School of Art Launches Master of Arts in Art History Graduate Program
The accredited two-year graduate program is presented in partnership with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and specializes in the study of the arts of the Americas.
The program aims to educate students in multivocal and inclusive art history, as well as give students the interdisciplinary training and robust work experiences that they will need to thrive with an M.A. degree in industries that value visual literacy, creativity, communication, collaboration and research. The program prepares students for top Ph.D. programs in art history, but also facilitates other trajectories for those seeking to contribute to the arts and society with an M.A. degree.
"We are thrilled to launch another exceptional graduate program serving the state of Arkansas and beyond," said Marty Maxwell Lane, director of the School of Art and associate professor of graphic design. "This program has been designed to meet an urgent need across the art history discipline to expand the range of perspectives and reexamine art historical research and pedagogy. Students will be challenged in their critical thinking around art history while experiencing a unique cross-institutional education and unparalleled access to American art."
Graduate students accepted into the program will receive funding support during their two years of study, thanks to the generous gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.
"Our new M.A. program makes use of the remarkable resources in Northwest Arkansas, like the extraordinary collections at Crystal Bridges and our faculty's expertise in fields like Latinx art and African art," said John Blakinger, program director of art history and endowed associate professor of contemporary art. "We designed an innovative program that re-imagines what art history graduate study can be through a theme-based curriculum, hands-on learning with objects, unique opportunities for travel and internship experiences that will propel students into diverse arts careers."
The program curriculum is organized around key themes essential to understanding both the arts of the Americas and the social impacts of creative practice, globally, historically and in the present, through structures and systems, identity and community, environment, heritage, power and circulation.
New courses include seminars on monuments and public space, cross-cultural artistic production in the Atlantic world, spatial practices in Mesoamerica and New Spain, contemporary Native American art, and queer, trans and feminist art of the Americas. Courses will be taught and co-taught by the art history faculty and by staff at Crystal Bridges, The Momentary and the Art Bridges Foundation.
"When I joined the university in the fall of 2020, I met with dozens of colleagues and graduate students across the country to identify how we could make the greatest impact," said Jennifer Greenhill, endowed professor of American art and inaugural director of graduate studies and museum partnerships with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. "Everyone I spoke to was excited about the prospect of a generously funded M.A. with an emphasis on the Americas. Demand for specialists on American art, broadly conceived, is growing at colleges, museums, non-profits and other arts-related organizations, and the future is especially bright for scholars of African American art, Latin American, Latinx and Native American art. Our regional expertise in these areas is remarkable and will only grow with the new hires we make in the coming years across our institutions."
Art history faculty and colleagues also designed the new M.A. program around a central concern with promoting critical thinking about art-world and social structures, transnational and transcultural networks of relation and diverse perspectives on knowledge production and modes of creativity.
"The Master of Arts in art history program will shape a new generation of art historians by providing the analytical tools needed to critically engage art's histories and to enact a vision for institutional and social change through the arts," said Christopher Schulte, assistant director of the School of Art and endowed associate professor of art education. "Through professor Greenhill's leadership and collaborative approach to program development, the art history faculty has created a truly unique and transformative graduate experience."
Schulte said the program prioritizes experiential learning opportunities, and art history M.A. students will be matched with specific departments or projects for internships at Crystal Bridges and The Momentary, putting the skills acquired in the classroom to work.
In addition, students will participate in immersive travel courses that offer unprecedented access to private art collections, behind-the-scenes tours by museum curators, visits to off-the-beaten-path public art collections and discussions with scholars.
Travel courses include a 10-day intersession course focusing on sites and collections in the Southern United States and a summer session studying Mesoamerican, modern and contemporary art in Mexico.
Individuals interested in learning more about the program and application process are encouraged to register and attend an information session on Jan. 11 with the art history faculty.
The art history M.A. degree program is accepting applications for the 2023-24 academic year. All applications are due by Feb. 15, 2023.
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