Jul 25, 2024  
College Catalog 2024-2025 
College Catalog 2024-2025

Art and Art History

Faculty: Ruthann Godollei, Summer Hills-Bonczyk, Mara Duvra, Joanna Inglot, Lela Pierce, Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Megan Vossler (Chair), Chris Willcox, Serdar Yalçin

The Art and Art History Department combines within a single department the creative aspects of artmaking (Studio Art program) and the study of art as a historical and theoretical discipline (Art History program). The Department offers opportunities for students to increase their understanding of the meaning and purpose of the visual arts, historical developments in the field, and the roles of visual art in culture and society. Students develop technical knowledge and creative skills by studying painting, drawing, printmaking, design, sculpture, ceramics, and photography, and by learning art history across different historical epochs and cultures. By combining theory and practice, and through cross-listing with other departments, the Art and Art History Department provides students with rich interdisciplinary offerings that broaden the scope of a liberal arts education.

The faculty of the Art and Art History Department consists of professional artists and scholars who are experienced teachers committed to ensuring a rich and balanced curriculum for:

  1. Students wishing to gain familiarity with studio practice and/or the history of art, for a general education and enhanced appreciation of art;
  2. Students pursuing careers as professional artists or in arts-related fields. These students will acquire advanced skills in specialized media for further work in the professional field or on a graduate level; 
  3. Students interested in a historical and philosophical understanding of art and culture, to pursue careers in art history, museum work, gallery work, or other areas of the fine arts and humanities. These students will gain advanced historical and theoretical knowledge of visual culture, as well as excellent research and writing skills to continue graduate work in the discipline or related fields.

The Studio Art and Art History programs are designed to encourage a synthesis of art practice and scholarly work. The department offers a Studio Art major and minor, and an Art History major and minor. Students must choose one area in which to major or minor: either Studio Art or Art History (a double major or major/minor within the Department is not allowed.) Non-majors are welcome and encouraged to enroll in Art and Art History courses, and are always encouraged to visit our studios, events, and Gallery exhibitions.

The Department features an extensive exhibition program in the Law Warschaw Gallery, located in the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Commons. The Gallery hosts five to six exhibitions per year, bringing students in direct contact with living artists as well as diverse art and cultures from contemporary and historical periods. The exhibition program is an integral part of classroom instruction: classes routinely visit the Gallery, analyzing artwork and discussing issues raised in the exhibitions. The Gallery also serves as a venue for Art History students to learn curatorial practices, and it provides a professional setting for Studio Art students to exhibit their work in two group exhibitions during spring semester (the annual Spring Salon: Juried Student Exhibition, and the Senior Capstone Exhibition).

Throughout the year, the Department offers varied programs including visiting artists, scholarly lectures, and other presentations, discussions, and symposia, to enrich intellectual exchange and to enhance the student learning experience at Macalester.

Art Alliance

The Art Alliance is a student-run organization that plans special activities related to Studio Art for Art and Art History majors, minors and other interested students. 

Art History Club

The Art History Club is a student-run organization that plans special activities for Art and Art History majors, minors and other interested students.

Visual Resources Library

The Visual Resources Library, located on the second floor of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Commons, hosts an ever-growing digital collection of over 20,000 images for use in teaching and research. Equipped with professional grade scanners, the VRL works with faculty and students to find and produce high-quality images and other media.

General Distribution Requirement

All Art and Art History courses count toward the general distribution requirement in Fine Arts. Topics courses taught by other departments and cross-listed with Art and Art History may be counted for this requirement with special permission of faculty and Department Chair.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the College’s General Education requirements in Writing, Quantitative Thinking, Internationalism and U.S Identities and Differences will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements  section of this catalog.

Additional Requirements for Art and Art History Majors and Minors

Art and Art History Majors and Minors Information Meeting

The Art and Art History Department hosts an informational meeting in the fall and spring of each year for all students considering a major or minor in Studio Art or Art History. The meetings are publicized in advance, and students are encouraged to indicate their intention to attend to the Department Coordinator. At the meeting, students will meet the Department Chair, as well as representative faculty from both the Studio Art and Art History programs, and will learn about the steps of declaring a major or minor, including Honors and Study Away information.

Junior Reviews: Studio Art and Art History

In the spring of their junior year, all Studio Art and Art History majors participate in a faculty-led review of their work alongside their peers. Studio Art majors are required to show examples of their most accomplished artwork for the review, and to prepare an oral statement regarding the concepts and themes that may lead into their capstone project. Art History majors are required to make a brief oral presentation on their direction in the major, and to present a plan for a capstone project they will undertake in the senior year. The purpose of the Junior Review, for both Studio Art and Art History, is to provide students with comments from the faculty about their work done for the major so far, to make suggestions for further work in their area of interest, and to discuss their goals and objectives for their upcoming capstone projects.

Senior Capstone Project

Senior Studio Seminar (ART 488 ) provides a setting in which Studio Art majors complete their capstone projects, culminating in a professional public exhibition of their artwork. The seminar meets during the spring semester to discuss the theoretical foundations of contemporary art, in order to help students contextualize their own work. Faculty and students discuss graduate school opportunities and career paths in visual art. Students learn how to write a professional artist statement, a professional artist’s resume, and gain practice in applying for grant funding, alongside additional aspects of professional practice in Studio Art.

Art History Methodology Seminar (ART 487 ) provides a setting in which Art History majors complete their capstone projects, which consist of a 25-30 page research paper along with a required public presentation at the end of the academic year. The seminar, which meets in the spring, covers different methodological approaches to art history and teaches students how to apply these methods to their own research.

Art History majors must also enroll for a 2-credit independent study in the fall semester of their senior year to fulfill their capstone requirement.

Honors Projects

The Art and Art History Department participates in the College Honors program, in both  Studio Art and Art History. Honors projects are considered by application in the fall semester of senior year and are accepted based on GPA, the strength of the proposed project, and the willingness of an individual faculty member to supervise the independent work of the student. Honors projects in Studio Art require the student to complete a two-semester studio capstone project, culminating in a solo exhibition in the Koch Gallery as part of the Honors Defense. Honors projects in Art History require the student to complete a two-semester research project, including a 50-60 page thesis paper and a public presentation. 

Detailed eligibility requirements, application procedures, deadlines, and specific project expectations for Honors in Studio Art or Art History are available from the Department Chair.

Distinguished Merit Awards

In the spring of each year the faculty of the Art and Art History Department selects the senior recipients of departmental Distinguished Merit Awards. These awards recognize comprehensive achievement in Studio Art and Art History and are made based on a review of the student’s work done over an extended period of time, including but not limited to the work done for their final capstone projects. Students receiving these awards will be notified by the Department Chair near the end of the spring semester.

Topics Courses

ART 194 , ART 294 , ART 394 , ART 494  

Topics courses are occasional, often experimental courses, offered by instructors at their own initiative or in response to student requests. Detailed information announced at registration. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The Department offers independent study options in the form of tutorials, independent projects, internships, and preceptorships. For more information contact the department office and review the Curriculum  section of the catalog.