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Faculty/Staff Stories

John Hutton

Faculty/Staff Stories

"Salem is a wonderful place--small and beautiful is good! I've spent my entire teaching career here, now 33 years on campus. Small classes and majors let you get to know your students very well! And I'm fascinated by the long and interesting history of the place, its lovely old buildings."

John Hutton, PhD – Professor of Art History

I came to Salem 33 years ago, in 1990, and never left. I love Salem’s long history, partly because I went to two other very old schools, Princeton and Harvard. I love Salem’s small size and the fact that I can quickly know all my students’ names in a few days, even in my largest classes.

I teach Art History, a very interesting and useful field. People in all ages and in all parts of the world have made art—it’s part of the human condition—and so if people everywhere have always made and found it fascinating—why not you, too? Art History classes teach students how to understand and appreciate many, many wonderful, beautiful, and famous things. It can enrich your life and broaden your horizons.

Art History is also a very useful subject for the way it teaches students how to look carefully and describe precisely what they see—skills useful in many fields, including health careers. We do this with paintings, sculpture, buildings. Doctors do this with symptoms, tissue samples, and a myriad of other visual phenomena! Art History also builds empathy, a quality valuable for health careers and any others that deal with people. Intellectual empathy—by seeking to understand the art ideas, styles and meanings of cultures unlike our own. Emotional empathy—by seeking to recognize and connect with the emotions we see so often expressed by the characters—people like ourselves— in storytelling art.

In addition to being an art historian, I am a book illustrator who specializes in historical subjects. I wrote and illustrated a series of five books about Salem history starring Sister Maus. I have also worked for Thornwillow, a small publisher in New York, Cartier North America and the White House Historical Association, for which I’ve illustrated ten children’s books.

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