Reviewing Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth and Writing Art History
Dr. Clark’s courses teach students to write art history and so enter into the discipline’s discourse.
In the fall 2016 semester, students in Nineteenth-Century Art and Visual Culture (fall 2016), with support from the Lisska Center for Scholarly Engagement, the Knowlton Center for Career Exploration, and the Department of Art History and Visual Culture, toured the Cincinnati Art Museum exhibition Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth. As part of that tour, Cincinnati curator Julie Aronson explained behind-the-scenes processes involved in the coordination of that exhibition.
Students used this tour to write an extended review of Van Gogh: Into the Undergrowth. Touring this exhibition and writing these reviews introduced students to both places and practices critical to reaching people outside the discipline of art history. More, this experience permitted students to interact with works of art—a key experience for learning how to put art history into practice. While many introductory-level art history courses teach students to read a broad spectrum of texts—artist correspondence and manifestos, art criticism, fiction literature and film adaptations, canonical and cutting-edge studies in the field, and relevant studies in related disciplines—Dr. Clark’s courses teach students to write art history and so enter into the discipline’s discourse. By closely studying these primary and secondary sources together with art-objects, students in Nineteenth-Century Art and Visual Culture have come to understand their research as part of a n established but still evolving dialogue.
Three students (Sarah Mennell, Isabel Mularoni, and Yen Anh Nguyen) will have their exhibition reviews published in the June 2017 issues of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide (Dr. Clark will write a short prologue explaining the learning outcomes for this activity). Through this exercise, Dr. Clark’s students have learned how to dissect the multiple ways in which museum exhibitions work to tell narratives to non-specialist publics: via works of art, object labels and exhibition texts, and catalogue essays and online materials. In this way, students in Nineteenth-Century Art and Visual Culture have worked throughout the semester to think critically about the formulation and perpetuation of narratives in the history of art and to develop her/his own perspective and voice in the discipline.