Art history is the study of art in its various forms throughout the history of humankind. All students in the Department of Art take courses in art history in which they examine works of art in their historical, social, and political contexts. Students majoring or minoring in art history take additional courses, studying prominent artists and artistic movements, past and present, in Western and non-Western cultures, augmented at the advanced level by in-depth study of selected media and periods in the history of art.
The department’s primary lecture halls for art history classes are located on the first floor of Meek Hall, where both the Auditorium and Room 120 feature new infrastructure for digital projection, in addition to the possibility to use traditional dual 35mm slide projection. Art history courses are also conducted in the University Museum and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. The Department of Art’s permanent collection of art, the Visual Resource Center, and Gallery 130 also contribute to the teaching of art history. Additional campus facilities that provide a variety of pedagogical support for art history courses include the University Museum, the J. D. Williams Library, the Faculty Technology Development Center, and the print collection of the Southern Graphics Council.
The Visual Resource Center:
The Visual Resource Center (VRC) supports the teaching of art history by producing and maintaining a collection of digitized images. In 2004, the VRC initiated the creation of an internal digital image database. By 2007, the collection was launched online as UMDID.org (University of Mississippi Digital Image Database), and it currently includes over 33,000 images for teaching art history. It is an invaluable tool for the department’s art historians and for studio artists in the department, too. The VRC also houses and maintains an analog collection of over 90,000 art history slides used for research and education.
The student organization for art history, the Vasari Society, is named for the “grandfather” of art history, Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), who is famous for his biographies of Italian Renaissance artists. Membership in this group certainly is not limited to art history majors and minors. Studio artists and other students from across the university who are interested in art are warmly encouraged to join.
Vasari members usually meet once a month and often gather informally at area exhibitions, such as at Southside Gallery and the Powerhouse during the poplar Oxford “Art Crawl.” They sponsor “movie nights,” when films dealing with art and art history are shown, and travel together to view exhibitions in Memphis and elsewhere. With support from the university’s Associated Student Body, Vasari brings outside lecturers to the campus. Past speakers have included a University of Mississippi alumna author of a book on Robert Rauschenberg, a curator from the Memphis Brooks Museum, and a curator/educator from the University of St. Thomas who spoke about how students can gain experience in museums and galleries. Last year Professor Virginia Chieffo Raguin of the College of the Holy Cross was invited to present two lectures about Gothic and contemporary stained glass. Other activities being planned include a behind-the-scenes tour of the University Museum by the collections manager and presentations by faculty members about their research. For information, contact Vasari faculty advisor Professor N. L. Wicker at 662-915-1293, nwicker @olemiss.edu, or firstname.lastname@example.org.