Spring 2021 Course Guide

Welcome to the Spring 2021 Course Guide for the Department of Art and Art History!

Most of the courses described here have been specifically adapted for virtual or hybrid learning in 2020-21. Studio Art courses in particular have developed new approaches, with exciting results. In Art History and Art & Museum Studies, a wide array of courses includes several new ones that promise lively inquiry around questions that have become more urgent than ever in 2020. 

We invite you to browse all the offerings and let us know if you have any questions. For individual courses, please reach out to the professor. For other questions about your major, minor, or our curriculum more generally, please contact your major advisor or any of us listed below. Department faculty and staff are happy to answer your questions and discuss your options by email or appointment.

Director of Undergraduate Studies in Art History – Prof. Ian Bourland
Director of Undergraduate Studies in Studio Art – Prof. John Morrell
Director of MA Program in Art and Museum Studies – Prof. Lisa Strong
Department Chair – Prof. Al Acres
Department Coordinator – Emily Aufuldish


Edson Martinez-Sanchez (C’20), who won the department’s highest recognition this year – the Clifford T. Chieffo Award for Art – says making art in the time of COVID-19 is what keeps him centered.During this pandemic, art has been an essential pillar in my daily routine, because it has served as an important form of expression and it has allowed important moments of introspection,” says Martinez, who was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and now lives with family in Salem, Oregon. “Despite all the circumstances, when I sit down to work, it is possible for me to balance my thoughts.

NEWS: Art Provides Much-Needed Respite, Connection for Students During Pandemic
Professor Scott Hutchinson teaching color theory with pastels with a multi-camera Zoom classroom during Instructional Continuity.

Studio Art Courses

Design

ARTS 100-01 – Design

ARTS 100-01 — Design I is an introductory art studio course. Using drawing, painting, sculpture and photo materials, students learn the principles and elements of design necessary to communicate and express themselves visually. Special topics include collage and papercutting. ARTS 100 is required for all art majors and is recommended for art minors and as an elective for students interested in exploring the discipline of studio art.

This course is taught by Professor Michael Dowley.

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ARTS 100-02 – Design

ARTS 100-02 – Design I focuses on the study of fundamental skills used for making visual art. This includes both conceptual and technical development. The broad goals of the course are to train our eye to understand and refine compositions as a way to communicate ideas visually and create new designs that get past cliche ideas. Additionally we will gain foundational skills and concepts needed for making and analyzing art. This section of Design will focus on creating three-dimensional forms using easy to manipulate materials such as paper, cardboard, foam-board and wire. With these materials all of the projects will be achievable in practically any learning environment.

This course is taught by Professor Evan Reed.

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Drawing

ARTS 110-01 – Drawing I: Visual Language

ARTS 110-01 – Drawing I: Visual Language Gustav Klimt once said, “Art is a line around your thoughts.” In this course, students will use drawing as a means of creative reflection and as a means to process the world around them. Students will draw inspiration for their work from their personal-history and surrounding environments. They will learn to see the world from a new perspective, and with fresh eyes. This course will begin with foundational material, building step by step in complexity. Students will use checklists to help them to develop and fix line drawing, shading, and composition. Understanding that students have different levels of drawing experience, I work with each student individually to help them improve. Using interactive group critiques and one-on-one feedback from me, all students will gain valuable feedback on their drawings. A variety of drawing processes and techniques will be covered. Subjects covered will include still life, landscape, portraiture, the figure, and architectural perspective drawing. As a remote course, resources will include prerecorded demonstrations, live-recorded demonstrations, slideshow lectures, and short films about artists.

This course is taught by Professor Mark Anderson.

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ARTS 110-02 – Drawing I: Visual Language

ARTS 110-02 – Drawing I: Visual Language is a course designed to introduce basic fundamentals of drawing, with an emphasis on perceptive and technical skills. Basic art elements, and principles of art are explored as they relate to graphic expression. Additionally, this course is designed to develop basic drawing skills using a variety of media and techniques, and to become knowledgeable of various topics, and vocabulary in drawing such as line, tone, perspective, proportion, and composition. Another purpose of this course is to develop basic critical skills in visual art, and to expand elements of visual and critical thinking, and visual vocabulary.

This course is taught by Professor Tom Xenakis.

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ARTS 110-03 – Drawing I: Visual Language

ARTS 110-03 – Drawing I: Visual Language is a course designed to introduce basic fundamentals of drawing, with an emphasis on perceptive and technical skills. Basic art elements, and principles of art are explored as they relate to graphic expression. Additionally, this course is designed to develop basic drawing skills using a variety of media and techniques, and to become knowledgeable of various topics, and vocabulary in drawing such as line, tone, perspective, proportion, and composition. Another purpose of this course is to develop basic critical skills in visual art, and to expand elements of visual and critical thinking, and visual vocabulary.

This course is taught by Professor Tom Xenakis.

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ARTS 110-04 – Drawing I: Visual Language

ARTS 110-04 – Drawing I: Visual Language In this course, students explore drawing as a graphic means to process the world around them. The class starts with the fundamentals of composition, and how to use light and shadow to describe form. We then look at line as a means of discovery and expression, along with other techniques of rendering form, space and texture. Projects range from still life and interiors to studies of nature, animal skulls and the portrait/figure. Students are approached on an individual basis as well as through group discussions, slideshows, demonstrations and critiques. “Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see.” – Kimon Nicolaides.

This course is taught by Professor Ann Schlesinger.

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ARTS 215 – Drawing The Portrait

ARTS 215 – Drawing The Portrait is an exploration of the portrait through a multitude of mediums and stylistic approaches, consisting of both traditional materials and techniques as well as contemporary and modern approaches to portraiture. The course will include fundamental skill-building exercises, but also encourage students to take risks, experiment and find their own voice. This will be achieved through observational study of the live model as well as from photo, the collage and imagination. Instruction will consist of both live and pre recorded demonstrations, slide presentations, individual and group critiques.

This course is taught by Professor Scott Hutchison.

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Printmaking

ARTS 121 — Intro to Printmaking

ARTS 121 — Intro to Printmaking This course utilizes traditional hand printing of relief images from Linoleum plates. Test plates are done in color and B&W. Folds and simple bookmaking are presented as options. After learning safe cutting, registration and printing methods, students are encouraged to pursue their own personal imagery. Critiques and view and response of videos and online print related sites is required.

This course is taught by Professor Scip Barnhart.

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ARTS 170 — Art of the Book

ARTS 170 — Art of the Book This course explores the practice and creation of unique artist books. Multiple bindings, sewing, folds, cutting methods, and techniques are taught to prepare students for personal expression through hand made books.

This course is taught by Professor Scip Barnhart.

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Photography

Darkroom

ARTS 132, Alternative Processes in Photo

ARTS 132 — Alternative Processes in Photo Back in the day meets modern day, contemporary alternative photographic processes. This class combines modern day technology with historic non-traditional printing and photographic processes. DSLR cameras and photo editing software are applied to centuries old photographic processes. Students will gain knowledge of both digital and hands-on non-traditional processes. Additionally, the class will include discussions as to history, invention, and contemporary artist regarding each process.

This course is taught by Professor Kelly Carr.

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Digital

ARTS 131-01 – Photo 1: Digital

ARTS131-01 — Photo 1: Digital is a basic digital photography studio art course designed to develop the hands-on skills necessary to produce and identify the elements of a good photograph and to acquire a thorough working knowledge of digital equipment. Students will gain an understanding of the aesthetic and technical areas of photography as a fine art. Class lectures, discussions and digital assignments will deal with photographic composition, criticism and history. Fundamental knowledge of computer programs such as Photoshop will be introduced in the semester to develop photographic imagery.

This course is taught by Professor Kelly Carr.

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ARTS 131-02 – Photo 1: Digital

ARTS-131-02 — Photo 1: Digital is an introductory digital photography studio art course designed to develop the hands-on skills necessary to produce and identify the elements of a good photograph and to acquire a thorough working knowledge of digital equipment. Students will gain an understanding of the aesthetic and technical areas of photography as a fine art. Class lectures, discussions and digital lab assignments will deal with photographic composition, criticism and history, camera and paper types, and printer systems. Fundamental knowledge of computer programs such as Photoshop will be covered for students to edit and print their work. Students enrolled in studio courses must devote a minimum of FOUR TO SIX hours per week outside of class to develop and complete assignments. Through the analysis of the history of this medium this class involves the study of photography as a metaphor for the human condition with students engaging in self-reflection and questioning through analysis, inquiry, dialogue and creation. This course fulfills the Georgetown HALC (Humanities, Art, Literature and Culture requirement) requirement.

This course is taught by Professor Roberto Bocci.

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ARTS 131-03 & 04 – Photo 1: Digital

ARTS-131-03 & 04 — Photo 1: Digital covers camera use, light and exposure, composition, and conveying meaning through photographs. Students will apply these fundamental craft skills to develop and express a personal vision in photography, learning how to have a voice and tell their story with photographs. Through presentations and guest speakers (professional artists, curators, historians) the class also looks at diverse photographs from historical and contemporary photography. Online teaching options do not impact course content or activities since the digital photographs are by nature screen-based, and even guest speakers not living in DC can Zoom in for presentations to students.

These courses are taught by Professor Bruce McKaig.

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ARTS 230 – Advanced Photography

ARTS 230 – Advanced Photography is an advanced class for both film and digital photography students to continue shooting and printing their creative work in order to compile a portfolio that can be used to apply for internships, jobs or graduate school. Projects include the portrayal of a city (Washington DC and/or other), event documentation (the documentation of street events, political protests, rock concerts etc.), a book-making project that can be printed and bound in-house or sent out to companies like Blurb, and mini projects to learn how to use advanced Photoshop compositing and editing techniques. Projects can be developed on film or digital format and printed as gelatin silver and/or digital prints. As students produce work the prints are inserted into a hard copy portfolio or added to a website. The primary software packages you will use is Adobe Photoshop and Bridge and/or Adobe Lightroom.

This course is taught by Professor Roberto Bocci.

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Sculpture

ARTS 140 – Sculpture I

ARTS 140 – Sculpture I offers students the opportunity to exercise their creative drive and objectify their ideas as three-dimensional form. Students work in traditional and contemporary methods and materials. During the semester there are three thematically driven projects that simultaneously introduce new materials, processes, and conceptual consideration. Assignments begin with demonstrations and example images of work by artists of different eras and previous students from Sculpture One. This spring semester Sculpture I will include projects that range from modeling a form in clay, creating sculptures with recycled cardboard and designing a miniature monument that will incorporate a range of materials. All sculptural processes will be low tech and accessible to all.

This course is taught by Professor Evan Reed.

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ARTS 144 — The Art of Furniture

ARTS 144 — The Art of Furniture is an introductory course that explores furniture design and production. The projects introduce students to research and design development, project planning, and construction skills. We take ideas from drawings and small models to finished pieces. We will also have a selective study of historical developments in furniture design to serve as a springboard for our own work. The course emphasis is on creating unique one of a kind pieces as opposed to reproduction furniture. We will use a range of materials and building processes to complete designs. No previous experience in design or construction is required but a sincere interest and time commitment to the course is expected.

This course is taught by Professor Evan Reed.

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Painting

ARTS 150-01 – Painting I: Oil

ARTS 150-01 — Painting I: Oil Edward Hopper once said, “If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” In this course, students will use paint as a means of creative expression and as a means to explore their individual interests. Students will gain inspiration for their work from their personal-history and surrounding environments. They will learn to see the world from a new perspective, and with fresh eyes. This course will begin with foundational material, building step by step in complexity. Students will explore color theory and composition. Understanding that students have different levels of painting experience, I work with each student individually to help them improve. Using interactive group critiques and one-on-one feedback from me, all students will gain valuable feedback on their drawings. A variety of painting processes and techniques will be covered. In addition to still life, students will be able to do landscape and figure paintings. As a remote course, resources will include prerecorded demonstrations, live-recorded demonstrations, slideshow lectures, and short films about artists.

This course is taught by Professor Mark Anderson.

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ARTS 150-02 – Painting I: Oil

ARTS 150 02 – Painting I: Oil, is a studio art class developing the techniques and concepts of painting in traditional, oil medium used from the Renaissance to today. Students will learn the basic techniques of transparent glazing and opaque oil painting. They will investigate the impact of color and value on the illusion of space and form. While focusing on the traditional subjects of landscape, still life, and figure, they will create a portfolio of three paintings developing their drawing and painting abilities with the medium. Studio demonstrations, lectures, slide presentations and individual and class critiques will be conducted online using Zoom and Canvas to present all aspects of instruction. Students create oil paintings during regular class sessions with feedback from the instructor. They continue to develop their paintings outside of class. The students receive individual guidance and evaluations from the instructor during each class as well as valuable insights from the student discussions during class critiques.

This course is taught by Professor John Morrell.

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ARTS 150-03 – Painting I: Oil

Zoom Black and White Demonstration

ARTS 150 03 — Painting I: Oil is an introductory painting course that teaches the basic techniques of painting. Students learn to paint from observation, in a manner that results in a realistic depiction of the subject. However, the goal of this course is not to make copies, but to strike a balance between an art historical approach to painting with a contemporary one – fostering an environment that encourages students to think creatively and to experiment with the paint and the subject. This is achieved through live and prerecorded demonstrations, artist slide lectures, group, and individual critiques.

This course is taught by Professor Scott Hutchison.

ARTS 151 – Painting I: Acrylic

ARTS 151 – Painting I: Acrylic As this class is taught fully online for the fall semester, it is structured to meet the demands of a remote teaching/learning class. Using Zoom and Google Slides presentations, which have been already embedded in Canvas, we will meet synchronously during our scheduled class times. Teaching will consist of in-class instruction, demonstrations, presentations, pre-recorded demonstration videos, and individual and group critiques. Most portions of classes will be recorded and will be available if a student is unable to attend due to challenging circumstances. During synchronous teaching, students will work on their art projects after a lecture or demonstration. Students will be asked to upload their in-progress images to the Google Slides in Canvas multiple times during a class. While reviewing images with students, I will offer very specific feedback so they can continue to develop their projects. During each class meeting, students will have opportunities to get help individually, and if needed, through Breakout Room sessions. In addition, students can use office hours when they need extra help.

This course is taught by Professor BG Muhn.

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ARTS 154 01 – Intro to Watercolor

ARTS 154 01 — Intro to Watercolor, is a studio art class developing the techniques and concepts of painting in traditional, water-based medium. Students will learn the basic techniques of transparent and opaque watercolor. They will investigate the impact of color and value on the illusion of space and form. While focusing on the traditional subjects of landscape, still life, and figure, they will create a portfolio of five images developing their drawing and painting abilities with the medium. Studio projects (watercolors), demonstrations, lectures, and; individual and class critiques will be conducted online using Zoom and Canvas to present all aspects of instruction — technique demonstrations, slide presentations and class discussion. Students create watercolors during regular class sessions for one-on-one feedback from the instructor and they continue to develop their paintings outside of class. The students receive individual guidance and evaluations from the instructor during each class as well as valuable insights from the student discussions during class critiques.

This course is taught by Professor John Morrell.

ARTS 250 — Painting Studio II

ARTS 250 — Painting Studio II This is an intermediate level painting course. The overall theme of the assignments for the semester is moving away from straight observational painting and exploring imagination and visual dynamism within a juxtaposition of the real and the unreal, blurring the boundaries between dream and reality and consciousness and the subconscious. This will be the overarching idea for all three projects while each project deals with a specific subject matter. Relevant references and resources will be introduced for students to contextualize their work using art history. Assignments begun in class will require time outside of class to develop and complete. Medium: either oil or acrylic.

This course is taught by Professor BG Muhn.

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Graphic Design

ARTS 162 01 – Intro to Graphic Design

Arts 162-01 — Introduction to Graphic Design: Students will learn the formal, aesthetic, and communicative aspects of creating effective graphic images. Projects include logos, typography, and digital arts that promote mastery of techniques, methods, and materials. In order to foster creativity, we start with breathing meditation at the start of class, followed by discussions about design and learn the Adobe software and the foundation of design principles. The goal of this class is to strengthen students’ visual literacy and communication skills as part of their liberal arts education.

This course is taught by Professor Negar Nahidian.

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ARTS 162 02 – Intro to Graphic Design

ARTS 162 02 — Intro to Graphic Design is a studio art class focused on the creation of graphic design assets for print and screen-based media. During this course, you will learn basic Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe InDesign software through real-world projects and current topics in graphic design. The course seeks to familiarize design students with the communicative power of visual form and to help students develop a personal process of creating original graphic forms capable of effectively communicating a message or information. Projects integrate the following topics: principles of graphic design, design research, logos and branding, album cover design, interactive and print publication design, typography, graphic design history, and professional portfolios.

This course is taught by Professor Toni-Lee Sangastiano

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ARTS 262 — Advanced Graphic Design

ARTS 262 — Advanced Graphic Design Students will learn the mindful, formal, aesthetic and communicative aspects of creating effective graphic images. Typography, the history of type, type classifications and more will be taught and discussed. Students will design a book in Indesign and send to print, along with a type classification project cards, and other projects.

This course is taught by Professor Negar Nahidian.

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Animation

ARTS 166 — Animation I

ARTS 166 — Animation I is designed to introduce students to basic methods and practices in animation, while exposing them to artists working independently in the field. The course will provide an overview of techniques ranging from hand-drawn frame-by-frame animation, to object animation and pixilation. Each class will consist of a short demonstration, viewing of related works, hands-on experimentation and critique. Weekly assignments will further students’ exploration of animation approaches and techniques. The course will conclude with the creation of final projects in which students will develop and create an animated short in a medium of their choosing.

This course is taught by Professor Elyse Kelly.

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ARTH 268 – Principles of Animation

ARTH 268 – Principles of Animation has been developed to sit alongside ARTS 166 and 266 for students interested in a deeper dive into the practical techniques used in traditional animation. During this class, you will be reacquainted with the ‘principles of animation’, and learn how to create strong believable animations while developing a sense of observation, timing and motion. The course will primarily focus on 2D mediums, however the techniques covered are an important foundation in all forms of animation. Classes will consist of short demonstrations, viewing of related works, hands-on experimentation and critique. The course will conclude with the creation of a final project in which students will illustrate the principles discussed in the course.

This course is taught by Professor Elyse Kelly.

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Upper-Level ARTS Courses

ARTS courses at the 330-400 level are designed primarily for Art Majors, Minors and advanced students who want to work with a professor on one or several independent projects over the course of the semester. These courses require approval. Please inquire with the individual instructor for more information.

These courses include:

ARTS 221 — Directed Study in Printmaking
ARTS 312 — Drawing III: Directed Studies
ARTS 321 — Printmaking: Directed Study
ARTS 330 — Photography Studio III
ARTS 351 — Painting III: Directed Study
ARTS 355 — Advanced Painting Studio
ARTS 358 — Advanced Painting Studio II
ARTS 431 — Photography IV-Directed Study
ARTS 435 — Adv. Photography Studio
ARTS 455 — Adv. Painting Studio
ARTS 470 — Art Internship

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Art History Courses

Ancient to Medieval Art

ARTH101 — Ancient to Medieval Art surveys the art and architecture from the Paleolithic period through the Gothic period. Within a roughly chronological structure, we will explore the art of these periods in relation to their broader cultural, intellectual and historical contexts. In addition to emphasizing the developments that define each historical period, we will consider the aesthetic advances made with the painting materials and methods available at the time.  

This course is taught by Professor Barrett Tilney.

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Renaissance to Modern Art

ARTH 102 — Renaissance to Modern Art surveys over six centuries of art to serve as an introduction to the history of Western culture, aesthetics, and civilization. During the semester, we will consider the work of major artists and artistic movements in the history of art from the beginning of the Italian Renaissance through the Modern era. The emphasis is on painting, sculpture, and architecture. The interaction of art and society will be explored through the chronological presentation of historical periods, permitting us to study the transformation of style and taste in relation to the changing culture and history of a particular time. The aim of the course is to provide a coherent framework for understanding the history of art in Europe and North America after 1300.

This course is taught by Professor Susan Nalezyty.

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Baroque Art

ARTH130 — Baroque Art introduces students to painting, prints, sculpture and architecture produced in the seventeenth century – the age of the Baroque. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, regional distinctions arise in the context of explosive scientific discoveries, significant political changes, transformed religious beliefs, and wide reaching trade and exploration. We will examine selected works of art produced by artists such as Caravaggio, Velazquez, Poussin, Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer in Italy, Spain, France, Flanders and the Dutch Republic in the framework of the cultural, political, religious, and intellectual changes that make the art of this period so distinctive.

This course is taught by Professor Barrett Tilney.

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Northern Renaissance Art

ARTH 228 – Northern Renaissance Art explores art made in the Netherlands, Germany, and France c. 1300-1575, which includes an amazing variety of work produced for courts, churches, civic bodies, and private individuals among growing middle classes in the cities. Who paid for art? How was it produced? What roles did it play in society, politics, religion, and daily life? Why did so many new kinds of subject matter emerge in European art of this period? With emphasis on the highly original and influential work of such leading figures as Jan van Eyck, Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Bosch, and Pieter Bruegel, we will consider functions, meanings, and markets of art in a period of dramatic change.

This course is taught by Professor Alfred Acres.

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German Art: Romantic to Weimar

ARTH 248 German Art: Romantic to Weimar This mid-level survey course explores the history of art in Germany-speaking countries from the late 18th-century to 1937. We begin with the Neo-Classic philosophy of Winckelmann and proceed to the Romanticism of Caspar David Friedrich and onward to the naturalist Adolph von Menzel, the Expressionist Brücke and Blaue Reiter groups, the Bauhaus collective, the Dadaists, Nazi architecture, and more. We will look at the birth of German film and modern theatre and will read Georg Kaiser’s Expressionist play Gas I. The class ends with an examination of the infamous “Degenerate Art” exhibition, organized in 1937 by the Nazis as an attack on modern art. In addition to serving as a corrective to Franco-centric art history, this class suggests important approaches to thinking about various social and political issues that continue to resonate with us today. (No knowledge of German required.) 

This course is taught by Professor Elizabeth Prelinger.

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History of Architecture

ARTH 249 – History of Architecture investigates major works of architecture from a broad array of cultures and locales from the ancient era to 1750. Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque monuments will be analyzed within their cultural context. African and Asian case studies will also be incorporated within this global survey. Students will gain familiarity with the language of architecture and its diverse materials, function, styles and meaning. Issues relating to patronage, cross-cultural diffusion and urban planning will also be addressed.

This course is taught by Stephanie Rufino.

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History of Photography

ARTH 256 — History of Photography surveys the history of photography, and lens-based media generally, from its inception in 1839 through the late 20th century. Lectures are generally chronological, covering important developments—from the calotype to street photography, to drone warfare and everything between—but we will also frame our conversations around thematic problems. These include problems of equity and representation, photojournalist ethics, looking and the gaze, and the shift from analog to digital techniques.

This course is taught by Ian Bourland.

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Chinese Art

ARTH 271: Chinese Art surveys the art and architecture of China from the prehistoric period to the present-day. The unfolding of various artistic and architectural traditions in China was marked by regional developments, the emergence of different religious and philosophical systems, as well as by interactions with China’s neighbors. The topics that we will study include: bronze ritual vessels, Buddhist cave shrines, landscape painting, ceramics for domestic use and international trade, gardens and literati or gentlemanly culture, the impact of the Jesuits upon Chinese court arts, and the response of modern artists to traditional artistic techniques as well as to the dramatic upheavals of 20th century China. Emphasis will be placed upon the interrelationship between the visual properties of art objects and their materials and techniques, as well as the historical, social, and cultural contexts of their production. No prior knowledge of Asian art is required or assumed. 

This course is taught by Professor Michelle Wang.

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Race & Color in Latin American Art

ARTH 420, Race & Color in Latin American Art examines the history of portraiture and casta paintings in Latin America from the late sixteenth through the early nineteenth century. The course primarily focuses on casta paintings—a unique pictorial genre that appropriated as its subject the issue of race and miscegenation. By studying casta paintings and portraits commissioned by the Spanish elite, the course studies the pivotal role that art played in maintaining and exacerbating inequalities based on color, race, and ethnicity. During Viceregal times, concepts of ethnicity, race, and identity were fundamental elements of social stratification based on physical characteristics, sumptuary rules, and statutory and customary laws that decreed the place of an individual in a certain casta based exclusively on the Spanish statute of limpieza de sangre (“purity of blood”). Placing particular emphasis on historical, social, cultural, economic, and political aspects, the course introduces students to major theoretical concepts of belonging, inclusion, and exclusion. Moreover, the seminar aims to understand the construction of racial identity in the viceroyalties and challenge the intersection of art, race, and class in Latin America.

This course is taught by Professor Andrea Gallelli Huezo.

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Blackness and Aesthetics

ARTH 455 — Blackness and Aesthetics considers the ways in which blackness—in both a racial and chromatic sense—has operated in the history of visual culture and its critical-aesthetic discourses. On one hand, this means questions of “value” and symbolic meaning in the construction of “western art history,” and the myriad formulations of specific Black or Black Atlantic arts; on the other hand, we will consider the ways in which debates around identity and political collectivity effect forms of practice that challenge the boundaries of location, medium, memory, and cultural politics.

This course is taught by Professor William Bourland.

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Post-Impressionism

ARTH 447 — Post-Impressionism The English critic Roger Fry coined the term “Post-Impressionism” in 1906 as a way of referring to the younger generation of avant-garde artists who came to the fore in the wake of the Impressionists. By the 8th and last Impressionist exhibition in 1886, it was clear that the participants had largely rejected what they viewed as the superficial Impressionist goals of capturing the ever-changing phenomena of the external world. Many of the so-called “Post-Impressionist” artists – who were not a coherent group and did not adhere to a particular style – instead turned inward, seeking strategies for visualizing their experience of ineffable products of the mind and the imagination. In this seminar, we will explore how such pursuits manifested themselves in the paintings of Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, and Paul Cézanne, among many others. While creating many of the great monuments of western European painting, these artists paved the way, both individually and collectively, for twentieth-century modernism.

This course is taught by Professor Elizabeth Prelinger.

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Asia/America

ARTH 469 — Asia/America examines art and design produced by people of Asian descent in the United States from the mid-19th century to the present day through the lenses of transnationalism, intersectionality, and artistic process. Previous histories of Asian-American art have focused either on narratives of exclusion due to the immigration bans of the late 19th to early 20th centuries, or on the cultural status of the Asian diaspora. Instead, we will insist upon the primacy of the contributions made by artists, designers, and architects of Asian descent to American art and culture, acknowledging that the history of American art and design cannot be told without a full accounting of the work of Chiura Obata, Ruth Asawa, Isamu Noguchi, Tseng Kwong Chi, Nam June Paik, Maya Lin, and many others. 

This course is taught by Professor Michelle Wang.

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Senior Thesis

ARTS 490, Senior Thesis: By arrangement with a faculty adviser, majors may write a senior thesis on an art historical topic of their choosing. The thesis is optional, but can serve as a capstone course that prepares students for future professional or graduate work.

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Art & Musuem Studies Courses

Collections Management

AMUS 510 — Collections Management focuses on general museum concepts and procedures as they relate to collections (objects and their documentation) and their management (e.g., preparation, preventive maintenance & conservation, housing, problem solving) as a whole. The course objectives are to introduce the participants to basic care and preservation of collections as well as a basic understanding of the history and current status of the governance of cultural materials. By the end of the course, participants should understand the definition and role of collections within a museum context; understand the philosophy of cultural preservation and the meaning of cultural patrimony; understand the importance of collection ethics and the role of collections within museum accountability and accreditation programs; understand the importance of a collections management policy, its development, content, and application; and how such a policy governs the daily activities within a museum’s collections.

This course is taught by Professor Jerry Foust.

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Museums and Social Justice

AMUS 515 — Museums and Social Justice What is the role of museums in fostering social justice? How can museums become more just institutions themselves, and how can they encourage us to treat one another more fairly? In this course, we will examine concepts such as acknowledgement, neutrality, empathy, equity, and decolonization as they relate to museum mission, exhibitions, collections, education, and staffing. We will take as case studies the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of the American Indian, and National Museum of African American History and Culture. Through a scaffolded research paper and presentation, as well as shorter assignments and group work, students will learn about museum practices and consider how those practices can better serve society. This course will include museum site visits that will take the place of class meetings. This course is designed for undergraduate as well as graduate students, and Juniors and Seniors may register with the permission of their dean and the instructor.

This course is taught by Professor Lisa Strong.

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Controversial Exhibitions

AMUS 526 — Controversial Exhibitions What similarities do controversial exhibitions of the past share and how might museums navigate or prevent future controversy? This course analyzes exhibitions that have offended communities including: Harlem on My Mind (1969), an exhibition about Harlem that included none of its artists; Robert Mapplethorpe’s The Perfect Moment (1989) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art that was cancelled due to political pressure and sparked the culture wars of the 90s; The West As America (1991) at the Smithsonian American Art Museum that attempted to retell the story of the American West through a more sympathetic view of those conquered; Sensation (1999) at the Brooklyn Museum that proved offensive on multiple levels including animal cruelty; Hide/Seek (2010) at the and National Portrait Gallery, another censorship issue. Recent exhibitions that have been insensitive to communities will also be researched and examined. The course includes weekly readings and responses, independent study opportunities at the Smithsonian, in class meetings with guest speakers involved in case study exhibitions, and an opportunity to create and navigate a potentially controversial exhibition proposal. Considering the impact on marginalized communities, case study exhibitions will be re-imagined to prevent injury and encourage understanding. Through exploring controversy and response to difficult subject matter, students will gain a greater understanding about the role and responsibilities of museums to their communities.

This course is taught by Professor Jayme McLellan.

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Museum Administration

AMUS 550 — Museum Administration The many facets of leadership and management in a museum setting are explored through topics including nonprofit organization governance, board/staff relations, strategic planning, financial and human resources management, and diverse community stakeholders. The course introduces the basic components of financial statements of special interest to government oversight agencies and funders. Students develop and write grant proposals with corresponding project budgets. Course sessions on institutional planning address emergency management scenarios. Guest speakers share unique expertise gleaned from hands-on experience in museum administration roles. Students learn about current and new management tools to support how museums respond to social change through understanding organizational and community contexts, informed decision-making about collections, interpretation and programming, and garnering public and private support.

This course is taught by Professor Carma Fauntleroy.

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Spring Internship

AMUS 531 Spring Internship — Internship in museums or arts organizations.

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