Teaching and Learning Art History in a (Primarily) Studio Department: Experiences and Expectations
As a historian of visual culture, Associate Professor Keri Cronin shares with her students a deep interest in exploring the ways in which images shape and challenge dominant ideas in our society.
She knows it’s vital for fine arts students, particularly in today’s image-saturated culture, to gain an ability to think critically about images and to help them develop a further foundation from which to conceptualize how their artwork can function in the world.
Yet, as a teacher of History of Art & Visual Culture (HAVC) courses, she readily takes on the challenge of breaking through a resistance that comes with the territory of working within fine arts departments built primarily around studio arts courses.
“In my own experience of teaching HAVC courses I have repeatedly experienced initial resistance to my ‘required’ classes as they are perceived to take students away from time they could be spending in their studios,” she says. “I work hard to overcome this sense of resistance through pedagogical approaches that, whenever possible, move away from traditional and expected forms of teaching HAVC.”
As a recipient of a 2019 Chancellor’s Chair for Teaching Excellence, Keri will pursue a three-year project, “Teaching and Learning Art History in a (Primarily) Studio Department: Experiences and Expectations.”
Her research goal is to learn more about how studio students at Brock are thinking about and learning from HAVC courses. At the same time, Keri is focused on the experiences of faculty members who teach HAVC classes.
She will hold focus groups with current Brock Visual Arts students and she will interview colleagues across Canada in pursuing answers to key questions such as: How can these findings help us rethink and shape course content and curriculum? How can we support HAVC instructors who are tasked with delivering these courses in an environment in which this type of inquiry does not tend to be as privileged as the creative practices that take place in the studio environments?
Keri intends to publish her findings and recommendations in Art History Pedagogy and Practice, an open access journal.
Carol Merriam, Dean, Faculty of Humanities, lauds Keri for her commitment to students and colleagues.
“Dr. Cronin has always demonstrated herself to be a thoughtful and ethical instructor, whose teaching is informed by sophisticated theory and an advanced social conscience. The study has the potential for great impact on the learning environment of creative arts students and it will also have benefits for art history and visual culture instructors.”