book under contract with Harvard University Press. Sarah has received support for writing this book from the Ford Foundation, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition, and now the Du Bois Institute.

Sarah has served on President Barack Obama’s Arts Policy Committee, been selected for Oprah’s Power List, and currently a board member of Creative Time, The Andy Warhol for the Visual Arts, the CUNY Graduate Center, and The Brearley School from which she graduated.

“One of the many invaluable gifts of being an HAA concentrator was learning to value immersive concentration, the kind required to construct a world out of a single image. It is a posture, an approach that has informed how I view, truly everything I see—from presentations at board discussions to research in the archives for my scholarship. Having this perspective as a young scholar has been invaluable, and I have HAA, my fellow alumni and most importantly, the professors who taught me then to thank!”

 

Allidah MullerI graduated from Harvard College in 2005 with a degree in History of Art and Architecture with high honors. While at Harvard, I honed my appreciation of works on paper as a study room assistant at the Fogg’s Mongan Center for Prints, Drawings and Photographs. My time at the Mongan Center also confirmed a lifelong interest in the intersection of art making and education. I joined the Whitney Museum’s education department after college, working in school and family programming for several years.

Following a three-year stint of classroom teaching at a small Quaker elementary school in Philadelphia, I returned to New York to pursue a masters in art education at Teachers College, graduating in 2012. I am currently an art teacher at Community Roots Charter School in Brooklyn, where I spend my days teaching the finer points of papier-mache and mixed-media collage to students grades K-5. When not teaching, I pursue printmaking and various fiber and textile arts.

 I believe that HAA is one of - if not the - best concentrations at Harvard.  Not only does the department give its students an incredible liberal arts foundation that they can leverage into a myriad of different career paths, but it possesses a brilliant faculty who are truly devoted to educating their students and generously sharing their passion for scholarship, often in a one-on-one setting.  While I didn’t realize it at the time, I was inspired by my professors in HAA to teach.  Some of the most surprising and enlightening conversations in my experience as a teacher have emerged in the classroom, speaking with children about art -- whether other artists’ works or their own.

 

Amelia MullerAmelia Muller graduated from Harvard College in 2011 with a degree in History of Art and Architecture, magna cum laude with highest honors.  Amelia remained in Cambridge following graduation, serving as a Harvard College admissions officer from 2011 to 2013.  In addition to reading and evaluating applications to Harvard, Amelia oversaw the admitted students weekend and contributed to the overhaul of Harvard College Admissions’ digital presence across web, mobile, social, and video.  This introduction to the digital space led Amelia to a role in education partnerships at Google in New York City, before landing in her current role in account management at Blue State Digital, an agency that works with causes, brands, and institutions to create change online.

Amelia writes:  “I never imagined when I declared HAA as my concentration that I would one day ‘work in tech,’ but today I find myself immersed in the vocabulary of wireframes, analytics, and site copy.  Though my current profession may seem contrary to my undergraduate training, the visual acuity, attention to detail, and writing skills I honed through HAA serve me on a daily basis in my work.

Beyond providing me with a strong liberal arts foundation, HAA was truly a home for me at Harvard.  The comradery of our tight-knit group of concentrators and the mentorship of my professors and teaching fellows formed a community that has continued to enrich my life well after graduation.”

 

Anne PatroneAnne Patrone graduated from Harvard College in 2004 with a degree in the History of Art and Architecture. She had completed a number of internships in historical preservation while still in college, and though the original goal was to apply her degree to this pursuit, life took a different turn. After working abroad in a completely unrelated field, Anne turned towards city planning and completed her Master's Degree in City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina. After graduation, she headed back to London, where she worked for the city's transportation planning authority (Transport for London) for over five years. Now a confirmed transportation nerd, she has returned to her roots in the New York area to work out the next step in her career.

"A degree in HAA gave me a great foundation to move into city planning, once I decided I had more interest in studying buildings' urban surroundings, rather than simply the architecture itself. My classes always considered the overall context of a work of art or architecture, spurring my curiosity about the social and political forces that shaped it. It's fantastic to be able to look back on my research project with Professor Neil Levine studying future plans for the World Trade Center site in Manhattan - and to now be involved in the planning community that is taking part in the rebuilding!"

 

Nate RogersNate Rogers graduated from Harvard College in 2005 with a degree in History of Art and Architecture, cum laude with high honors. While it had been his goal from an early age to become an architect, a roundabout path to the profession led to him to the upper floors of Sackler and the seminar rooms of the Fogg. After college, it took him further afield to the Eastern Seaboard, where he worked for a year as the second mate on the large traditional schooner, Virginia, conducting youth sail training on the Atlantic among a professional crew of twelve. Once acclimated to the privations of living at sea, Nate felt ready to tackle graduate school and the ascetic life of design studio. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 with combined degrees in architecture (M. Arch I) and historic preservation (M. Sci.), and was the AIA Henry Adams Medal winner and Faculty Prize winner of his year. He has spent the past three years as a designer at Beyer Blinder Belle, an architecture, planning, and preservation practice in New York, working on a range of cultural and institutional projects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to a new research university in Africa. His current challenge, aside from licensure exams, is Harvard House Renewal; Nate is a designer on the Winthrop House renovation.

Nate writes: “I owe HAA a particular debt of gratitude for two things. The first is that I would never have developed an interest in historic preservation and its role in design without the extraordinary foundation in architectural history that I gained in my HAA studies. The second is that HAA taught me how to approach issues of aesthetics and design from an analytic perspective while helping me gain the skill and confidence to articulate and structure an argument in academic writing. While the first item may be specific to my career interest in combining preservation with new design, the value of the second is universal. A concentration in HAA offers the quintessential liberal arts degree in the best sense.

Finally, as a thesis-track student-athlete who also spent many waking hours at the Newell boathouse as a lightweight rower over my four years at Harvard, I can report that with a little discipline you can do both!”