Art History


Art History and Visual Culture Studies are two related fields that study art and visual artifacts made by individuals from various cultures and parts of the world.  Art history is traditionally concerned with the description and interpretation of the fine arts, including paintings, prints, sculptures, and architecture, while Visual Culture Studies also investigates visual communication, photography, graphic design, film, and advertising.

Historians of art and visual culture combine research, theory, and analysis to present oral and written arguments with clarity and economy.  Skills required within the field include:

  • interpretive research skills,
  • ability to describe and classify accurately and articulately,
  • ability to connect objects to their historical contexts,
  • critical thinking skills,
  • attention to detail,
  • intellectual creativity and curiosity,
  • appreciation of aesthetics,
  • communication skills, including public speaking skills and digital media,
  • foreign language skills,
  • organization skills,
  • interpersonal and collaboration skills, and
  • self-discipline.

These skills are desirable in a wide range of careers both in and out of the arts. 

At Siena Heights, you can develop these skills while investigating a wide variety of art and visual culture.  The Freshman Foundations Core Concept courses, which are prerequisites for all other art history courses, help you to develop your ability to:

  • describe,
  • research,
  • interpret,
  • think critically,
  • communicate, and
  • collaborate. 

A menu of six lower-level courses is offered to students who have completed the Foundations Core Concepts courses.  These include Ancient to Medieval Art, Renaissance to Modern Art, American Art, History of Graphic Design, Film Study and Analysis, and Non-Western Art.  The Non-Western Art course is required for all students majoring or minoring in art history or wanting to pursue a degree in art education, while the History of Graphic Design is required for students majoring in Graphic Design.

Once you have completed one of the six lower-level courses listed above, you may enroll in the following upper-level art history courses: Introduction to Visual Culture, Late 20th-Century Art, History of Photography, and Nineteenth-Century Art.  These courses ask you to demonstrate your research and writing skills as you pursue independent research projects.  Students majoring in Graphic Design are required to complete Introduction to Visual Culture, while students majoring in Fine Arts must complete Late 20th-Century Art.

A distinctive feature of the Art History degree at Siena Heights is that it is a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and thus requires the student to complete a studio concentration.  Students who select to concentrate in Digital Media while pursuing the BFA in Art History will be prepared to contribute to the emerging field of Digital Humanities. 

Faculty who teach in the program include:

Professor of Art History Peter Barr, PhD, Boston University

Foundations Core Concepts I & II
Ancient to Medieval Art
Renaissance to Modern Art
American Art
History of Graphic Design
Neoclassicism to Impressionism
History of Photography
Late 20th-Century Art

Professor of Theater and Speech Communications Mark DiPietro, MFA, Brandeis University

Film Study and Analysis

Assistant Professor of English Matthew Barbee, PhD, Bowling Green State University

Introduction to Visual Culture

Adjuct Instructor Lynn Brinkman, MA, Bowling Green State University

African Art

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License