Art History - University of Houston
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Rex Koontz
Professor
Program Coordinator
E-mail: rkoontz@uh.edu
Office: Fine Arts, 104E

Art history is the study of creative expression by humans from our beginnings in Africa to the present day. Focused on the visual world, Art History is an inherently interdisciplinary field that also draws on the rich intellectual traditions of anthropology, literature, philosophy, psychology, and history.

The University of Houston Art History program engages the city’s art institutions together with our stellar faculty to create an innovative curriculum for students who want to succeed in the international art world. We provide a firm grounding in the discipline of Art History within a Tier-1, urban research university while providing deeply meaningful experiences in the collections of the city's major arts institutions. We believe in broadening access to sustainable careers in the arts by welcoming emerging scholars with a wide range of backgrounds into our major and minor programs.

Bachelor of Arts In Art History

Students majoring in Art History take a total of 12 courses (36 hours) in Art History and 3 courses (9 hours) outside of Art History that complement their studies in the field. Basic survey courses and a seminar on art historical theory and method are required for all majors, as is a range of courses in each of four broad periods and cultures. Special courses taught by visiting faculty and museum curators and conservators further enrich regular course offerings. Students can also develop proposals for independent research, Honors Theses, or projects related to internships, for which they can receive academic credit with faculty approval.

The city of Houston is a dynamic environment in which to study art and art history. Our diverse, world-class arts institutions include the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Menil Collection, Contemporary Arts Museum, Blaffer Art Museum, Center for Contemporary Craft, Lawndale Art Center, DiverseWorks, Project Row Houses, Art League Houston, Houston Center for Photography, FotoFest, Printing Museum, and Asia Society, as well as many alternative art spaces and galleries that focus on temporary exhibitions of historical and contemporary art. Art History students are supported to engage with these cultural institutions over the course of their studies through field trips, class assignments, and internships.

Guest Scholars

Each year, the Art History Program hosts a distinguished scholar as part of the greater School of Art speaker series. In addition to giving a public lecture, this guest engages students in intimate seminars and workshops, where we have the opportunity to interact closely with their research and pedagogy. We host numerous other speakers throughout the academic year in connection with our curriculum, including art historians, curators, critics, and artists. In particular, we regularly engage students with museum curators and conservators from the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Menil Collection. 

Recent speakers include: Katie Anania, Claire Bishop, Charlene Villaseñor Black, Cornelia Butler, Douglas Crimp, Thomas Crow, Jamal Cyrus, Moyra Davey, Leah Dickerman, Natalie Dupêcher, Bradford Epley, Allan DeSouza, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Darby English, Harry Gamboa Jr., Julia Guernsey, Suzanne Hudson, Caroline A. Jones, Amelia Jones, David Joselit, Bryan Just, Lewis Kachur, Sergio Prego, Sondra Perry, Christopher Y. Lew, Mia Locks, Anna Lovatt, Megan Metcalf, Kari Dodson, Asa Mittman, Gail Levin, James Nisbet, Peggy Phelan, Laura Phipps, Mari Carmen Ramírez, Vincent Ramos, Matthew Ritchie, Judith Rodenbeck, Steve Rowell, Katy Siegel, Jacob Stewart-Halevy, Gloria Sutton, Alvia Wardlaw, Michelle White.

Faculty

Internships and Independent Studies

Art history majors with an art history GPA of 3.0 or higher are eligible for internship placements. Undergraduate interns learn directly about the operation of non-profit arts institutions by working under approved mentors as curatorial and research assistants and in educational programming and preparations departments. Our undergraduates have interned at institutions including the Blaffer Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Menil Collection, Lawndale Art Center, DiverseWorks, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Holocaust Museum, Printing Museum, and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Specific information regarding eligibility, requirements and opportunities is available from faculty or from the undergraduate advisor. Students may develop proposals for academic credit connected with an internship in consultation with art history faculty.

Facilities

Careers

Through wide-ranging coursework options, field trips and learning abroad excursions, object-based learning in local museums and in our Object Laboratory, and internship opportunities at diverse institutions throughout the Houston area, the Art History program enables students to pursue an exciting variety of career options. An undergraduate major or minor in Art History develops advanced skills in research, writing, critical thinking, and analysis of visual and cultural information that can provide the basis for a wide variety of professional pathways. The two main career trajectories for those who wish to continue working directly in the arts are: curatorial, education, and administrative positions in museums and galleries; or teaching, research, or administrative positions in schools, colleges, and universities. Such careers usually require graduate study in Art History at the MA or PhD level.

Many of our undergraduate Art History students have gone on to complete graduate study in Law, Anthropology, Architecture, Business, Library Science, Arts Leadership, and Creative Writing, among other fields. Our alumni have built successful careers locally, regionally, and nationally, using their Art History degrees to gain employment in museums, galleries, libraries, schools, universities, non-profits, and the private sector.
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