Smithsonian Journeys Experts
Ashley Elston is an art historian who specializes in late medieval and Renaissance art in Italy. She is an Associate Professor of Art History and Chair of the Art and Art History Department at Berea College, where she teaches a variety of courses on European art. She discovered her love of Italian art and culture as an undergraduate working on a degree in history and medieval studies at St. Olaf College when she participated in a study abroad course in Rome. She went on to complete an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history at the University of Kansas. A Fulbright grant allowed her to live in Italy while conducting her doctoral research in churches, archives, and museums, and her work has also been supported by competitive grants from the Renaissance Society of America and the Southeastern College Art Conference. Ashley’s research interests focus on the history of Italian religious art, particularly the cult of relics, as well as the theological meanings and optical effects of different artistic materials. She’s currently at work on a book that examines how paintings and sculptures were used together on Italian Renaissance altars and is co-editing a book titled Hybridity in Early Modern Art (forthcoming from Routledge Press). Her earlier research has been published in Gesta (the journal of the International Center of Medieval Art) and an edited volume from Cambridge University Press on fifteenth-century Italian sculpture.