Study abroad students in front of Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers, Rome.
Photo by Jim Ivey.
The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Art History is an interdisciplinary, liberal arts program focused on the history of art and architecture. The discipline is firmly grounded in visual literacy: the ability to interpret ideas presented through imagery. Art history involves the close examination of formal qualities such as material, texture, size, shape, color, light, and craft as well as the analysis of stylistic trends and conceptual approaches to art-making. Also critical is cultural context, which serves as a driving force for creativity throughout the history of art. Because of this, students are encouraged to deepen their knowledge of distinct cultural eras along with the ideas, trends, and occurrences that influence worldviews over time. The major is demanding as it requires careful looking and critical thinking. Because art historical analysis is presented through spoken and written words, excellent communication skills are essential and promoted through course work.
To facilitate the accrual of cultural knowledge, the art history program begins with "Art in Culture," a two-semester sequence that surveys the history of art from its earliest manifestations (prehistoric cave paintings) to the most recent developments of contemporary art in the twenty-first century. Advanced courses center on arts of particular periods and cultures, specific themes and topics in visual culture, and methodological and theoretical concerns. Upper-level classes concentrate on the in-depth examination of Precolumbian, Medieval, Renaissance, modern, and contemporary works of art. To enhance cultural learning, art history majors are required to fulfill a minor, second major or a full semester study abroad program, determined by the academic interests of individual students. To foster a better understanding of the creative process, two studio courses are required as part of the art history curriculum.
The major provides an excellent background for students wishing to pursue graduate study or careers in a number of fields, including museum and gallery professions, art conservation, visual resources management, secondary education, and arts administration. The BA in Art History also supports other majors within the Department of Visual Arts and New Media, and allows students in these programs to form vital links between their studio experiences and their broader liberal arts education. Art history majors at SUNY Fredonia have been successful in securing internships at institutions such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, Memorial Art Gallery and George Eastman House in Rochester, Erie Art Museum, and Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts. Graduates have entered Master of Arts programs in art history, education, library and information sciences, and museum studies, among others.