Art and Art History
Majors and Minors
Faculty and professional interests
Mark Holmes, chair (on leave Fall 2013)
Sculpture, ceramics, drawing
Printmaking, drawing, painting
Printmaking, sculpture, site-specific art
Gregory Gilbert, Director, Program in Art History
Art history, critical theory
Design and new media
Cooperating faculty from other programs
Stephen Fineberg, Classics
The Department of Art and Art History offers majors and minors in both Studio Art and Art History. Each is a rigorous program of study, reflecting the goals and values of liberal arts education. The members of the faculty are a diverse group of practicing artists and intellectuals, committed to representing the complex relationships which link the material and visual aspects of art-making to the full spectrum of experiences and ideas which make us human. Courses emphasize the contextual understanding of art as it shapes and reflects broader cultural realities. Knox art majors benefit from a richly challenging education, preparing them to flourish as thoughtful professionals and participants in visual culture.
The study of art provides a rich and transformative arena to understand and develop creative potential, and for many Knox students, creative work in art is central to their intellectual and personal growth. The goal of the Studio Art curriculum is to develop and activate the material, visual, and intellectual skills that are the foundations of art-making. Courses in drawing, painting, printmaking, design, ceramics, photography, and sculpture provide exposure to the methods, ideas, and visual languages of contemporary idioms and historical traditions of art-making. Through creative exploration and critical analysis, students expand and activate their knowledge. Visits to galleries and museums are part of every course, and allow students to deepen their understanding through first-hand analysis of significant works of art.
Intermediate courses deepen creative investigation of the material and visual aspects of art-making, while also developing critical understandings that will help students access the ideas of historical, modern, and contemporary art. Through intermediate courses, students come to a preliminary sense of their creative direction, and acquire critical and visual tools for self-directed work in upper-level courses. Concurrently, Art History courses consider art within a variety of theoretical, social, political, and philosophical contexts. Through Art History, critical theory, and an emphasis on discourse, students learn to think and communicate about art with clarity. Studio Art students frequently inform their work by drawing on their studies in other disciplines.
Upper level inter-media Studio Art courses provide the creative and intellectual environment necessary for aspiring artists to develop their work through increasing levels of independence. Students working in a variety of media form a challenging and supportive creative community in which to shape and further their artistic direction. Exercises and collaborative projects are used to challenge and/or disrupt creative habits and encourage experimentation outside of a student's area of competence. Class time is devoted to critiques and discussion of student work with two or more studio faculty. Through upper-level study, students begin to integrate the complex web of concepts, personal experience, and visual knowledge into a creative practice that is fully their own. Open Studio is the culminating experience of the Studio Art major, and allows seniors to intensively pursue their work in an immersive and challenging Winter Term in preparation for Senior exhibits.
The Art History program offers a comprehensive range of courses focusing on a variety of stylistic periods and cultures, which includes such multicultural offerings as Native Arts of the Americas. As a means of emphasizing art's interdisciplinary meaning and relevance, the Art History program offers multiple courses cross listed with Classics, American Studies, Latin American Studies and Film Studies. There is a strong emphasis on modern and contemporary art, along with courses on visual culture studies, art historical methodologies and critical theory. Art History majors typically begin their study with introductory survey courses and proceed through more advanced period surveys which examine art in relationship to its intellectual, cultural and social contexts. Art History courses also actively consider artistic practices in relation to issues of psychology, gender, sexuality and racial identity. The major's abilities in independent analysis and research are further developed in special topic seminars and a capstone course in Art History methodology. The Art History program culminates in a senior thesis project, which involves intensive research on a focused and original art historical topic that is formally presented in a senior symposium. Through this training, majors are not only skilled in analyzing and critiquing art historical scholarship, but are fully engaged in developing and presenting their own interpretive ideas.
The Art History program is also dedicated to various mentoring structures for pre-professional development and preparation for applying to graduate programs. Through workshops and special guest lectures, Art History majors are advised on graduate school preparation and careers in art history. For students specifically interested in museum or gallery careers, the program offers training with exhibition projects on campus and also assists students with applying to curatorial internships both nationally and abroad.
- The 'Box' is an off-campus gallery and studio space located in a refurbished industrial building in downtown Galesburg. With 15-foot ceilings and two thousand feet of exhibit space, the Box hosts a variety of exhibits and events throughout the year. It also serves as a teaching gallery where students install their work to get experience planning and hanging exhibitions. The Box also provides studio and installation space for large, experimental, or site-specific works
- A regular exhibit schedule brings noted artists to campus to exhibit and lecture about their work.
- Each fall the Box hosts an annual ten-week artist in residence, who produces and exhibits a body of work. Resident artists also mentor advanced students and interact with the Galesburg community.
- Knox in New York is a bi-annual course culminating in a two week visit to New York City for an intensive exposure to New York's art culture. In addition to their immersion in museums and galleries, students take an intensive drawing course though the New York Studio School, visit artist's studios and attend lectures.
- Art students have access to a rich array of off-campus and summer opportunities. The department maintains affiliations with a variety of summer art programs, overseas study programs, and internship opportunities.
- Open Studio is an immersive capstone experience for the Studio Art Major, allowing seniors to spend a full term developing a body of work while taking no other classes.
- Faculty members mentor students in professional development opportunities and provide assistance in preparing graduate school and other applications.
The departmental curriculum contributes to the College's Key Competency Requirements as follows:
- Writing Key Competency - ART 221, 222, 224, 225, 226, 246, 261, and 342 serve as writing-intensive courses for majors
- Speaking Key Competency - ART 390 serves as a speaking-intensive course for Studio Art majors. ART 399A serves as a speaking-intensive course for Art History majors
- Information Literacy and Informed Use of Technology - Studio Art majors acquire technology and information literacy skills through the use of appropriate software in photography, digital art, and through the development of design skills. Studio Art majors are also required to take Art History courses through which both information literacy and appropriate use of technology are further developed. Art History courses numbered 200 and above include library research workshops, in which they are introduced to a variety of technological research tools and sources, including journal databases, online dictionaries, electronic journals, informational web sites, and digital images.
Departmental Learning Goals
Students completing an Art History major will be able to:
- (Visual Literacy) Identify and define the elements of key styles related to the major period divisions in Western Art History from the prehistoric era through the 20th century. Majors should also be conversant with the visual traditions of at least one non-Western field
- (Contextual/Interdisciplinary Understanding of Visual Culture) Situate and interpret the stylistic and iconographic meaning of works of art in broader social, historical and intellectual contexts
- (Knowledge of Critical Theory/Methodologies) Understand, evaluate and compare the major critical methods for analyzing art and other examples of visual culture.
- (Close Critical Reading and Understanding of Art Historical Literature) Research and locate key secondary sources, identify art historical arguments, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of art historical analysis and understand their relation to major critical methods and theoretical trends in the field.
- (Independent Thinking/Research Skills) Develop an independent research project on an original art historical topic: identify a critical issue or question in a specific area of study; thoroughly gather, evaluate and synthesize primary and secondary sources; construct a rigorous and original art historical argument supported by key evidence, independent interpretive insights and scholarly assessments; and present this research in a well-written, fully documented paper and oral presentation.
Students completing a Studio Art major should:
- Learn to speak and write clearly about their work. They should demonstrate awareness of historical and intellectual contexts, creative intentions, and visual understandings that motivate their work.
- Demonstrate progress in their understanding, sensitivity, and application of visual knowledge.
- Learn to manipulate the materials of their medium, and show a willingness to experiment with new materials and techniques. Over time, they should understand that material choices and practices have complex visual consequences that contribute to the meaning of a work.
- Be equipped with a variety of ‘professional’ skills - including planning and hanging exhibits, photographing and documenting their work,writing applications for graduate schools, grants and residencies.
- Exhibit sustained enthusiasm, curiosity, and receptivity to new or unfamiliar intellectual and creative challenges. They should stay interested and informed about current and historical art, and remain engaged participants in visual culture.