Melissa R. Kerin Associate Professor of Art History

Melissa R. Kerin

Wilson Hall 3015


Ph.D.    University of Pennsylvania, Department of the History of Art
Dissertation Topic: 15th-17th-Century Buddhist Wall Paintings of India's Western Himalaya

MTS    Harvard Divinity School, World Religions Program (Buddhist Studies)

B.A.    Trinity College, Hartford, CT (Women's Studies)


I teach courses in South Asian (including Tibet and the Himalayas) and East Asian Art and Architecture. My research focuses on the intricate and multifaceted relationships between art and identity formation (political and cultural), cultural memory, and religious praxis.

Selected Publications



Art and Devotion at a Buddhist Temple in the Indian Himalaya,
Indiana University Press


Artful Beneficence: Selections from the David Nalin Collection.
New York: Rubin Museum of Art Publications.

Articles & Reviews


“Tibetan Buddhist Architecture: Styles and Iconographic Programs.” In The Cambridge History of Religious Architecture of the World, edited by Dina Bangdel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

2015     “Recollecting Kashmir in Style and Theme: The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Painting of the 11-headed 1000-Armed Avalokiteshvara” by Melissa R. Kerin and Rob Linrothe in Orientations Vol 46, no. 1: 2-10

2014    “Tibet Field Report July 2014: Devotional Imagery at Buddhist Shrines” (with Victoria Andrews and Betsy Cribb) in Orientations 45, no. 8: 115-118

2013    "Materiality of Devotion: Tibetan Buddhist Shrines of the Western Himalaya" in Art of Merit: Studies in Buddhist Art and its Conservation edited by David Park and Kuenga Wangmo (London: Archetype Publications), 286-296.

2010    Visual Evidence of 'Bri-Gung Activity in Nako, Kinnaur." In Proceedings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, Bonn, 2006, edited   by Erberto Lobue and Christian Luzcanits. Leiden: Brill.

2008    "Reflections on Amy Heller's Early Himalayan Art" in

2007    "Little-Known Late-12th-Century Wall Paintings in Ladakh's Markha Valley." Orientations 38, no. 4: 54-59.


Book Chapters:

2015     "From Emulation to Interpretation: Trends in the Late Medieval Ngari Painting Tradition."  In: Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and Its Legacies. Rob Linrothe with Contributions by Melissa R. Kerin and Christian Luczanits, New York: Rubin Museum of Art.


“Nako’s Post-Fifteenth-Century Painting Traditions.” In Nako, edited by Lisa Gräber, Vienna: Böhlau Verlag Wien Köln

Honors and Awards


Howard Foundation Fellowship (Brown University) in the History of Art and Architecture: One-year fellowship to complete my manuscript on Tibetan shrines


The Robert Lehman Foundation, New York, NY  Grant awarded for a collaborative project between Tibetan artist, Gonkar Gyatso and Washington and Lee's Staniar Gallery. Gyatso's installation on Tibetan shrines will be premiered at Staniar Gallery, February 2018.


American Council of Learned Societies Fellow: One-year fellowship to work on project Materiality of Tibetan Buddhist Shrines: Devotional Objects and Ritual Agents in Tibet, Western Himalayan and the U.S.


VFIC Mednick Fellowship Nominee and Awardee Support for fieldwork and research in Ladakh, India. Project title: Documentation and Analysis of Tibetan Buddhist Shrines in India's Western Himalaya


Edward C. Dimock, Jr. Book Prize in the Indian Humanities: Awarded by the American Institute of Indian Studies for the best unpublished book manuscript on an Indian subject.


Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowship: One-year post-doctoral fellowship


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship: One-year fellowship for finishing the dissertation.