B.A., Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge); M.A., University of Texas (Austin); Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)
Kimberly CassibryAssistant Professor of Art
Art historian focusing on cross-cultural connections in the ancient Mediterranean
One misconception about conducting research around the Mediterranean is that the weather will always be nice. In fact, snow does fall in Morocco, and, on deceptively beautiful springtime days in Provence, the fierce Mistral wind can freeze your fingers numb. Visiting these regions is, nonetheless, the best way to study the ancient Roman world. Rome itself constituted only a small part of an empire stretching from Britain to Tunisia and from Morocco to Iraq. Traditionally, however, this one city has dominated Roman Studies. In my research and teaching, I aim to bring provincial communities into sharper focus and to re-envision the empire from their perspective.
My courses on Roman, Greek, Celtic, Etruscan, and Near Eastern art and architecture emphasize cross-cultural exchange and the modern lives of antiquities. They also explore new technologies and artifacts at the Davis Museum. This fall, my seminar on Roman Monuments (ARTH 343) was awarded a Mellon blended learning grant to develop a website in support of the exhibit Reframing the Past: Piranesi’s Vedute di Roma, which I co-curated with Meredith Fluke, Kemper Curator of Academic Programs. Throughout the semester, students collaborated to create webpages about the ancient monuments we studied; for the museum’s cuseum app, they also recorded personal introductions to prints in the exhibit. This project was featured on the Wellesley College website. One of my students has also integrated new technologies into her senior project: Margaret Justus (’17) has created a public timeline and website about the history of antiquities at Wellesley.
My current research focuses on commemoration and the impact of empire on the art of the Roman provinces. The Getty Foundation’s three-year “Arts of Rome’s Provinces” seminar allowed me to travel with a group of international scholars to Britain (2011), Greece (2012), and the Getty Villa (2013). The seminar has produced a book proposing new approaches to the study of provincial art. My contribution, “Coins before Conquest in Celtic France: an Art Lost to Empire” publishes two overlooked coins (from Paris and ancient Brittany) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I had the opportunity to research these coins when I held the Met’s Pat O’Connell Memorial Fellowship during my sabbatical year (2013-2014). My research on commemoration in ancient France, Germany, and Britain has appeared in the Oxford Handbook of Roman Sculpture, and I have given related talks on "Gifts for the Gods: The Art of Devotion in Roman Gaul” at the Getty Villa and on “The First Public Monument in Paris: the Pillar of the Sailors, 14-37 CE” at the 2015 AIA conference. I also enjoyed taking several groups to see the exhibit "Roman in the Provinces: Art on the Periphery of Empire," on display at the Yale University Art Gallery (Fall 2014) and the McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College (Spring 2015). Included in the exhibit were a number of artworks featuring Julia Domna, my favorite Roman empress. For the catalogue, I wrote an essay on commemorative arches in North Africa that honored her. Last year, I participated in the “Art of War” conference at Brown University, where I drew on self-representations of Celtic warriors to problematize ethnic stereotypes in Greek and Roman art. This study will appear in the June 2017 Art Bulletin. I also lectured on Palmyra at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This coming year (2016-2017), I'm looking forward to giving a talk on images of Hadrian's Wall at the annual AIA conference in Toronto. That talk is based on my book project Destinations in Mind: the Art of Portraying Places on the Roman Empire's Souvenirs. While in Toronto, I will also participate in the Unlocking the Provinces conference.