Episode Notes | Transcript | AskTheGuest

 Hi Fives (5 Highlights)   3-Minute Listen

We have Alexa Sand, Professor of Art History at Utah State University on our podcast. 

In this Podcast, Professor Sand tells us what Art History is, its Origins & Its Importance, areas of Art History, the skills needed to pursue Art History in College and the Career opportunities.

Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:

  1. What is Art History?
  2. Importance of Art History
  3. Areas of Art History
  4. Skills to Study Art History
  5. Career Opportunities

Episode Notes

Episode Title: About Majors: What is Art History? With Prof. Alexa Sand of Utah State University.

The goal of this series is to serve as a Primer for High Schoolers about a College Major, through our conversations with Faculty Experts in the various US Colleges and Universities.

We continue this series with Art History, with Prof. Alexa Sand of Utah State University.

In particular, we discuss the following with her:

  • What is Art History?
  • Areas of Art History
  • Research Topics
  • Skills Needed
  • Career Opportunities

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Introducing Prof. Alexa Sand [0:59]
  • Hi Fives - Podcast Highlights [1:55]
  • What is Art History? [4:30]
  • The Origins [5:23]
  • Why is Art History a Discipline? [8:46]
  • Importance of Art History [11:07]
  • Areas of Art History [13:34]
  • Art Across Geographies [16:38]
  • Research Topics  [20:18]
  • Skills Needed  [24:28]
  • Is Art History for You? [27:12]
  • Career Opportunities [29:43]
  • Prof. Sand’s Art History Journey [33:15]

Our Guest: Alexa Sand is a Professor of Art History and the Associate VP of Research at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. Prof. Sand graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Art History and Anthropology from Williams College. She received her Master’s and PhD degrees in Art History from the University of California Berkeley.

Memorable Quote: “And the other great thing about Art History is it is often a really complimentary major to other fields of study. So you're an Anthropology major, or you're a Cognitive Science major, or you're a Civil Engineering major, like art history really plugs into so many different fields, because it touches on so many realms of human experience.” Prof. Alexa Sand.

Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.

Suggestions for you: Primers on College Majors


Episode Transcript

Transcript of the episode’s audio.

<Start Snippet> Prof Alexa Sand  0:14  

Everybody, every culture everywhere make some form of visual representation. Right? Do they always use the same media? No. So, you know, oil painting is very important from the 16th century onwards in the European tradition. Oil Painting never really catches on in China, where ink and you know, color on different supports like paper and textile is the dominant mode of painting. That said, they're both forms of painting, right?

Venkat  0:59  [Introducing Prof. Alexa Sand, USU]

That is Alexa Sand, Professor of Art History at Utah State University.

Hello, I am your host, Venkat Raman.

Today’s episode is on Art History in our podcast series on “College Majors” to serve as a Primer for High Schoolers.

We are privileged to have Professor Alexa Sand with us on our podcast.

Venkat Raman  1:24

In this Podcast, Professor Sand tells us what Art History is, its Origins & Its Importance, areas of Art History, the skills needed to pursue Art History in College and the Career opportunities.

Venkat Raman  1:41

Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives,  Five Highlights from the podcast:

Alexa  1:55  [Highlights - Hi Fives]

[What is Art History?]

So Art History is a humanities discipline that focuses on the histories of how the visual arts have shaped and communicated human experience across all cultures.

[Importance of Art History]

This is a really powerful form of communication. And if we don't understand how it works, and we don't have a kind of critical sense of its ability to influence how we perceive the world, I think we're missing a pretty major piece of the puzzle.

[Areas of Art History]

it's a relatively young discipline, as I've mentioned. And it's also very porous, it's very open to other disciplinary methods. But basically, because it is a historical discipline, it's organized in a very similar way to other historical disciplines, sort of, by time, and by geographic or cultural regions..


[Skills to Study Art History]

We talked about whether somebody has a good eye or not. And basically, that just means the sort of attention span to be able to look at something long enough to really respond to it in a critical sort of thoughtful way.

[Career Opportunities]

Art History provides students with a really great skill set. They're fantastic writers, because writing is at the core of the discipline, they're really attentive to detail. So they use their eyes, right? To collect data, and then they have to translate. They translate that data into you know, prose, basically.

Venkat Raman  3:56

These were the Hi5s, brought to you by College Matters. Alma Matters.

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Venkat Raman  4:07

Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire Art History podcast with Prof. Sand.

So without further ado, here is Prof. Alexa Sand!


Venkat Raman  4:18  

So if you're ready, we can jump right in.

Alexa  4:20  


Venkat Raman  4:23  

Cool. So maybe the best place to start is a basic question. What is Art History?

Alexa  4:30  [What is Art History?]

So Art History is a humanities discipline that focuses on the histories of how the visual arts have shaped and communicated human experience across all cultures that have recorded histories. It also sometimes focuses on the analysis of pre historical societies, but that's really more than realm of Archaeology.

Venkat Raman  5:01  

How did this start, with, whereabouts? I mean, I mean Art History, like you said, it's been there from the start of humanity. When did it become a discipline? When it becomes something that people started studying?

Alexa  5:23  [The Origins]

So really great question and there are a couple of alternative answers to that. One would be to say that the very first art historian was a Roman writer by the name of Pliny, who in his opus magnum, sorry, magnum opus, work. The Natural History included information about different artistic traditions and developments from the Greek period up through his own times in the first century CE. However, most art historians don't really see a through line from what Pliny was doing to what we do today. In the 16th century, the Italian painter and student of Michelangelo, Giorgio Vasari wrote a very, very famous work called The Lives of the Artists, or The Lives of the Painters, depending on how you translate it. And it's, you know, a series of sort of biographical portraits of different artists and what they introduce to Italian art in the 15th and 16th century. Is that really Art History? Or is it more sort of a form of PR? That's the question. By the 18th century, though, we start to see the beginnings of what is recognizably sort of a, a scientific approach to Art History, and particularly around the turn of the 20th century. So around 1900, in Vienna, that's really where most art historians today sort of trace their intellectual traditions back to this sort of rigorous, you know, formally based that is, you know, based in sort of the actual forms of art, descriptive discipline that was interested in not just sort of attributing a painting to this painter or that painter, but understanding why artistic styles change why particular artists from particular places and times operate in certain ways and how people interact with works of visual art. So that really starts around the turn of the 20th century in the German speaking countries, particularly in Austria. And by the time you get to the period, just after World War Two, so the late 40s and the 50s, most English speaking universities, by that time had Art History as at least something they were offering, if not a department unto itself. And a lot of those people who were teaching Art History and American and British universities, were actually German scholars who had fled, you know, the national socialist regime, there's a strange predominance of people with Jewish background in, in Art History.

Venkat Raman  8:36  

Why did it start? I mean, what was what was the reason for this becoming a discipline?

Alexa  8:46  [Why is Art History a Discipline?]

Well, I think there are a couple of different reasons like if you were gonna take a sort of cynical view, you would say art is an investment and economic investment that people make. And so people want to understand what they're investing in. And certainly a lot of art historians, especially, even today, but especially at the start of the discipline, we're engaged in the art market in certain ways. For example, they serve to sort of validate, or invalidate the attribution of works to particular artists, we call that connoisseurship. So that was certainly one factor. Another factor is that, as the humanities disciplines were sort of taking shape and the 20th century, the late 19th century, there was a overall interest in understanding sort of why people make things that aren't purely functional. Like why and why have people done this basically, since there have been people you know, as we began to understand prehistoric cultures and discover these cave paintings and you know, the South of France Ansan and discover evidence even from, you know, pre homosapiens hominid ancestors that they were making sort of abstract representations, although that's arguable. I mean, we really see that this sort of symbolic activity of image making of, of making visual art is very closely related to things like language and music, and other forms of, of sort of symbolic communication. So the study of art is really part of this larger interest, you could include it under the same sort of umbrella as the study of the development of music and different cultures over time, or the study of the development of poetry or, you know, storytelling.

Venkat Raman  10:53  

So, so what's the importance in your mind of Art History? And why is it important for maybe humanity in general? Or is it for different pockets of humanity?

Alexa  11:07  [Importance of Art History]

Well, I think, you know, it's kind of fundamental to understanding how we communicate as human beings. I mean, we like to be, you know, we'd like to focus on language, verbal language as the sort of primary index of how a culture communicates. But if you leave out other forms of sensory communication, you leave quite a lot out, right? I mean, especially because the, the practice of using visual tools to communicate information allows us to communicate across time. So for example, I can go to a gothic cathedral that was built almost 1000 years ago. And I can still have a kind of sense of wonder and awe. So those people who built that Cathedral in, say, 1200, are communicating with me, you know, in, in the 21st century, all right, 800 years. But in any case, I mean, the point is, this is a really powerful form of communication. And if we don't understand how it works, and we don't have a kind of critical sense of its ability to influence how we perceive the world, I think we're missing a pretty major piece of the puzzle and, and that renders us very vulnerable to, you know, propaganda, or to other forms of persuasion. We live in a relentlessly visual, visual culture of communication today in the sort of global age of the internet. And I feel like Art History, and the critical tools that it gives us to deal with that barrage of a visual sort of persuasion is even more important now than it was 100 years ago, or 150 years ago, when it was really taking shape as a discipline.

Venkat Raman  13:26  

So how's the general study of Art History organized? What are the different branches or areas?

Alexa  13:34  [Areas of Art History]

Well, you know, it really is a discipline that is always evolving. It's a relatively young discipline, as I've mentioned, and it's also very porous, it's very open to other disciplinary methods. But basically, because it is a historical discipline, it's organized in a very similar way to other historical disciplines, sort of, by time and by geographic or cultural regions. So, you know, most people, if you're a college freshman say, and you've never taken an Art History course, which is probably more than 50% of college freshmen, I mean, there is AP Art History that you can take in high school. So some high school students have some exposure to it. I know I never heard of it before I went to college, and I was sort of dubious about it. When I got that was like, what you're gonna sit in a dark and look at pictures. That's not school. But, you know, basically, most students today will have their first exposure to it through what we call a survey course, which is a broad based course. And it may look at art all around the world through all of history, or it may focus only on European traditions or Western traditions, or it may focus only on Asian traditions. So those are kind of the three basic entry level introductions to Art History. And then as you advance In the field, you become more specific. So you might take, you know, a course, specifically on the history of Chinese art from, you know, the earliest times to, I don't know, 800. And then, you know, so basically, you'll take courses that, that start narrowing down the focus, you might also take courses that are sort of organized more along somatic or, or sort of practical lives. So examples of that would be a course, that focuses on the role of gender in artistic expression, in, you know, classical cultures around the globe. So you might look at my art, and, you know, Tang Dynasty art, and I don't know, Roman art or something, it might be a more comparative approach. Or you might take a class on, you know, museum studies, how to how to manage and curate artworks in a museum setting. So there are different kinds of specialist courses you might get to after you've taken that initial introductory course.

Venkat Raman  16:27  

Is Art across geographies, are there more similarities and differences? Or it's not, you know, it's not easy to categorize it that way?

Alexa  16:38  [Art Across Geographies]

I mean, there's definitely right now kind of a movement in Art History to take a more global view, to sort of break up the stranglehold of the Western tradition, you know, and the sort of models imposed on Art History by this very Eurocentric kind of point of view. That said, I mean, there are periods of history when there really are these the strong similarities across a variety of cultures? Because they're actually connected through, say, trade or warfare or whatever. But, you know, I guess, I guess it would, I would have to be more specific, like, everybody, every culture everywhere make some form of visual representation. Right? Do they always use the same media? No. So you know, oil painting is very important. From the 16th century onwards, in the European tradition, oil painting never really catches on in China, where it can, you know, color on different supports, like paper and textile is the dominant mode of painting. That said, they're both forms of painting, right? And I guess you could say, if you went to, you know, some cultures, in say, that are sort of non literate cultures may be that don't have paper that, you know, don't have a system of writing, they may be painting too, they may be painting on their bodies, they may be painting on, for example, though, these extremely beautiful barkcloth paintings from the oceanic cultures of the Pacific. And, I mean, it does seem like using pigment to mark a surface is a pretty universal trait, but that's as specific as it gets, like, there aren't. I mean, one of the things is like color, right? So does, let's say Western culture, you know, black often denotes mourning, and death. But does it denote mourning and death in Japanese art? No, in fact, quite the opposite. White indicates mourning and death. So I guess what I would say is like, color is one area that's really interesting, because some people like especially people who are into what's called neuro esthetics, which is like the application of neuroscience and cognitive science, to, to perceptual and perceptual psychology, to the perceptual issues around the art. They often want things to be kind of like hardwired in the human brain, like yellow makes us happy kind of thing. But it turns out that's not really the case. That culture really nurture has more to do with our perception of culture of color than culture. I'm sorry, then that nature so nurture, rather than nature determines how we perceive and respond to color For example.

Venkat Raman  20:04  

So what might be an interesting topic to talk about is, what are the kinds of research that go on, Or studies in Art History? What are sort of broad areas? And what's exciting today?

Alexa  20:18  [Research Topics]

Oh, gosh, there's so much I don't really know where to begin. I mean, one of the things about Art History is like the methods and the types of research that you do depend so much on the historical period and the culture you're studying. So for example, I'm a medieval art historian, right. And so I can't talk to people from the Middle Ages, obviously, how they felt when they entered a gothic cathedral, or, you know, what, this particular, you know, picture in an illuminated manuscripts meant to them personally. So I have to use the other methods, I have to use sort of, I would call it a method of triangulation, like looking at other kinds of evidence, written evidence, musical evidence, archaeological evidence, and I have to kind of piece all of those things together. So I spend a lot of time in the archive, that is to say, in library meeting medieval documents, and trying to figure out trying to piece together, what that lived experience was, like, why somebody might have made something or how somebody might have used something. So that is very different from say, my colleague, who is a specialist in the, in the feminist art from the 1960s 70s, and 80s, right. So she spends a lot of time talking to the actual artists and their audiences, the people who saw the shows or interacted with these works of art. So she does essentially a more kind of oral history approach. And she's able to use newspapers and television programs, and, you know, that kind of evidence that she's digging into, is so different methodologically, you know, it's just a completely different type of Art History. And then you might have somebody who operates more like an anthropologist, I mean, their work, maybe with a non literate culture and talking to the artists and the end, the people who use their works in the context of, you know, small society say. So there's, there's probably as many different kinds of research approaches to Art History, as there are subfields within the discipline, which is, you know, as numerous as stars in the sky, I would say that some of the big trends right now, in Art History, as I mentioned, is this idea of sort of global points of view, like, trying to, we call it decentering, the narrative like trying to view these things that we've always looked at from a different perspective, or within the context of a broader network. So that's something people are putting a lot of energy into presently. Right now I'm in the process of reviewing some books. And one thing I'm really noticing is that even just in my little corner of the Art History universe, the medieval corner of the Art History, and there's a much greater curiosity and sort of rigor in the scholarship on how this I mean, you know, these are issues that concern us today, how issues of race and cultural identity can be seen to be taking shape are being played out in works of pre modern art. And I think, you know, so the issues of our times, issues like global pandemic, race and ethnicity, or identity are always reflected in the humanistic disciplines the way they approached it.

Venkat Raman  24:17  

What what does a student need by way of competencies or characteristics or skills to study Art History?

Alexa  24:28  [Skills Needed]

Well, at the outset, I mean, coming into college, what you need is curiosity. We talked about whether somebody has a good eye or not. And basically, that just means the sort of attention span to be able to look at something long enough to really respond to it in a critical sort of thoughtful way. So we start by teaching people will basically to recognize what we call the formal elements of Art History, like color, light, texture, math, these are the formal constituents of any work of visual art. And we start developing the vocabulary to talk about those things. Because without that, you can not really, I mean, you can't really describe works of art, you can, you can't really give a good, compelling verbal description of the experience of looking at something. So we start there. And then we build on that with sort of different theoretical approaches different methods for putting works into context, and thinking about how they relate to both the producers and the audience's of those works of art. So it's a process of building sort of a vocabulary. And a set of procedures. I mean, I would, you know, Art History and math don't sound very similar. But in math, first you learn to count, then you learn to add and subtract, then you learn to divide and multiply. And so this sort of gradual building up of, of the understanding of the prime materials, I think that's where we begin. But the difference is because most people don't have those fundamentals in their high school education. That's where we have to start, as Art History professors teaching people, this material in college, it meshes very well with the art major. So as art majors are learning to talk about what they're doing on paper, or in the photography studio, or whatever, our practice sort of reflects that and gives them tools to talk about what they're better. So

Venkat Raman  27:01  

How would, how would somebody know that Art History is for them? Or is there, are there some things to look for?

Alexa  27:12  [Is Art History for You?]

Well, I would say, Art History is for everyone, because we live in such a visual culture. Is it the right major for you? I mean, the best way to find out is to take an intro course and to, you know, talk to maybe other majors, people who are majoring. I think, you know, for me, I went to college not knowing anything about Art History, not knowing it was even a thing you could study, I took the class, because some of my friends had signed up for it. Yeah, I sat there and went, Whoa, this is so cool, that I can sit and look at these images, these these buildings, people have built these sculptures, people have made these paintings from, you know, the past or from these other cultures. And I can start to kind of get inside the way it felt to live in that time and that place. I don't know, it just, it seemed almost like magic to me. So if you get that sort of sense of excitement from it, I think that it definitely is for you. One of the things that actually kind of cracks me up is I, of course evaluations, like, oh, this was a required Gen Ed course. And I didn't think I was gonna like it. And it sounded like baloney to me. And now, and now I'm going to major or at least minor in Art History, because there's something. I mean, museums are incredibly popular right around the world, people flocked to museums, why? What is it about looking at visual images and thinking about the world through those images? That's so compelling? I don't know. I think it's like a fundamental human impulse. And so it really taps into that. And the other great thing about Art History is it is often a really complementary major to other fields of study. So you're an anthropology major, or you're a cognitive science major, or you're a civil engineering major, like Art History really plugs into so many different fields because it touches on so many realms of human experience.

Venkat Raman  29:32  

What kind of career opportunities exist for Art History majors? I mean, let's say they are at the end of their bachelor's degree. What kind of things are available to them?

Alexa  29:43  [Career Opportunities]

Well, you know, this is obviously a question I get asked a lot. Because Art History is one of those majors that gets made fun of a lot, right, like Yeah, you know, as a degree to nowhere. But that is, first of all, it comes Please misperception of the major, like a lot of humanities majors, Art History provides students with a really great skill set. They're fantastic writers, because writing is at the core of the discipline, they're really attentive to detail. So they use their eyes, right? To collect data. And then they have to translate. They translate that data into, you know, prose, basically. So they are incredibly good at any field that requires attention to detail. There's a great program at, it's in New York with a woman who's a former Art History professor, but she trains policemen and medical students and various other people who have to use visual information to do this. And she trained by taking taking them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and forcing them to really like describe what they're seeing in paintings. I'm not saying that like Art History is the best undergraduate degree if you want to go into law enforcement, but certainly the skills of the art historian are really transferable skills. So like most humanities, majors, Art History majors, are really prepared to go into a whole lot of different areas of business, industry and public service. However, to be more specific, Art History prepares you, of course, very, very well for work in the arts disciplines. So gallerists, auction houses, museums, and arts education. You know, teaching humanities at the high school level. So there are a whole bunch of like, direct from the bachelor's degree in Art History, kind of career paths that are that are actually in the arts. But I would say the vast majority of Art History majors don't go to work in an art museum or a gallery, they go to work in an advertising agency, or an internet communications specialist, PR firm or a bank, you know, and my favorite little statistic, this is from a while back, but is that a lot of Art History majors who apply to law school, get it?

Venkat Raman  32:44  

Okay, so I thought we could switch gears a little bit and talk about your journey to Art History, you started talking about how you took that first course. And you were, I guess mesmerized and hooked. So tell us about that journey. And then I have a couple of follow ups I wanted to have,

Alexa  33:15  [Prof. Sand’s Art History Journey]

Sure. I mean, you know, I didn't know Art History was a thing at my public high school, which was a Science High School, it was not, you know, amongst the course offerings. But when I look back over my life, I realized that I've always been really attuned to visual expression. My grandmother was a painter. My mother is an artist. And as a kid, I had a lot of exposure to art, both making art and going and seeing art. I have this really, really vivid memory of being at the tut exhibition in the 1970s, the Egyptian Government sort of sent all of the archaeological materials from the tomb of King to 10, common around the world in a major fundraising effort, basically. And I remember that exhibition so so clearly, and just being fascinated, you know, as a child, by that material. And then I remember, you know, I got my first SLR camera, and I went out I mean, my dad drives me all over Seattle, I was about 12 or 13 years old, and I took pictures of all the public art in the city and made a big slideshow and then forced my parents friends to, you know, to look at this. So I think I've always been sort of tuned into that. When I got to college. I was a biology and anthropology double major. And I took this Art History course as I mentioned, just because my friends were all talking about it and I had this kind of like eureka moment. But I was always able to combine my other interests, my interest in science and my interest. Anthropology with my Art History learning, I went on a junior year study abroad. And it was while I was there that I began to really be drawn to this sort of earlier material before the Renaissance before the sort of explosion of art as a sort of cultural phenomenon that people acknowledged as separate from other things. So art was just integral to people's lives in the pre modern period, but they didn't talk about it necessarily as a separate category of things. They didn't have museums, art was just sort of woven into the culture. So that really fascinated me. And after I graduated from college with, I switched my double major, from biology to Art History, much to my parents, shock and horror, because they thought I was gonna go to medical school. You know, I spent some time thinking about working in advertising, actually, which was interesting. But thinking about what I wanted to do next, I realized I really wasn't done with my study of Art History. So I applied to graduate school to PhD programs. And I knew that I would probably study medieval Art History, because I had really just gotten hooked on that. The year I was in Italy. And so that's what I did. You know, I chose my graduate school based on, you know, who the faculty were, what they studied. And I specifically chose UC Berkeley, because there was a man there who studied, you know, sort of 12th and 13th century painting and books. And that's always been my other passion is books and libraries. And so I was able to kind of combine my bookish Ness with my Art History, interests. And I mean, I think, you know, going into graduate school, having already a pretty clear idea of my broad interests was great, I had the opportunity to work with a lot of really fantastic scholars as my mentors there. And take a lot of really great classes I took a whole course on called color and culture, from an art historian and a philosopher, that was amazing.

Alexa  37:34  

And, you know, the PhD is a slow journey in the humanities, the typical time to degree is, you know, six or seven years, so you have a lot of time to think and learn, I needed to learn Latin, I hadn't taken Latin in college. So as a medievalist, you really need to at least have Latin, probably also Greek, or if you're studying, you know, non western culture, you might, you might have Arabic and Persian, or you might have classical Chinese and Japanese, you know, it depends where you're working in the world. But yeah, so I had a lot of work to do on my languages. And then I just sort of drilled down on my interest in manuscripts. And that's how I became a manuscript illumination specialists, sort of by just spending a lot of time in libraries with illuminated manuscripts. And there's nothing like getting your hands on an 800 year old book and just sitting there for an afternoon turning its pages like that. That's actually how I convert students here at Utah State, I get them into the collections and handling objects, and that there's something so seductive about that.

Venkat Raman  38:48  

Amazing, fascinating. It's so interesting that there are a whole bunch of interest early on. And you probably didn't know it was a thing, like you said, till you actually experienced it. And then it just took off for you. You know, was there a point in time that you realize that you were good at it? Is that was Was that something that drove you? Or was it just the fascination with with the topic?

Alexa  39:23  

Oh, no. I mean, I definitely, you know, like most people, I don't want to waste my energy on something I'm terrible at right. I mentioned that I went to a science Magnet High School and things that I was really good at in science was memorizing stuff, right? Like, we had this crazy marine biology class where you had to memorize hundreds of scientific names of hundreds of different organisms, right? Yeah, yeah. And that was always really really good at that. I could look at a fossil or a specimen and like right away based on visual clues basically come up with its Latin name. Well, Art History, the way it was taught in the 80s, when I was a undergraduate was a lot of memorization. So a sort of classic Art History exam question would be, they show you a painting and they say this painting is by a painter you're familiar with from the class. And it's a copy of a painting by another painting painter that you're familiar with from the class, who was the painter of the first painting and who is the copyist and why do you know that this is something you've never seen before. And I was good at that kind of thing, because I was good at paying attention to visual detail. And I also had, you know, as my Midwestern parents put it, a good head for no one like I hold on to. Well, at that time, I think I held on to, you know, names and dates really well, I doubt. My middle aged brain is quite as good at that. So you know, those skills really stood me. Well, in Art History, I'm also I've always been a writer, like I kept a journal. As a kid, I like to write short stories and articles for the school newspaper, and that kind of thing. And so being a writer is also a skill that, you know, has made Art History, a very comfortable place for me. But not all my students, I have one student whose success story I like to tell, because this kid could not write his way out of a paper bag when he came to me. And, you know, he was so passionate about Art History, but he just couldn't write. And so I actually had him work for three years with a writing center tutor, to get him to a point where he could write his grad school applications. He is now one of the chief curators at the LDS church art archives in Salt Lake City. So he went and got a museum studies master's degree and, you know, really has had a fantastic career. So I think writing is so crucial.

Venkat Raman  42:10  

Okay, so the last thing I want to ask before I let you go here, is, you know, what do you find as the most exciting or fulfilling part of what you're doing, I mean, so that we're excited every morning to go?

Alexa  42:31  

Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, because there are definitely mornings where I'm more interested in sleeping in. But I mean, I guess I would say this, like, when I started, the sort of research process was the thrill, the challenges, the sort of frustrations, the ability to take something that nobody knew, or nobody had seen before, and bring that in front of the public, you know, that that was the thrill. Over time. I mean, I still really love to get into the library or to get the, you know, materials in my hands. But as time has gone by, as I've matured as a teacher, I think, now what really gets me up in the morning, and what gets me excited to come to work is the students and the way in which my own enthusiasm, my own sort of growing into the field, I can, I can pay that forward, and I can see the student getting excited about it getting fired up getting ready to contribute something that I can't even imagine. Yeah, like, I see these young scholars coming to the field for the first time, discovering something getting all excited about it. And that is what drives me now, as much as I still enjoy my research, and I enjoy talking about my research with other scholars. It's, it's like the ability to pass on my own excitement to other people, and to see where they're going to take it in the future.

Venkat Raman  44:13  

Awesome. So Alexa, this has been wonderful, exciting, exhilarating, and really enjoyed the journey, your journey and of course, Art History's journey. So I will let you go now. But I'm sure we'll talk more. Yeah, thank you again,

Alexa  44:31  

and thanks for paying attention to Art History because I think it doesn't, I think it gets short shrift. It gets made fun of you know, people don't really understand what it is. But it's really a discipline that can take you so many places and and that, you know, it's not a dead end major. It's really a major where because the the number of people who do it are it's relative. Hopefully small, it kind of makes you stand out from the crowd. And it shows that you're a person who's not afraid. You know, taking that risk to major in something a little bit obscure.

Venkat Raman  45:14  

That's why we're doing these podcasts and hopefully high schoolers out there, you know, inspired enough to take on this and pursue it. So, thank you again, Alexa. I will talk to you more in the future. But for right now, take care be safe.

Alexa  45:29  

Thanks. Thanks. Bye


Venkat  45:37

Hi again!

Hope you enjoyed our podcast on Art History with Professor Alexa Sand of USU.

Prof Sand  gives us a great overview of Art History, its importance to understanding history, cultures, people, career opportunities, and skills to pursue undergraduate study.

I hope this podcast inspires you to learn more about Art History as a major.

For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [podcast@almamatters.io] with the Subject: Art History.

Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.

Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].

To stay connected with us, Subscribe to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify or visit anchor.fm forward slash almamatters [anchor.fm/almamatters] to check us out.

Till we meet again, take care and be safe.

Thank you!

Summary Keywords

Podcast for High Schoolers, College Major, College Majors Podcast, US Colleges, Primer for High Schoolers, Art History, What is Art History, Utah State University, USU.

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