Support Salem!
Now at Salem Watch Salem College on YouTube Subscribe to Salem College on Pinterest

Art History

One of the defining characteristics of Salem's Art Department is closeness. Students and professors alike have an uncommon passion for the study and practice of art and design-in all forms-and therefore have established a tightly knit community of friends and learners.

One of the defining characteristics of Salem's Art Department is closeness. Students and professors alike have an uncommon passion for the study and practice of art and design-in all forms-and therefore have established a tightly knit community of friends and learners. While it is one of Salem's larger departments, art classes rarely exceed 30 students, with most upper-level classes numbering 5 to 10 students

Your Programs

Art History 4-Year Plan
You may choose from among three majors within the Art Department:

Studio Art and Art History are also available as minors.

Art Education - New in the fall of 2010 is a licensure program in Art Education combining your major in art with courses through Salem's education department. 

Your Commitment

It goes without saying that you are creative and have a passion for the arts! You are also likely to be motivated, creative, independent and bring a solid work-ethic to the classroom. You will be encouraged to share your ideas and opinions as well as to seek out inventive ways of learning. You will take part in internships and special projects as well as study abroad in order to broaden your artistic horizons. While at Salem you will complete a require research project. You may also want to join one of two student arts organizations on campus, the American Society of Interior Design (ASID) or April Arts.

Your Faculty

Your professors in the art department are professionally active scholars whose talents and scholarly achievements are matched only by their dedication to classroom and studio teaching. In addition to their activities at Salem, our professors also lecture regularly to audiences outside the Salem community, have active exhibition schedules and coordinate the activities of the College Gallery.

Your Results

Thanks to the comprehensive, interdisciplinary nature of the department, you will graduate with a wide range of professional opportunities, such as graduate school or careers. Recent Salem graduates who majored in art went on to East Carolina University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Pratt Institute/School of Art and Design; Rhode Island School of Design and Sothey's Institute of Art, London. Recent art majors are working as a design consultant at Ethan Allen Inc; an historical programs assistant at the Maymont Foundation; an interior designer with the Group 3 firm; curator of education at Columbia Museum of Art; and a member of the Peace Corps in Zambia.

Art History Major (B.A.)

The course offerings in the art department are designed to provide a broad background for both the major and non-major. A student may major or minor in art history.

Art History Minor

The minor in art history requires the completion of six courses: 

Visual Arts Entrepreneurship Minor

The minor in Visual Arts Entrepreneurship is intended for students pursuing a B.A. in art history or studio art. See the Arts Management section of the catalog for details. A student may not minor in both Arts Entrepreneurship and Arts Management nor may she major in Arts Management and minor in Visual Arts Entrepreneurship.

The course offerings in the art department are designed to provide a broad background for both the major and non-major. A student may major or minor in art history.

Art History Courses (ARTH)

121. Survey of Western Art I  One course

Introduction to the history and interpretation of architecture, sculpture and painting in the West from prehistoric times to the present. Fall.

122. Survey of Western Art II  One course

Continued introduction to the history and interpretation of architecture, sculpture and painting in the West from prehistoric times to the present. Fall and Spring.

140. Survey of the Art of Japan        One course

Japanese art from the beginning of its civilization through the 18th century, including sculpture, painting and printmaking. Fall, alternate years.

150. Survey of the Art of China         One course

Chinese art from prehistoric through the Ching Dynasty including sculpture, painting, ceramics and bronzes. Fall.

160. The Art of Japanese Manga and Anime: Origins and Evolution         One course

In this course, we will explore Japan’s “coolest” export: global manga and anime. Students will read, view, and analyze classic and contemporary manga and anime while developing a critical historical consciousness of Japanese visual culture.

180. Women and Art         One course

This course explores ways in which women have been portrayed in art, and also provides an introduction to women artists from the ancient world to modern times. Feminist art history/feminist discourse is introduced as a way of analyzing representations of women in art, with focus on Renaissance and Baroque art, and their underlying – too often negative –assumptions. Models for this work will be provided by such classic feminist art historians as Nochlin, Munro, Garrard, Broude and Russell. The second half of the course will focus on women as producers of art and offers an empowering alternative to the too frequent neglect of women artists in modern art history.

200. Independent Study in Art History One-quarter to one course

Independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Open to students with a 3.0 cumulative average and permission of the chair of the department. Independent study may take the form of readings, research, conference, project and/or field experience. Independent study may be taken for a total of two courses, the maximum in any one term being one course credit. Offered on demand.

220. Special Topics in Art History One course

This course provides the student with the opportunity to explore aesthetic and technical issues presented by faculty or visiting instructors.

225. Greek Art One course

Sculpture, architecture and painting in the Greek world from the late geometric to the end of the Hellenistic period. Consideration will also be taken of the roots of Greek art in other cultures of the prehistoric Aegean. Emphasis will be placed on monumental art related to Greek cultic practices; minor arts and architecture will be considered in order to gain a broad understanding of the context of artistic development. Readings from ancient literature will be assigned to provide a historical and cultural background. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or ARTH 122. Spring, every third year. 

231. Ancient Art  One course

Architecture, city planning, sculpture, painting and related arts from the beginning of civilization in the Near East until the fall of the Roman Empire. Emphasis will be placed on the relationship of visual arts to other aspects of intellectual history. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or ARTH 122. Spring, every third year.

232. Medieval Art   One course

Architecture, sculpture and painting from the beginning of the Christian era to the Renaissance. Emphasis upon the relationship between the visual arts and other aspects of intellectual history. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or ARTH 122. Spring, every third year.

240. Northern Renaissance  One course

Art of Northern Europe from ca. 1350 to ca. 1560. The paradoxical emphasis on naturalistic observation and Christian mysticism of the period will be special themes of discussion. The development of new art forms, such as oil painting and printmaking, and the appearance of new genres, such as portraiture, landscape and still life, will also be considered. Focus will be made on the work of van Eyck, Bosch, Dürer and Bruegel. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or ARTH 122. Fall, alternate years.

243. Early Modern Art One course 

Early movements in modern art: Impressionism, Cubism, Symbolism, Dada and Expressionism. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or 122. Fall, alternate years. 

244. Late Modern Art                 One course 

Art movements from the 1930s to the present, including: abstract expressionism, minimal art, pop, post-painterly, photo realism and post modernism. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or 122. Spring. 

245. Renaissance Painting 1300-1500      One course 

The development of form and content in painting from the rebirth of humanism to the Reformation. Accent on Giotto, Ghiberti, Donatello, Masaccio, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Titian. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or 122. 

246. European Painting and Sculpture 1550-1750  One course

Baroque and Rococo art in Spain, Italy, France, Holland and Flanders, including works by Bernini, Velazquez, Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or 122. Fall, alternate years.

247. European Painting and Sculpture 1750-1850 One course

Art in Europe with analysis of various movements: neoclassicism, romanticism and realism, including works by David, Ingres, Turner and Delacroix. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or 122. Fall, alternate years.

263. American Art One course 

The history and interpretation of architecture, sculpture and painting in the United States from colonial times to the present. Prerequisite: ARTH 121 or 122. Spring, alternate years. 

270. Internship in Art History One-half to one course

An opportunity to use the knowledge and skills the student has learned. 

290. Honors Independent Study in Art History One course

Advanced independent study under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Normally open to juniors and seniors with a 3.5 average in art. Subject to the approval of the department chair. Honors work may be taken for a maximum of two courses.

300. Methods of Art History  One-half course

A course required of all art history majors, to be taken in the spring of the senior year. Material covered is intended to acquaint the student with the literature and “methods” of art historical research and thought. To be taught in a weekly two-hour seminar, topics of discussion will include: aesthetics, materials and techniques, conservation, the role of the museum, style and chronology, connoisseurship, iconography, art and social history, art and psychology and alternate art histories. Spring.

390. Senior Seminar in Art History One-half course

Senior thesis work in area of concentration. Required of all art history majors along with an additional course, ARTH 300. Methods, for one-half credit.

  • Allan Polasek Museum/Sculpture Garden 
  • Reynolda House Museum of American Art 
  • Summers House Restoration Project
  • Edwards-Pitman Environmental Graphic Design Assistant
  • Art Zulu, Inc Interior Design Intern
  • Carr and Carr Builders Museum Research
  • Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art Photography Studio
  • Black Horse Studio Designer/Project Manager
  • Keiger Printing Architectural Apprentice
  • CDA Design Firm Magazine Production
  • Yadkin Valley Living Magazine The Munson Gallery Interior Design Intern
  • Hartman Design Group Gallery Intern
  • Diggs Gallery Assistant Art Consultant
  • Conseil en Art Independent, Paris, France
  • Art Therapy, Arts for Life

Students interested in majoring in Studio Art, Art History or Interior Design can apply for the Dr. John Preston Davis Scholarship. The Davis Art Scholarship is worth full tuition and is renewable annually with a 3.0 college GPA. Interested candidates must submit a 300 word essay on "Why I want to study Studio Art, Art History or Interior Design" and two letters of recommendation (if majoring in Studio Art or Interior Design, one of these letters should be from an art teacher). Finalists will be invited to interview at Scholarship Weekend. Studio Art and Interior Design candidates should bring a portfolio at the time of the interview.