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Sarah K. Costello, Instructional Assistant Professor

BA, Georgetown University
MA, Bryn Mawr College
PhD, Binghamton University

Dr. Costello earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from the State University of New York, Binghamton and her Masters degree in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College. Her research focus is the visual culture of the early periods of Mesopotamia, especially as it relates to ritual and memory. She has also taught at Rice University and Binghamton University, and has excavated in Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Greece, and the United States. She is currently on the staff of the Prastio-Mesorotsos Archaeological Project in Cyprus. Her work has appeared in various journals and volumes, including most recently the Cambridge Archaeology Journal.

Dr. Costello teaches courses on the art and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean world, including Bronze Age and Classical Greece, Republican and Imperial Rome, and Mesopotamia from the Neolithic through the Persian period.

David L. Jacobs, Professor Art History and Photography/Digital Media

BA, University of Cincinnati 
MA, University of Texas, Austin 
PhD, University of Texas, Austin

Dr. Jacobs came to the University of Houston after serving in tenured positions at Wayne State University and the University of Texas, Arlington. From 1990 to 1996 he chaired the UH Art Department. He served as the editor of exposure, the quarterly journal of the Society for Photographic Education, from 1984-88. He is the recipient of several awards, including a grant for critical writing in the arts from the National Endowment for the Arts, a grant for research from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a Senior Fulbright Award for research in Chinese photography and teaching at National Taiwan University in Taipei (2003-04).

With Barbara Tannenbaum, Dr. Jacobs curated Ralph Eugene Meatyard: An American Visionary, an exhibition which traveled to six major museums in the early 1990s. The catalog (Rizzoli International, New York) for this exhibition included his essay "Seeing the Unseen, Saying the Unsayable: On Ralph Eugene Meatyard". More recently, he curated the first exhibition of graduate photography to be shown in the Peoples Republic of China at the Pingyao International Photography Festival in 2003, which included advanced student work from the University of Houston, the University of New Mexico, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has published dozens of essays, monographs, and reviews in AfterimageexposureNew Art Examiner,The Archive, the History of PhotographySpot, and other periodicals. The forthcoming Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Photography(Routledge, Kegan Paul, 2007) will include his essays on O.G. Rejlander, John Thomson, and 19th c. Photographic Self-portraits. He recently published his first novel, Green Gator Blues (2006) and is currently making photographs after a hiatus of many years. His photographic work was included in a juried international exhibition of current and former Fulbright artists that was held in Marrakech, Morocco in November, 2006.

Rex Koontz, Professor and Director, School of Art

BA, American College in Paris
MA, University of Texas, Austin
PhD, University of Texas, Austin

Dr. Koontz's work centers on the art of the Ancient Americas. He is currently investigating the portable sculpture tradition along the Gulf Coast of Mexico between A.D. 100-1000. These objects, known as yoke, hacha, or palma depending on their form, are important for the understanding of the place of artistry in Ancient Mexican politics and culture. More general interests include the construction of meaningful urban spaces in this area and how the programs of sculpture, architecture, painting, and performance seen in the center of these cities helped shape and focus the ancient urban experience. Recent books include Lightning Gods and Feathered Serpents: The Public Sculpture of El Tajin and Blood and Beauty: Organized Violence in the Art and Archaeology of Mesoamerica and Central America (the latter edited with Heather Orr, both 2009). He has done fieldwork in Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras under the aegis of the Tinker Foundation, the University Research Council of the University of Texas, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. He is currently working on a digital tool for visual analysis, VWire, that was awarded a Digital Humanities Startup Grant by the NEH in 2011-12.

H. Rodney Nevitt, Jr., Associate Professor

BA, Rice University
MA, Williams College
Ph.D., Harvard University

Dr. Nevitt’s field of research is seventeenth-century Dutch art. His publications include the book, Art and the Culture of Love in Seventeenth-Century Holland (in the series “Studies in Netherlandish Visual Culture,” W. Franits, ed.), Cambridge University Press 2003, and the articles, “Bridal Decorum and Dangerous Looks: Rembrandt’s Wedding Feast of Samson (1638),” in Rethinking Rembrandt, A. Chong and M. Zell, eds., Waanders 2002; “Vermeer on the Question of Love,” in The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer, W. Franits, ed., Cambridge 2001; “Rembrandt’s Hidden Lovers,” Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 1997 (Natuur en landschap in de Nederlandse kunst 1500-1800), vol. 48, 1998; and “The Herdsman, the Rowboat, the Beetle and the Ant in Two Marriage Portraits by Gerrit Adriaensz. de Heer,” in Shop Talk: Studies in Honor of Seymour Slive, C. P. Schneider, W. W. Robinson, A. I. Davies, eds., Harvard University Art Museums, 1995. Dr. Nevitt is currently working on a book exploring changes in Dutch genre painting in the context of developing notions of privacy, love and literary narrative in seventeenth-century Holland. In 2004 he received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend to conduct research on this project in The Netherlands.

Dr. Nevitt has delivered papers at meetings of the College Art Association, Historians of Netherlandish Art, and the South-Central Renaissance Conference. He was an invited speaker in the symposium “Rembrandt and Beyond” at the Portland Art Museum in 2007, in the lecture series “Dutch Interiors” at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in 2005, and in the conference “Rethinking Rembrandt” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 2000. In addition to the introductory survey in art history (Renaissance to Modern), Dr. Nevitt teaches courses in European Baroque Art, Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art, Northern Renaissance Art, and seminars on Methods of Art History, Rembrandt, and Problems in Dutch Genre Painting.

Dana Padgett, Affiliate

BS, Vanderbilt University
MFA, University of Houston

Dana Padgett received her M.F.A. in Painting from the University of Houston in 1990. She also has a B.S. degree in Computer Science (1981) from Vanderbilt University, School of Engineering, Nashville, Tennessee. She teaches courses on Contemporary Painting, Postmodernism, and New Perspectives in Art.

Jessica Santone, Visiting Assistant Professor

BA, University of Maryland College Park
MA, University of Chicago
PhD, McGill University

Jessica Santone specializes in Contemporary Art History, Performance Studies, and Critical Theory. Her doctoral research concerned the uses of documentation to circulate ephemeral performance art in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly within the international avant-garde group Fluxus. She is currently developing this into a book on archiving audiences of Fluxus performance. Other projects contribute to the history of countercultural art and visual culture circa 1970; critical discourse on twenty-first century performance art and social practice; archival or pedagogical forms in recent art; and theories of cognition, event, community, and archive. She has presented at numerous international conferences. In the coming year, she will co-chair a panel on the formalization of performance at the University Art Association of Canada Conference in Banff, Alberta; and present a paper on Fluxus as fan culture at the College Art Association Conference in Chicago. She has previously taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and Kalamazoo College.

Judith Steinhoff, Associate Professor

BA, Sarah Lawrence College
MFA, Princeton University
PhD, Princeton University

Professor Steinhoff specializes in Medieval and especially Gothic Art. Her research generally concentrates on Italian 14th century painting, although she also maintains an active interest in medieval illuminated manuscripts. Her previous work and ongoing interests include the politicization of even religious imagery to convey social and political ideals as well as changes in workshop collaboration and practices during the 14th century. These themes are explored in her book, Painting in Siena After the Black Death: Artistic Pluralism, Politics, and Patronage, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. She has published essays in several volumes and articles in journals including The Art Bulletin, Zeitschrift fur Kunstgeschichte, and Renaissance Studies. Prof. Steinhoff has presented papers at national and international art historical and interdisciplinary conferences, including the College Art Association annual conference, the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, and the International Medieval Congress, Leeds. She is also active in TEMA (the Texas Medieval Association). Prof. Steinhoff is co-editor of and contributor to a volume entitled, Art as Politics in Medieval and Renaissance Siena, forthcoming in 2012. Her current research project is a study of representations of grieving behavior by women in art and in social rituals in late medieval Italy. Her essay, “Weeping Women: Social Roles and Images in 14th century Tuscany” (forthcoming in Crying in the Middle Ages: The Tears of History Elina Gertsman, ed., Routledge Press, Fall 2011) is a part of that project.

Prof. Steinhoff is also interested in Medieval illuminated manuscripts throughout Europe and periodically works with students to produce exhibitions of medieval books and student works inspired by medieval manuscripts (these include: “Lustre: Spiritual Treasures & Sensory Pleasures. Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts in Houston Collections” 2005-06 and “Music in Medieval Manucripts” upcoming in fall 2012).

Prof. Steinhoff teaches Art & Society: Prehistoric – Gothic, and upper level courses on Medieval Art (including Arts, Artists, and Patrons In Medieval Europe; Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts; and Italian Gothic Art and Patronage).

Sandra Zalman, Assistant Professor

B.A University of California, Berkeley 
MA and Ph.D., University of Southern California

Dr. Zalman specializes in Modern and Contemporary Art, and her research develops out of a broad interest in the interplay between high and low forms of the visual, especially as that interaction has shaped the discourses of art in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The recent recipient of an Andy Warhol-Creative Capital Arts Writers Grant, Dr. Zalman is also interested in the examination of institutions that consciously worked to present modern art to public audiences, ranging from museums and world's fairs to department stores, movies, and popular magazines. Her current book project offers an analysis of how Surrealism's vernacular and avant-garde status influenced the direction and reception of American art. In February 2012, Dr. Zalman will be co-chairing a panel at CAA entitled "From Camp to Visual Culture: Accounting for Bad Art since the 1960s." At the University of Houston, she has taught courses on Museums and the Problem of Display, The Afterlife of Surrealism, the Spectacle in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture and Art and Society from Renaissance to Modern.

Luisa Orto, Affiliate

BA, Boston University
MA, New York University
PhD, New York University

Luisa Orto has a BA in Art History from Boston University. She earned her MA and PhD in Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University where she also completed a minor in Art Conservation. Dr. Orto teaches courses on the history of design.

Candace Clements, Affiliate

BA, Austin College, Texas
MA, University of Missouri, Columbia
PhD, Yale University

Dr. Clements has been an affiliate in the School of Art since 2002 after having taught Art History for a number of years at the University of Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut. She received her Master's from the University of Missouri-Columbia and her Ph.D. from Yale University, both with a specialization in eighteenth-century French art. Her current research interests include painters and their career strategies in early eighteenth-century Paris and printmaking in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe.