Christina Neilson, Associate Professor of Renaissance and Baroque Art History, Co-Chair
Julia Christensen, Associate Professor of Studio Art, Co-Chair
Bonnie Cheng, Associate Professor
Farshid Emami, Assistant Professor
Erik Inglis, Professor
Christina Neilson, Associate Professor
Matthew Rarey, Assistant Professor
Julia Christensen, Associate Professor
Johnny Coleman, Professor
Pipo Nguyen-Duy, Professor
Kristina Paabus, Associate Professor
Sarah Schuster, Associate Professor
Nanette Yannuzzi, Professor
The Department of Art faculty consists of a nearly even number of artists and art historians. These numbers underscore the department’s interest in, and commitment to, a balanced study of the visual arts in a liberal arts curriculum. The Allen Memorial Art Museum is an important resource for art students. Courses routinely meet there and students have the opportunity to participate in the Museum’s Docent program. Introductory courses-whether in studio or art history-presuppose that the student has no prior experience in art. The three majors offered-art history, studio, and visual arts-are designed to offer individuals a solid preparation for graduate school or a career in art-related fields.
Majors in the Art Department:
The Department of Art insists that its programs of major study be deeply integrated with the overall liberal arts education that Oberlin both endorses and offers. In planning their programs of study, students should therefore keep in mind the fact that all three major programs may be completed within the two final years of work towards the BA degree. Requirements for the three majors are as follows:
Major in Art History
The department offers four levels of art history courses. Courses with 100 numbers provide a broad introduction to the field and are open without prerequisite. Majors are required to take ARTS 299, preferably in their sophomore year. Courses at the 300 and 400 level comprise the core of the major in Art History, and are available only to students who have completed the prerequisites or have received the instructor’s consent to enroll. At the 300- and 400-levels, students pursue advanced topics that provide training in art-historical research and writing. Some majors complete their work in the department in the year-long Honors (500-level) Program.
- 100-level courses provide entry into the Art History curriculum by introducing students to the methods and concepts of the discipline. Broad in geographic and temporal scope, they place particular emphasis on acquiring the visual skills necessary for the close, analytical scrutiny of works of art. The 100-numbered courses give access to 300-level courses.
- ARTS 299 is required for all majors and is intended to prepare students for advanced work in seminars. Non-majors are not required to take this before taking 300-level courses.
- 300-numbered courses focus on major periods and styles or are thematically oriented topics in the art-historical fields taught in the Department. We recommend a course at the 100-level prior to taking these courses.
- 400-numbered courses are seminars that focus on selected problems in art history in a discussion-oriented format with emphasis on individual presentations and research. They are intended for upper-level majors, and we strongly encourage majors take ARTS 299 prior to enrolling in 400-level courses (see “Stipulations”).
- 500-numbered course is the Honors sequence, available by departmental invitation or student petition to seniors (see “Honors”).
An art history major consists of a total of at least 11 full courses and language competency.
Major requirements within the department (9 full courses):
- one or two 100-level courses
- Methods course (ARTS 299) must be taken in the sophomore or junior year
- three 300-level courses
- two 400-level seminars taken at Oberlin
- one course in Studio Art
- No more than 2 courses at the 100-level may count toward the major (unless prior approval is received from the chair).
- The Methods course (ARTS 299) must be taken in sophomore or junior year and is a prerequisite to any seminar.
- At least one art history course must focus on non-western art.
- A course must be taken in at least 4 of the areas offered by the art history faculty (Ancient-Medieval, Renaissance-Baroque, Modern-Contemporary, Architectural History, East Asian, African and African Diaspora, Islamic art).
- Honors does not count toward the 9-course requirement.
- Private readings will be HC and do not count towards the 9-course requirement.
Major requirements outside the department (2 Full Courses plus language competency):
- Two courses outside of the Art Department (these should be chosen in consultation with your advisor to reflect your special geographic or chronological area of interest or a thematic focus in art history).
- A demonstrated ability to read a foreign language at the level of competence equal to two semesters of introductory language study at Oberlin. Students may meet this requirement in a number of ways, including but not limited to: (1) completing a two-semester introductory language course at Oberlin; (2) placing above the first-year level on a placement test administered by one of the language departments; or (3) transferring the equivalent of an Oberlin introductory language course taken elsewhere.
For students who are considering graduate work in Art History, the department strongly recommends advanced language courses. In general, within the first year of graduate study in any field of Western art, students are expected to demonstrate reading competency in French and German; for East Asian Art students will need a working knowledge of Japanese and/or Chinese. Depending on the area of specialization, other languages may also be necessary, e.g. Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese.
Courses in which a student earned a letter grade below a C-or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.
Minor in Art History
Students with 5 full courses in Art History may graduate with a minor in Art History entered on their transcripts. No more than 1 full course may be transferred for the minor in Art History; departmental approval is required for such transfers (see section on Major or Minor Credit for off-campus study).
Note: Students are responsible for notifying the Office of the Registrar if they wish to have the minor in Art History entered on their transcripts.
Major in Studio Art
The Studio Art major requires no fewer than 11 full courses in the manner listed below and keeping in mind the following: Students are required to take at least one course in Media (Photography, Integrated Media) and one in Traditional Media (Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Printmaking). The capstone course, Senior Studio and Thesis is a year long course and must be taken in succession during the final year. Introductory courses in Studio Art are open to students regardless of prior experience.
For those students considering a major in Studio Art, it is recommended that you make every effort to enroll in four studio courses by the end of your sophomore year.
Required courses are:
- Two “Visual Concepts and Process: [Discipline]” courses in Studio Art or the equivalent*.
- Two “Problems in [(Discipline):(Title)]” courses in Studio Art or the equivalent* (These courses may be repeated for credit only one time and with prior consent of the instructor).
- Two courses in Art History, one of which must be in 19th- and/or 20th-century art, the other can either be in an earlier field or it can be ‘Approaches to Western Art. ’ Students may also take a course in Art History, and one pre-approved course in other related histories or theories from another department with approval from their advisor.
- One Junior Seminar course to be taken during the third year
- Senior Studio and Thesis seminar, a year-long course, involving both fall and spring semesters, counts as four courses to be taken in your senior year.
- ***Equivalent production/performance courses in departments such as Cinema Studies, TIMARA, Dance, Theater, Creative Writing, and African American Studies may be counted towards Studio majors and minors. Please consult with advisors and department chair regarding specific courses that may be counted toward a major in Studio Art.
*Students must earn minimum grades of C- or P for all courses that apply toward the major.
Minor in Studio Art
Students with 5 or more full courses or the equivalent in Studio Art may graduate with a minor in Studio Art entered on their transcripts. These Studio Art courses must be taken in at least two fields with two instructors. No credit may be transferred to the minor in Studio Art.
Note: Students are responsible for notifying the Office of the Registrar if they wish to have the minor either in Art History or Studio Art entered on their transcripts.
Major in Visual Art
This major is offered within the Studio Division of the Art Department. It allows individual students greater flexibility for pursuing an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the visual arts. Concentrations in this major permit students to study art within a particular social or historical context: urban studies, environmental studies, critical theory, museum studies, or art conservation. In addition this major can serve students wishing to pursue projects in the creative arts that may incorporate creative writing, theater, dance, music, performance art, or architectural design. The major may also be designed to accommodate students who wish to study more wide-ranging topics such as environmental aspects of art and/or architecture, art in the context of another discipline such as psychology, sociology, philosophy, critical or cultural studies, art and the law, arts management, multi-media work in computer science, music, or geology.
REQUIREMENTS OF THE VISUAL ART MAJOR
The Visual Arts major consists of 12 full courses or the equivalent. Students should be aware that 3 of the required 12 courses make up the Concentration for the Visual Arts Major and are taken outside of the Art Department. Additionally, students are required to take at least one course in Media (Integrated Media or Photography) and one in Traditional Media (Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Printmaking). Students should therefore consult with an advisor in the appropriate department or program offering the coursework for this concentration. Students interested in this major must consult with members of the Studio Art division in the Art Department for further information.
A Visual Arts major must be grounded in Studio Art coursework or the equivalent. Eight courses must be within the Studio division of the Art Department or the equivalent, with a course in Art History. Of those 12 courses, students are required to take the following:
a. Two “Visual Concepts and Process: [Discipline]” Studio Art courses or the equivalent
b. One ”Problems in [(Discipline):(Title)]” courses in Studio Art or the equivalent.
c. One course in 19th-and/or 20th-century Art History. It is recommended that students interested in majoring in Visual Art take the 19th and 20th century course in Art History as early in their program as they can.
d. One Junior Seminar course to be taken during the third year.
e. Senior Studio and Thesis seminar ( a year-long course, involving both fall and spring semesters,counts as four courses to be taken in your senior year).
f. Three courses in the area of concentration outside the Art Department.
* Students must earn minimum grades of C- or P for all courses that apply toward the major.
A grade of 5 on the AP exam in Art History may be transferred as one full course to the Oberlin transcript. However, the department offers no major credit, and no exemption from major requirements, for AP work in Art History. The Department offers no credit and no exemption for AP work in Studio Art.
Transfer of Credit/Major Credit for Off-Campus Study
The Art Department’s preliminary approval must be obtained before beginning work away from Oberlin if this work is to be counted as credit for the major. Students must receive tentative prior approval from the Chairperson of the Art Department before leaving campus. On return, students must supply both an official transcript and evidence of the nature of the work done. Such requests, as well as those of transfer students, will be handled on an individual basis. The department is not obliged to give credit for work that fails to fit the general patterns of the Oberlin curriculum or that fails to come up to Oberlin’s standards, no matter how valuable a student feels the experience has been, or how much time and effort has been expended.
Art History: No more than 3 full courses or the equivalent may be transferred to an Art History major, unless the courses were taken in an Oberlin-affiliated program. Students should submit transcripts, syllabi, class notes, term papers, and examinations in order to obtain final approval for credit.
Studio Art: No more than 3 full courses or the equivalent may be transferred to a Studio Art major. Students should submit transcripts and Syllabi to their advisors to obtain major credit for work completed at other accredited institutions.
Visual Arts: No more than 3 full courses or the equivalent of studio art may transfer towards this major.
Admission to the Honors Program is at the discretion of the department. There are two paths to honors in the Art Department, dependent on one’s major, Art History, Studio Art. The Visual Art major is a component of the Studio Art Program.
Application for Honors occurs during Spring semester of Junior year. We encourage students who are interested in pursuing Honors to discuss the details of the program and potential topics with any member of the Art History faculty. Faculty members are likewise urged to encourage qualified students to consider applying for Honors.
Students seeking admission to the Honors Program in Art History must meet the following criteria:
1) A minimum overall GPA of 3.25. In exceptional cases, students may petition to waive this requirement.
2) A minimum GPA of 3.5 in Art History courses taken at Oberlin (by beginning of Spring semester of Junior year).
3) Completion of Arts 299: Methods.
4) At least two 300- and one 400-level Art History courses completed at Oberlin by the end of the Junior year.
5) Two of the three courses listed in 4) above must have been in different areas of Art History.
6) Completion of the Art History major’s language requirement.
7) Writing Proficiency Qualification.
Students who meet the above qualifications should identify a faculty member who is willing to advise a year-long project (the “Honors Advisor”). Together they will devise a plan of study, and the student submits a 5-page prospectus and a preliminary bibliography to the general Honors Supervisor (a designated faculty member) two Fridays prior to Spring Break.
After the prospectus and bibliography are submitted, the Honors Supervisor distributes them to the Art History faculty.
NOTE: Students who are away from campus in the second semester will submit a prospectus and bibliography no later than the Monday (one week) before the first day of classes.
Honors in Studio Art takes place within the capstone course for all Studio Art majors. This course, Senior Studio and Thesis, is a year-long, team taught course. Each student will receive a private studio. At the end of the fall semester faculty will invite students to do Honors who they feel are ready to handle the additional work. All students who are enrolled in Senior Studio and Thesis will continue in the course for the entire year. Honors, while not guaranteed, is conferred at the end of the spring as a result of outstanding work in this course.
GLCA Arts Program in New York
The New York Arts Program is an accredited and GLCA*approved program for undergraduates and post-baccalaureates who have demonstrated ability in the arts, creative industries and culture and who wish to pursue their education while exploring professional career options. The semester long program is an immersive experience designed to advance students’ creative and critical skills, and introduce them to diverse ecology of concepts and practices. Successful completion earns 15 hours of credit towards graduation; these credits cannot count as major credit but are applied to general credit.
The purpose of winter term is to enable students to pursue academic interests outside of Oberlin’s regular course offerings. During the month of January, students complete individual or group projects of their choice, either on or off campus. Projects may be proposed by faculty, students, and occasionally by members of the administrative and professional staff and alumni.
Projects in the arts may include off-campus projects such as gallery or museum internships or studio assistantships with a specific artist or artist collaborative. On-campus study may take the form of a supervised individual or group projects. Projects in the arts are typically sponsored by members of the Art Department.
Preparation for Further Professional Study
Students interested in preparing for graduate studies in Studio Art, Museum Studies, and Art Conservation should consider the following programs of study:
- Studio Art. Students interested in preparing for graduate studies in Studio Art, Museum Studies, and Art Conservation should consider the following programs of study. It is suggested that studio art majors who wish to prepare for graduate study leading to the MFA degree take as many studio courses as possible.
Museum Studies. Students wishing to pursue a museum career are advised to consult with the curatorial staff of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at their earliest convenience. There are both research and teaching opportunities as curatorial interns and docents available to interested and qualified students. Either an Art History or a Visual Arts major would provide suitable pre-graduate school preparation for this field. Knowledge of a relevant foreign language (French, German, Chinese, Japanese) is essential for museum curatorial work and helpful preparation for other areas of the museum profession, such as administration or education.
- Conservation of Art. It is suggested that students who wish to prepare for graduate study in Art Conservation fulfill the requirements for the BA with a major in either Art History, Visual Arts, or Studio Art. Most schools of conservation require between 18 to 21 hours of art history, between 8 and 15 hours of studio, and a portfolio. Additionally, most schools require: a reading knowledge of German, French or Italian, two classes in organic chemistry with labs, and an additional one or two science courses with labs. The following may also be useful: Physical Chemistry 309; GEOL 201 Mineralogy, PHYS 103-104 or PHYS 110, 111. For further information, consult with Mr. Inglis.
- Classical Archeology. Students interested in classical archeology as a profession should note the availability of a concentration in classical archeology within the Archeological Studies Major. For further information, see the separate listing under Archeological Studies above, or consult Ms. Kane in the Art Department.
Art History - Introductory Courses for a General Audience
Art History - 100-Level Courses
Art History - 200-Level Courses
Art History - 300-Level Lecture Courses
Courses require one 200-level course or an equivalent as a prerequisite.
- ARTS 318 - Preserving Culture and Heritage: Past, Present, and Future
- ARTS 319 - Cultural Heritage at Risk in Libya: a Working Archaeologist’s Perspective
- ARTS 326 - Synagogues, Churches, Mosques
- ARTS 334 - Africa, Europe, and the Art of Colonization
- ARTS 353 - Paintings, Portraits, and Prints: Arabic and Persian Book Arts
- ARTS 355 - Pleasure and Design in Confinement: Japanese Prints in and after Edo
- ARTS 356 - Monks, Miracles, and Magic: Buddhist Art in East Asia
- ARTS 357 - Looking for Africa in Brazil
- ARTS 358 - Sacred Arts of Vodou and Santeria
- ARTS 371 - Sonic Art History: Listening to Modern & Postwar Art
- ARTS 376 - Architecture, Trade, and Power in Early Modern Islamic Empires
- ARTS 390 - Bell Labs to Blockchain: Art & Technology, 1925-Present
Art History - 400 Level Seminars
Art History - 400 Level Advanced
The aim of all studio courses is to enhance students’ awareness of, and sensitivity to, the visual arts through engaging in intellectual and technical processes by which a work
s of art comes into being. Students learn to perceive the world in visual terms and to conceptualize their perceptions through their work. They also become familiar with selected techniques of artmaking and with examples of those techniques by significant artists through the study of the history of art both past and present.
Students planning to complete their studies with the Bachelor’s degree in art should recognize that the fine arts curriculum at Oberlin is designed primarily as an integral part of the liberal arts program of the College, and not as specialized technical training. Studying art at Oberlin does provide a solid foundation for students who wish to proceed into formal professional training at the graduate level or to continue their development as artists on their own. Many Studio Art majors go on to the best graduates schools in the country.
It is necessary for each student to purchase expendable supplies as required for each course and/or to pay a fee for expendable materials supplied by the department. Students should realize that studio art practices can often be quite expensive. The purchase of textbooks is sometimes required for studio courses.
Students absent from the first studio session in any course will be dropped from the enrollment list.
Introductory Gateway Courses for the Studio Art Major
Visual Concepts and Process Courses
Read the following course descriptions carefully. Visual Concepts and Processes courses are designed to offer students an introduction to art making in the 21st century through a diverse range of concepts, techniques. The focus of each course is described in the course title suffix, but will not be limited to conventional assumptions about these disciplines. Courses may be repeated for credit if taken with a different instructor and with the consent of the advisor.
“Problems in: (Discipline/Title)” Courses
Material covered in Problems In: courses are at the intermediate level and correspond with the discipline specified in the course title. Courses in this sequence may be elected more than once. Enrollment is by consent of the instructor
Advanced Individual Projects
Advanced Individual Projects must be taken by the end of junior year, and is designed as a predecessor to Senior Studio and Thesis. The goal of this course is for students to delve into their specific conceptual and technical interests, while developing individual creative practices. This interdisciplinary seminar is taught by various members of the Studio Art faculty, and is offered once each semester.
Senior Studio and Thesis
Senior Studio and Thesis is a team taught course and required of all students majoring in Studio and Visual Art. This is a year-long course spanning fall and spring semesters that counts as four courses to be taken in your senior year. Each student will receive a private studio. At the end of the fall semester students who’ve excelled will be invited to pursue Honors for the remainder of the course. Honors is conferred at the end of the spring as a result of outstanding work.