Curator Bios

Catherine L. Futter, Ph.D.
Director of Curatorial Affairs

Catherine L. Futter was appointed Director of Curatorial Affairs in January, 2016. Prior to that, she was The Louis L. and Adelaide C. Ward Senior Curator of European Arts and The Helen Jane and R. Hugh “Pat” Uhlmann Senior Curator of Architecture, Design and Decorative Arts. She has completed several reinstallation projects for the museum as well as a major international loan traveling exhibition, Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851–1939, and several contemporary art and design exhibitions. Catherine has a BA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Duke University and a MA and PhD in the History of Art from Yale University. Her dissertation was on the 19th century New York interior decorating and furniture-manufacturing firm of Herter Brothers. Although Catherine is a generalist in the field of decorative arts, her specialization is in American and European decorative arts from 1850 to the present. She has focused on the interaction between different cultures and their influence on the decorative arts from the 15th century to the present.

Catherine’s investigation of the cross-cultural influences on the decorative arts has led to the publication of “Chinoiserie in Northern Italy – Japanned Decoration in a Rare Eighteenth-century Piedmontese Gabinetto in The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,” in Furniture History and the essay “The Federation of Mankind: Cross-Cultural Influences in the Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs” and co-editor with Jason T. Busch of the catalogue Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851–1939. Catherine has curated contemporary design and decorative arts exhibitions: Resting Places Living Things: Designs by Michael Cross; Forever; an installation by British ceramic artist Clare Twomey; and The Future of Yesterday: Photographs of Architectural Remains of World’s Fairs, sculptural photographs by Belgian artist Ives Maes. She has taught the history of European and American decorative arts 1750 to the present at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas, Lawrence, as an undergraduate and graduate course and lectured extensively on decorative arts.

Sarah Biggerstaff
Assistant to the Director of Curatorial Affairs

Nii Quarcoopome, Ph.D.
Curator, African Art
After receiving his doctorate in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, Nii Quarcoopome taught at the University of Michigan before joining the Newark Museum in 2000 as Curator of Africa, the Americas and Pacific. He was subsequently appointed Curator of African Art and head of the department of Africa, Oceania and Indigenous Americas in 2002 by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Quarcoopome is currently co-Chief Curator at the DIA and Curator of African Art at the Nelson-Atkins.

Quarcoopome has received numerous fellowships and awards for his work, including the Social Science Research Council, Smithsonian, Fulbright and J. Paul Getty Post-Doctoral Fellowships. As well as the National Endowment of the Arts and National Endowment of the Humanities Implementation grants for his recent groundbreaking exhibition Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500-Present, which received the American Association of Museums’ highest honors for overall excellence.

Rachel Kabukala
Department Assistant, African Art

Robert Cohon, Ph.D.
Curator, Ancient Art
Robert Cohon has been Curator of Art of the Ancient World at the Nelson-Atkins and taught at the University of Missouri-Kansas City as a joint-appointment since 1985. With a doctorate from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, he has published extensively in international journals on Roman decorative marble sculpture and forgeries of ancient art. His work at the Nelson-Atkins has included the development of the shows Discovery and Deceit: Archaeology and the Forger’s Craft (1996–7); Treasures of Deceit (1998–2000); Spring Fashions, 1 B.C. (1998); and Echoes of Eternity: The Egyptian Mummy and the Afterlife (2000). As part of the Archaeological Institute of America’s lecture program, he has presented his research in the United States and Canada. His current scholarship focuses on the role of measurement in the designing of sculpture.

Stephanie Fox Knappe, Ph.D.
Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art
Stephanie Fox Knappe, Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art, holds a doctoral degree in art history from University of Kansas where she has taught several courses. She was the exhibition coordinator for the first traveling retrospective exhibition of the work of Aaron Douglas and served as acting curator, European and American painting and sculpture, at the Spencer Museum of Art at KU before joining the staff at the Nelson-Atkins. Knappe contributed to the exhibition catalogues Tales from the Easel: American Narrative Paintings from Southeastern Museums, circa 1800-1950 (University of Georgia Press, 2004), Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist (Yale University Press, 2007) and Romancing the West: Alfred Jacob Miller in the Bank of America Collection (The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2010). She also contributed scholarship to The Collections of the Nelson-Atkins: American Paintings to 1945 (2007) for which she served as Senior Project Assistant.

She recently curated Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Masterpieces of Modern Mexico from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection and wrote an essay on Buffalo Bill and the Wild West for the catalogue accompanying Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Katelyn Crawford
Assistant Curator of American Art
Katelyn Crawford was appointed assistant curator of American art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in July 2014. She is a doctoral candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Virginia, where she also completed a master’s degree in 2010. Her research has received support from foundations and institutions including the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Her previous experience also includes work as a residential fellow at the New-York Historical Society, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Winterthur and the Yale Center for British Art prior to arriving at the Nelson-Atkins. She holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Art History from Columbia University.

Kirsten Milliard
Department Assistant, American Art

Gaylord Torrence
Fred and Virginia Merrill Senior Curator of American Indian Art
Gaylord Torrence is Senior Curator of American Indian Art at The Nelson-Atkins and Professor Emeritus in Fine Arts, Drake University. Widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on Native American art, he is author of The American Indian Parfleche: A Tradition of Abstract Painting, regarded as a landmark study and publication in the field of Native American art history, and curator and co-author of Art of the Red Earth People: The Mesquakie of Iowa. He served as the principal objects consultant and contributing author for Arts of Diplomacy: Lewis and Clark’s Indian Collection, an exhibition and publication organized by the Peabody Museum, Harvard University.

Torrence received a master of fine art’s degree in Painting from Michigan State University. Throughout his tenure at Drake, he headed the Studio Drawing area and, beginning in 1975, developed a program of North American Indian art history, one of the first in the country. Torrence joined the staff of the Nelson-Atkins in 2002 as founding curator of the Department of American Indian Art, and led the museum’s major installation of new American Indian galleries which opened in November, 2009.

Jennifer Byers
Department Assistant, American Indian Art

Colin Mackenzie, Ph.D.
Senior Curator, Chinese Art
Colin Mackenzie joined the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in 2009, having formerly held curatorial positions at the Yale University Art Gallery, the Asia Society Museum and Middlebury College. He received his bachelor’s degree and a doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and spent two years studying at Beijing University during the early 1980s.

Dr. Mackenzie’s interests range widely from ancient China to contemporary Chinese art. He has published on early Chinese art and archaeology and has contributed to a number of influential exhibitions, including The Golden Age of Chinese Archaeology. Mackenzie co-edited the catalogue Asian Games: the Art of Contest (Asia Society, 2004). Mackenzie’s current projects at the Nelson-Atkins include the reinstallation of the early Chinese galleries and the development of a long-range master plan for China.

Ling-en Lu
Associate Curator, Chinese Art
Ling-en Lu, Associate Curator of Early Chinese Art, joined the Museum in 1999. Born in Taiwan, she holds a doctoral degree in Art History from the University of Kansas as well as a Master’s of Library Science from Indiana University. Ling-en has actively presented papers at Art History conferences and has published several articles on Chinese paintings.

During her tenure at the Museum, she has been a part of coordinating The Golden Age of Chinese Archaeology, a special international exhibition organized by the museum and the National Gallery of Art in 1999, and has contributed to the two-volume book, New Perspectives on China’s Past: Chinese Archaeology in the Twentieth Century, which was published by Yale University Press and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in 2004.

Yayoi Shinoda
Department Assistant, East Asian Art

Leesa Fanning, Ph.D.
Curator, Contemporary Art
Leesa Fanning is Curator, Contemporary Art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She holds a doctorate in art history, from the University of Kansas. She recently curated Bill Viola’s The Raft, OpenEnded Group and Bill T. Jones’ After Ghostcatching, Impressions & Improvisations: The Prints of Romare Bearden (organized by the Romare Bearden Foundation), Cao Fei’s RMB City Opera, Through African Eyes (organized by Detroit Institute of Arts), Wolfgang Laib: Without Place–Without Time–Without Body, George Segal: Street Scenes (organized by Madison Museum of Contemporary Art), Tapping Currents: Contemporary African Art and the Diaspora and Siah Armajani: Dialogue with Democracy. Fanning is currently developing an exhibition on spirituality in contemporary global art for 2017.

Fanning has taught multiple classes on contemporary art at the University of Missouri and the Kansas City Art Institute as well as African art at the University of Kansas. Fanning taught Art In-Depth courses at the museum on ritual and myth, Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle and Shirin Neshat’s Turbulent.

Cambridge University Press published Fanning’s essay, “Willem De Kooning’s Women: The Body of the Grotesque,” in an anthology, Modern Art and the Grotesque. She has also written on Robert Motherwell and Adolph Gottlieb. Fanning was a contributor to the exhibition catalogue, Sparks! The William T. Kemper Collecting Initiative, and most recently wrote essays on T.C. Cannon and Brad Kahlhamer in Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky.

Jaime Rovenstine
Department Assistant, Contemporary Art

Rima Girnius, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture
Rima Girnius is the Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture. Although her interest in European art range from Medieval art to court culture in Renaissance Italy and 17th century Spanish painting, she specializes in Early Modern German and Dutch painting. She holds a doctorate degree in art history from Bryn Mawr College, completing her dissertation on the pictorial spaces of Rembrandt’s history paintings. Prior to joining  the Nelson Atkins in September 2015, she served as the curator at the Figge Art Museum and the Allen Whitehill Clowes Fellow at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She also participated in the Western Illinois Museum Studies Program as a guest lecturer and adjunct faculty member.

Nicole R. Myers, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture
Nicole R. Myers, Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, holds a doctorate degree in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Prior to joining the Nelson-Atkins in 2011, Myers held curatorial positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Saint Louis Art Museum. She also served as a curatorial consultant to the Denver Art Museum on the 2012 exhibition Becoming Van Gogh.

Myers is the project director and primary author of French Paintings: The Collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a scholarly catalogue in progress that will feature essays and new research on more than 100 paintings and pastels. She has curated Rodin: Sculptures from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, in addition to serving as curator-in-charge of Monet’s Water Lilies and venue co-curator of Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet. A specialist of 19th-century French painting, Myers has published on wide-ranging topics in the field, most recently an essay on Gustave Courbet’s nudes in the exhibition catalogue Courbet / Clésinger: oeuvres croisées (Musée Courbet, Ornans, 2011).

MacKenzie Mallon
Specialist, Provenance
MacKenzie Mallon is Specialist, Provenance at the Nelson-Atkins, where she oversees provenance research, procedures, documentation and review in conjunction with the curatorial departments.  A Kansas City native, Mallon received her BA in History and MA in Art History from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Mallon’s primary research interest is Nazi-era provenance and the art market during World War II. She was the curator of record for the installation Braving Shells for Art: the Monuments Men of the Nelson-Atkins and is the author of “A Refuge from War: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Evacuation of Art to the Midwest during World War II” (Getty Research Journal, February 2016). In addition to her work on provenance research and documentation, Mallon is currently studying the initial development of the Nelson-Atkins collection during the early 1930s.

Jan Schall, Ph.D.
Sanders Sosland Curator, Modern Art
Jan Schall, Sanders Sosland Curator, Modern Art, joined the Nelson-Atkins in 1996. She holds a doctorate in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in Art History from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2000, Schall organized the National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Projects exhibition, Tempus Fugit: Time Flies, and produced both its accompanying catalogue and award-winning website. She curated World War I and the Rise of Modernism; Roxy Paine: Scumaks and Dendroids (accompanying catalogue); Magnificent Gifts for the 75th; Kiki Smith: Constellation; Bonjour Picasso!; Inventing the Shuttlecocks; Bowery Nation: Brad Kahlhamer; zach houston: poemstore; the seven-part Re: Installation series; and nine prints and drawings exhibitions. Schall co-curated Sparks! The William T. Kemper Collecting Initiative and co-authored its accompanying catalogue (with Robert Storr).

Schall oversaw the renovation and reinstallation of the museum’s Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park and developed and implemented both the program and installation of the modern and contemporary collection in the expanded museum. She was a contributing author to (Im)Permanence: Cultures in/out of Time (Carnegie Mellon University), The Sublimated City (University of Missouri), Zhi Lin: Crossing History/Crossing Cultures (Frye Art Museum), Roxy Paine: Ferment and A Labyrinth for the Park (both Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art) and other publications. Formerly a professor of art history at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Schall’s research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Jaime Rovenstine
Department Assistant, Modern Art

Keith F. Davis
Senior Curator, Photography
Keith F. Davis is Senior Curator of Photography at the Nelson-Atkins and also serves as an advisor to the Hall Family Foundation. He received a master’s degree in 1979 in art history from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. After a research internship at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, 1978-79, he became Curator of the Fine Art Collections, Hallmark Cards, Inc. Upon the gift to the museum of the Hallmark Photographic Collection, in December 2005, Davis became the Nelson-Atkins’s founding curator of photography.

Since 1979, he has curated some 80 exhibitions, many of which have been toured to leading museums across the United States and, internationally, from Sydney, Australia, to Lausanne, Switzerland. In addition to teaching and lecturing widely on the history of photography, he is the author of nearly twenty catalogues and books, including An American Century of Photography, From Dry-Plate to Digital: The Hallmark Photographic Collection, 2nd edition (Abrams, 1999); The Origins of American Photography, From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, 1839-1885 (HFF/NAMA/Yale, 2007); and The Photographs of Homer Page: The Guggenheim Work, New York 1949-50 (HFF/NAMA/Yale, 2009). His various awards include a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1986-87) for his work on the Civil-War era photographer George N. Barnard. He was honored to be featured in James Stourton’s Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945 (Scala, 2007).

April M. Watson, Ph.D.
Curator, Photography
April M. Watson holds a doctorate in Art History from the University of Kansas and a masters degree in Art History from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. She has a BFA in graphic design from Alfred University. In fall 2013, Watson served as the photography curator for Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet, an exhibition of paintings and photographs co-organized with the Saint Louis Art Museum. She has curated and co-curated several exhibitions from the permanent collection, including Heartland: The Photographs of Terry Evans, a career retrospective of the artist; About Face: Contemporary Portraiture; Thinking Photography: Five Decades at the Kansas City Art Institute; Time in the West: Photographs by Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe and Mark Ruwedel; Human/Nature: Recent European Landscape Photography; and Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood. She also served as the venue curator for the loan exhibitions Beloved Daughters: Photographs by Fazal Sheikh and Edward Steichen: In High Fashion The Condé Nast Years.

Prior to joining the Nelson-Atkins in 2007, Watson served as a curatorial research assistant at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and was an NEA curatorial intern at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson. Watson has contributed writing and scholarship to numerous exhibitions and catalogues for the University of New Mexico Art Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. She also wrote for the monograph The Art of Frederick Sommer: Photography, Drawing, Collage (2005).

Jane Aspinwall
Associate Curator, Photography
Jane Aspinwall has worked with the Hallmark Photographic Collection since 1999 and was the first member of the Photography department at the Nelson-Atkins after the Hallmark collection was gifted in 2005. Previous to this appointment, she served as the curatorial assistant of Photography and worked in the American Art department of the Nelson-Atkins. Aspinwall received a master’s degree in 2001 in art history from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She also holds a master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in arts management received in 1992 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Aspinwall was contributor to the book and a co-organizer of the exhibition Developing Greatness: Origins of American Photography, 1839-1885, one of the inaugural exhibitions held in the museum’s Bloch Building in 2007. She was also co-author and exhibition co-curator of Timothy O’Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs. She has curated numerous exhibitions at the Nelson-Atkins, including: In the Public Eye: Photography and Fame; Restoration: Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison; Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood (co-curated); Exploring Egypt: 19th Century Expeditionary Photography; Heavens: Photographs of the Sky & Cosmos; and Timothy O’Sullivan: The King Survey Photographs (co-curated).

Natalie Boten
Department Coordinator, Photography

Kimberly Masteller
Jeanne McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art
Kimberly Masteller is the Jeanne McCray Beals Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art. A recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright foundation and the Social Science Research Council, Masteller holds a masters degree in art history from Ohio University and is completing her Ph.D in South Asian Art History at The Ohio State University. Before joining the Nelson-Atkins in 2008, Masteller spent seven years as the assistant curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art at the Harvard University Art Museums. While at Harvard, Masteller curated or co-curated nine exhibitions, including the traveling exhibition, From Mind, Heart, and Hand: Persian, Turkish, and Indian Drawings from the Stuart Cary Welch Collection, and served as the co-author of the related catalogue. Masteller served as a Visiting Assistant Professor for two years at Denison University, where she co-curated a student exhibition of their collections of Southeast Asian and Panamanian art. Masteller has also taught courses in Indian, Islamic and Southeast Asian Art for the Art Institute of Boston, Ohio University and The Ohio State University. Recent publications include a chapter “Cultures of Confiscation” in the 2010 anthology A History of Visual Culture: Western Civilisation from the 18th to the 21st Century.

At the Nelson-Atkins, Masteller curated the museum’s presentation of From the Land of the Taj Mahal: Paintings for the Mughal Emperor’s from the Chester Beatty Library in 2009. Masteller is currently working on a collections catalogue and plans for the future reinstallation of the South and Southeast Asia galleries.

Michele Valentine
Dept Assistant, South and Southeast Asian Art
Local Program Coordinator, Mellon Curatorial Fellowship