Art History

Art History Faculty

Marlena Hobson
Associate Professor of Art History

Marlena HobsonMarlena Hobson has a PhD in art history from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Her dissertation focused on the work of the Novecento group of painters in 1920’s Italy and their relationship to Benito Mussolini and the Fascist Party. Marlena’s minor concentration was in Pre-Columbian art and architecture. Marlena began teaching at Mary Baldwin College in fall 1987. She teaches courses in modern art, women in the arts, history of photography, American art and architecture, pre-Columbian art and architecture, and twentieth century Latin American art. She has published exhibition reviews in the New Art Examiner and the Art Papers Magazine.  She takes frequent trips to Mexico, including the Yucatan, Chiapas, Campeche, and Oaxaca regions to study ancient Mayan and Zapotec archaeological sites. Marlena has taken groups of Mary Baldwin College art students to Oaxaca as part of an interdisciplinary May Term abroad course with the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and to El Salvador in a Spencer Center program.

Sara Nair James
Professor of Art History

sjames@mbc.eduFlor-12 (292)A_edited-2

Sara Nair James, Professor of Art History, holds a BA in art from Mary Baldwin College, an MA in humanities (Medieval Studies) from Old Dominion University, and a PhD in art history (Italian Renaissance) from the University of Virginia.  She has taught art history and interdisciplinary courses at Mary Baldwin since 1991. Her courses include Ancient, Medieval, Italian Renaissance, Northern Renaissance, Baroque, and Early English art and architecture. During May Term, she leads groups of Mary Baldwin students on a trip — usually to Italy — to share her knowledge of, and enthusiasm for art, history, and contemporary culture. Dr. James has received travel grants for research from the Mednick Foundation, ARTstor, the Kress Foundation and the Ross and Yum Arnold Fund.  She has been selected to participate in  two summer workshops with Kress Foundation grants.  In 2011, she participated in the Summer Institute for Technical Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.  In 2012, she participated in “Making and Meaning in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Europe” at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio and the Cleveland Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.  For her spring 2014 sabbatical she  received her third appointment to the American Academy in Rome as a Visiting Scholar.  She contributes regularly to the Sixteenth Century Journal, the Renaissance Quarterly ,and Historians of British Art as a book reviewer.  She has presented her scholarship at numerous regional, national, and international conferences, including the College Art Association, The Renaissance Society of America, and at the National Portrait Gallery and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.  Her publications include a chapter, “Vasari on Signorelli: The Origins of the Grand Manner of Painting,” in Reading Vasari (Philip Wilson, 2005) and a book, entitled Signorelli and Fra Angelico at Orvieto: Liturgy, Poetry and a Vision of the End-time, (Ashgate Publishing, 2003).  Her current research focuses on fourteenth century frescoes depicting the Life of the Virgin at Orvieto. She also has a book manuscript underway entitled, Art in England from the Saxons through the Tudors. Her website address is:

Adjunct Art History Faculty

Kerry Mills, ADP art history adjunct
Margaret Richardson, ADP art history adjunct

Studio Art Faculty

Shay Herring Clanton
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art

Shay ClantonShay Herring Clanton graduated from Mary Baldwin College where she received a BA with a double major in art history and studio art. Subsequently she finished two years of graduate course work in the School of Art History at Vanderbilt University; and, in 2000 she earned the MFA in painting and drawing from James Madison University. Shay currently teaches courses in painting, drawing, and foundation design at Mary Baldwin College. She also teaches studio art courses at the Beverley Street Studio School in Staunton, Virginia, and she periodically teaches classes for the gifted and talented program for area high school art students. From 1996-2000 she taught Figure Drawing and Basic Drawing in the art department at James Madison University.

Shay is a professional painter, working in oil and watercolor as well as pastel. She has an extensive exhibition record and has exhibited at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (Winston-Salem, N.C.), the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond), Bridgewater College, Mary Baldwin College, William H. King Regional Art Center, the Staunton Augusta Art Center, and the Beverley Street Studio School. Currently she is working on a series of watercolor journal paintings that reflect her interest in the natural world and in environmental advocacy. She is also working on a series of large abstract oil paintings based on local springs and rivers. Shay lives on Clayton Mill Creek near Deerfield, Virginia.

Paul Ryan
Professor of Art

Paul RyanA painter and art critic, Paul Ryan is Professor of Art in the Department of Art and Art History at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. He teaches all levels of drawing and painting, and courses in art criticism and contemporary art. He is also the Director of Hunt Gallery, the college’s art gallery. Paul has an MFA in painting from the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a BA in English from Principia College. Since 1983 Paul has shown his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions in a variety of venues, including Reynolds Gallery (Richmond, VA), 1708 Gallery (Richmond, VA), Hartell Gallery at Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), The McLean Project for the Arts (McLean, VA), The University Gallery at The University of South Carolina (Spartanburg, SC), Fine Arts Building Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA), The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA), Leeds Gallery at Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana), and the Armory Gallery at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA). Paul has been a contributing editor for Art Papers Magazine since 1990. Since 1989 he has contributed to Art Papers Magazine, Sculpture Magazine, Artlies Magazine, and the New Art Examiner. He is represented by Reynolds Gallery, and his paintings are in numerous public, corporate, and private collections.

Associate Professor of Art

Jim SconyersJim Sconyers, Jr. is an artist in a variety of media, including printmaking, photography, and digital media. In 2002, he received his MFA in Printmaking with Distinction from Indiana University’s Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts. Since that time, his work has been selected for both national and international exhibition, including, in 2007, Rentas Sempadan:  An International Print Exhibition at the Penang International Art Festival in Malaysia and, in 2008, NO DANGER 3-Dimensional Airplane Prints, an international exhibition at Richmond International Airport, Richmond, Virginia, and at Robert L. Ringel Gallery, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana. Jim’s new body of work made its debut at Hunt Gallery, Mary Baldwin College, in January 2009 and is scheduled to be shown in a solo exhibition at Main Art Gallery, Richmond, Virginia in May 2010. Most recently, Jim was honored to be invited by Professor Edward Bernstein of the Henry Radford School of Fine Arts at Indiana University to participate in an exhibition at IMPACT: International Multidisciplinary Printmaking Conference, which took place from September 16-19, 2009. IMPACT was hosted by the Centre for Fine Print Research, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. The show was comprised of 15 artists working with the title “Old Traditions in New Clothes”, loosely focusing on the interface between tradition and technology, both technically and conceptually. His personal website address is