Art Across Time
Students introduce local residents to a variety of topics in art history
Georgetown residents who take advantage of classes offered through the Senior University program had a new class to choose from this semester: an art history colloquium taught by students from Southwestern University.
“Senior University requested a course on art history, and we suggested that it might be mutually advantageous to have art history majors lead the course,” said Allison Miller, assistant professor of art history. “Many participants in Senior University are big supporters of Southwestern and also attend a lot of Southwestern events. However, they often wish that they had more contact with students. We thought this would be a great way to bring the two populations together.”
Many of the classes offered through Senior University are taught by current or retired faculty members. This year, the Art History Department decided to allow students the opportunity to get some hands-on experience with teaching. They selected six students based on a competitive application process to teach classes on a subject of their choice. The class, which is called “Art Across Time in the West,” meets Tuesday evenings in the Fine Arts Building.
“Many of our students, particularly seniors, begin graduate programs in art history or work in museums and galleries following graduation,” Miller said. “This experience allows them to get real-world experience teaching and presenting on a subject they know well.”
The classes progress in chronological order, beginning with Ancient Greece. This class was taught by senior MLe McWilliams, and it was titled “Ancient Greek Bodies: A Look into Greece’s Archaic Period of Sculpture.” McWilliams first became interested in this style of art in middle school, and decided in high school that she wanted to study it as a career. Her class focused on looking at the transformation of Greek art over a period of 200 years.
“My class was really excited to look at how art evolved from an almost rectangular figure to a much more realistic-looking and natural-looking figure, and we also looked at some funerary statues,” McWilliams said. “There were supposed to be 25 people since there are 25 desks in the classroom; however, more people showed up than we had desks for. It was really cool.”
Senior Rachael Regan was chosen to host a class on “The Rise of the Gothic: Transformation in Medieval Church Building.” Regan plans to pursue a master’s degree in Gothic architecture and later teach at the university level. In her class, she focused on the emergence of Gothic architecture within the church.
“My favorite piece is probably the church of St. Remi in Reims, which I visited while I was in France,” she said. “My presentation shed some light on a phenomena people know of, but may not know much about.”
German art then enters the scene through senior Elizabeth Kajs and her class, “Locating the Sublime in Nature: German Romanticism and Caspar David Friedrich.” She considers this class a “mock trial” to teaching and will help her decide if she would like to do this as a career.
“I think the goal with any art history class is so you can really go into a gallery or museum and feel more comfortable, like you have your own opinion,” Kajs said. “German Romanticism isn’t talked about a lot, so it’s a subject that most people probably don’t know about. I thought this would be different and new and diverse, and I think it fits nicely with the wide spectrum of classes that are available. I just hope it’s fun and they learn something.”
December graduate Megan DiNoia will also make a guest appearance to present her class on “The Femme Fatale: Rejection and Empowerment of the fin de siecle Woman.” She chose this topic through a combination of interests in turn-of-the-century European art and the feminist perspective, and she describes this time period as “a fascinating and frustrating time for women, because on one hand, they were gaining a lot of autonomy and recognition in society, but on the other hand, were being ‘villainized’ and were often so poor that they were prostitutes or had drug problems, so the femme fatale image that became so popular during that time was both a representation of how far women had come, an image of power, and a rejection of that power, as evil seductresses that degrade society.”
Avery Centala and Christina Hadly will also teach classes on “Da Vinci’s Female Portraiture” and “John Chamberlain and the Masculinity of Hot Rod Culture” respectively.
− Devin Corbitt