Art History, Theory, and Criticism
Art History, Theory, & Criticism
Sometimes young artists focus so much on the process of their art that they don't do enough thinking about what they're making. Artists need to be able to place their work in historical and theoretical context. These issues define Western State Colorado University's strong art history emphasis, and also the backbone of its program in art history, theory, and criticism. There is also a practical basis for this program: "Our department helps bridge the gap between the practicing fine artist and the person who gets a job," says Al Caniff, art department chair. "We supplement the studio areas by helping students develop better visual and verbal analysis-skills that carry over to many art-related professions such as museum or gallery work, writing criticism, collecting and cataloguing, and teaching." Within an unusually broad curriculum, art history faculty teach not only the traditional chronological or period courses in world art history, but also the history of every medium taught at Western, courses organized by theme or around contemporary issues, courses in theory and criticism of art, and practicum courses.
The department emphasizes art and architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries, and includes courses in Western art and Native, Middle, Central and South American art. For more advanced students, the department offers courses in theory and criticism. With their emphasis on researching, organizing, and evaluating writings about art,students are able to develop their own critical and theoretical points of view. These classes enable the teaching styles of our faculty to vary their classroom methods which include lecture, discussion, video presentations, seminar, team-teaching, guest lecturers, and on-site study.
Western State Colorado University's art history department draws on all the riches of the western slope, including archeological digs, museums, libraries, galleries, and artists' studies. Students view original work and interact with artists from a range of disciplines. During the summer or interim sessions, the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism sponsors another rich source of inspiration: foreign study trips to such places as Mexico. These trips offer a structured art historical experience in a foreign culture, with sufficient freedom for students to explore, photograph, and sketch on their own.
The departmental emphasis consists of one full-time faculty member, and a larger group of part-time faculty members from other areas in the department. As teachers and advisers, these faculty are available to meet with students, discuss projects, concerns, or ideas, and respond to students' studio work. It is not unusual to find studio faculty members co-teaching courses on issues in 20th-century arts, and art history professors giving critiques in the studios - thus bridging what might otherwise be an artificial gap between art history and artmaking. Such integration of theory and practice embodies Western State Colorado University's distinctive philosophy.