A native of Bulgaria, Joana studied modern European languages and earned a Master’s degree in German literature from the University of Cologne. In the course of her graduate studies at Cologne, she became interested in text-image relations and the genre of ekphrasis, an interest that eventually lead her to pursue a Ph.D. in art history at the University of Chicago. At Chicago, she became fascinated with the materiality of objects, the possibilities and boundaries of artistic expression determined by material and technique, and the changing lives of art objects as determined by changing fashions of reuse, preservation, and display. Joana specializes in Renaissance and Roman art and her dissertation focuses on the reuse of ancient sculpture in 16th-century Rome. Joana's current project, with a tentative title Performative Objects, looks at how objects perform the stories they represent.