Elyse D. Gerstenecker

PhD Candidate


Elyse studies American design, decorative arts, and architecture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries under the guidance of Richard Guy Wilson. Her dissertation, “In Some Way Southern: The Newcomb College Pottery, William Lycett’s Studio, and Design in the New South, 1883-1910,” examines the emulation of design models from sources in the northeastern United States and beyond in art pottery produced at Newcomb College in New Orleans and hand-painted china at Lycett’s in Atlanta, probing relationships between these ceramics’ designs, their anticipated consumers, and burgeoning conceptions of regional identity. Her research has been supported by the American Ceramic Circle, The Decorative Arts Trust, the Louisiana Historical Association, and the Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library, as well as the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia.

Elyse graduated magna cum laude and with Honors in Art History from the University of Mary Washington in 2006. She received her MA in History of Decorative Arts in 2008 from the Bard Graduate Center in New York City, where she performed research and contributed catalogue entries for the exhibition English Embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: ‘Twixt Art and Nature. Her focus on the American South stems from her work as Curator of Decorative & Folk Art at the William King Museum in Abingdon, Virginia; she recently wrote an essay combining some of the discoveries she made there about art pedagogy at women’s educational institutions in Southwest Virginia with her research on Newcomb College for Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art (Spring 2020). Since arriving at UVA, Elyse has co-curated the exhibition “Reading Between the Lines of Jacob Lawrence’s Struggle Series” at the Small Special Collections Library (2016) and curated Figures of Memory at The Fralin Museum of Art (2020). Her second exhibition for The Fralin, Delicate Trades: British Porcelain, Global Perspective, is tentatively scheduled to open in 2021. Additionally, she wrote about American silversmiths and jewelers for a forthcoming volume of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s catalogue of its collections, as the museum’s Center for American Art Summer Silver Fellow in 2018, and she contributed an entry to the catalogue for Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum of Art and now on national tour.

In addition to developing her curatorial practice, Elyse has served as a teaching assistant for “History of World Architecture I and II,” “Arts & Cultures of the Slave South,” and “Twentieth-Century German Visual Culture” and has received the department’s Distinguished Graduate Teaching Assistant Award.