University of Mississippi

Art History

 

Art history majors obtain knowledge of the monuments and significant artists and artistic periods in Western and non-Western cultures. They take 3 courses in studio art to learn some of the art fundamentals, learn about art theory and criticism, conduct research, and discern the hidden/not-so hidden ideas behind images.

Benefits:

Not only do our students learn about the styles, trends, and developments of art history, but they gain proficiency with communicating their thoughts about artwork. Their critical thinking skills can be applied beyond the world of art.

Art history majors and minors go on to careers in arts administration, auction houses, art conservation, education, archives, visual resources, publishing, art criticism, museums, galleries, and historical societies.

Student Organization:

Vasari Society

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. In recent years, invitees from diverse institutions including Indiana University, Auburn, Memphis State, Appalachian State, and Holy Cross, have given presentations on medieval through contemporary art of the U.S., Europe, and Africa. Students have the opportunity to meet informally with these professionals over lunch and at receptions. A special treat was the opportunity to hear and meet with a former director of the Versailles museums in Paris. 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.


Outcomes:
A liberal arts-based education empowers students and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change through a broad knowledge of the world. Students develop a sense of social responsibility and key intellectual skills sought in the workforce such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to work with a diverse group of people. Related careers in art history include museum curator or educator, art critic or appraiser, or university teaching.


Unique Experiences:
UM Museum houses the David M. Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, one of the finest collections of its kind in the United States. Covering the 1000-year period from 800 B.C. to around 300 A.D., the collection contains Greek and Roman sculpture, Greek decorated pottery, inscriptions, architectural fragments, inscribed Sumerian clay tablets, small artifacts in terracotta and bronze, Roman copies of Greek art works, ancient surgical instruments, and Greek and Roman coins.


Faculty Profile:

Dr. Nancy Wicker, Professor of Art History and recent National Humanities Center Fellow, has an interdisciplinary research focus on the art of Scandinavia during the Early Medieval Period, from the Migration Period of the 5th and 6th centuries through the Viking Age, c. 750-1100. 

https://news.olemiss.edu/um-professor-sheds-light-vikings-often-overlooked-artistic-side/

One current project is to help create Project Andvari that will share information about art and material culture. Art historians, literary scholars, archaeologists, and museum professionals from the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and US developed the conceptual foundations for the system funded by a grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities.

“Our goal is to build an online database to facilitate access to digital collections of art and artifacts from early medieval northern Europe – including that of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons,” said Wicker. “Our project presents a constructive solution to the problematic issues of access and information-sharing that result from the nearly overwhelming explosion of digital resources that are now available.”

Alumni Profile:
Mattie Codling (B.A. in Art History, Anthropology, 2013) used her internship at the UM Museum to further prepare for a museum career. She curated an exhibit of Southern folk art including artist research, choosing the pieces to illustrate their style, and designing the exhibit. She completed the M.A. in Art History at Florida State Univ. in 2015 and now works at the Mission San Luis Archaeological Site in Tallahassee, FL.