First Year Programs - Art and Art History Skip Navigation

Art and Art History (ARTS)

Chair: P. Kaimal

The Department of Art and Art History offers courses of study in the history, theory, and practice of the visual arts for the general liberal arts student as well as majors in either art history or studio art or minors in Architectural Studies or Museum Studies. Such study empowers students to appreciate creativity within our visually saturated world as well as to appreciate the ways in which works of art from the past inform human values and understanding around the globe. Majors in the department have gone on to successful careers both within and outside of the arts, some examples of which may be found at Success after Colgate.

Art History

The department offers more than 20 courses that trace the visual arts from antiquity to the present day. Class lectures and discussions are supplemented by visits to museums in the area and in New York City, as well as Colgate’s Clifford Gallery, Picker Art Gallery, and Longyear Museum. In this way, students increase their understanding of the visual arts as expressions of fundamental cultural values.

Studio Art

Courses in the practice of art provide instruction in drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video art, printmaking, and digital art. These courses are designed to explore creative visual modes of expression and to help the student gain familiarity with contemporary issues in the visual arts. Studio practice is augmented by a weekly lecture series, gallery exhibitions, film and video screenings, and guest artists.

Students interested in pursuing study with studio or art history are encouraged to begin work in the department as soon as possible. ARTS 100 (also offered as FSEM 160) is a prerequisite for all further studio work and should be taken in the first year and preferably in the first semester. In Art History, students are encouraged to enroll in a 100- or 200-level course in the first year and preferably in their first semester.

Students interested in receiving more information about the study of Visual Arts should contact the chair, Professor Kaimal (

Architectural Studies

Courses in Architectural Studies concentrate on the study of historical architecture in a wide range intellectual, social, and political contexts. Participation in the Architectural Studies minor concentration is supportive of both those students seeking to go on to Architecture School and students seeking to increase their understanding of the ways that human values and culture help shape our built environment. First year students interested in Architectural Studies are strongly encouraged to take ARTS 100 (also offered as FSEM 160) and ARTS 105, Introduction to Architecture, in their first year.

Museum Studies

The Department of Art & Art History now offers an interdisciplinary minor in Museum Studies. Courses are drawn from listings across campus, and may address a range of topics, including actual museums (their histories, architecture, operations, politics, ethics, etc.), collective memory, institutional critique, heritage, cultural property, or public history. Courses may also count toward the program if a substantial part of their pedagogy is object-based.

The minor program consists of 5 courses and a practicum or internship, which can be fulfilled at the Picker Art Gallery or Longyear Museum of Anthropology during the academic year or over the summer, or at any other suitable museum during the summer. Museum Studies faculty will help students in the program identify practicum/internship opportunities and sources of funding, if necessary.

For more information about the program, please contact a member of the Museum Studies Advisory Committee: Elizabeth Marlowe (Art History) (, Jordy Kerber (Anthropology) (, Xan Karn (History) (, or Anja Chavez (University Museums) (

Advanced Placement

Colgate course credit is awarded to students receiving a score of 4 or 5 in AP Art History and AP Studio Art. Students receiving a score of 4 or 5 in AP Art History receive credit for ARTS 102. Students receiving a score of 4 or 5 on both the AP studio art 2-D and 3-D design exams may receive credit for ARTS 100, subject to approval of the department based on a portfolio review. Portfolios must demonstrate competence in a variety of media and conceptual approaches. Please contact the department for more information regarding a portfolio review.


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ARTS 101, Caves to Cathedrals
Focuses on key artworks from ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Islamic world, and the European Middle Ages. It examines how visual languages developed to communicate ideological messages about various people’s relationships with their gods, their rulers, their subjects, their enemies, and each other. Also serves an introduction to the discipline of art history, training students for more advanced art history courses by teaching basic vocabulary and techniques of close looking and analytical thinking about visual material.

ARTS 110, Global Contemporary Art
Examines contemporary art's shifting relationship to changes taking place in the world at large: the pressures and challenges, as well as the possibilities that come with globalization and decolonization. It addresses other spaces that emerge through processes of cultural encounter and movement, and the importance of addressing art, culture, and aesthetics on local, regional, and supra-national scales.

ARTS 201, Digit Stud:Creat/Code/Cookbook
An introduction to digital art that covers select topics from a variety of digital art practices tied to the avant-garde, and rooted indeterminacy, concept, recipe, instruction, structure, algorithm, and procedure. Students make individual and collaborative artworks using instructions, recipes, code, and more. As a result of iteration, remixing, and collaboration, students reconsider the nature of authorship and artistry, and come to see art more as a process than a thing, more dynamic than static. Students are encouraged to explore concepts and programs beyond the basics; group and individual projects will require both rigorous concept development and proficiency in technology. The Little Hall Digital Studio is equipped with Macintosh computers and relevant software.

ARTS 216, Nature's Mirror: Art 1400-1550
Considers painting and sculpture of Europe ca. 1400–1550, examining major artists and regional practices within their social, political, and cultural settings. Themes include the development of linear perspective, the inheritance and interpretation of classical tradition, technologies of art, Renaissance “self-fashioning,” and narrative strategy as approached through visual analysis, primary source readings, and recent critical literature.

ARTS 238, Transatl Avant-Gard:1880-1920
This is a critical and historical survey of the visual arts from 1880 to 1920, examining how modern art transformed in reaction and response to radical technological, social, and political change. Particular attention will be paid to the roles played by industrialization, political and sexual revolution, rapid urban growth, and an expanding consumer culture in defining a wide range of visual culture. The course examines problems of representation, abstraction, and modernism as they are exemplified in painting, drawing, and sculpture, alongside the newer media of photography, assemblage, film, and collage.

ARTS 243, Art & Theory 1980 to Present
Focuses on the artistic outburst in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Breaking away from the traditional chronological survey of art along a Europe-US axis, students study themes and issues such as relational aesthetics, collaboration, and globalization to understand how art has been reinvented within the contemporary period. Along with studying particular artists and art practices, students discuss the increased importance of curators and exhibitions, especially the biennial system, as central to the circulation and networking of contemporary· art.

ARTS 248, African Art
A study of the principal art styles of sub-Saharan Africa, this course gives attention to both the formal and cultural aspects of indigenous art. The manufacture and usage of art objects is examined within the contexts of local religious, social, and political systems, as well as within the larger framework of language and cultural areas. Traditional art styles are analyzed as products of both collective aesthetics and individual innovation. Attention is given to transmission of art forms from culture to culture and to the persistence of traditional art in the face of social change.

ARTS 250, Native Art of N America
Relying on archaeological, art historical, and ethnographic sources, this course examines the principal art styles of the indigenous cultures of North America. The course explores such issues as the usefulness of art objects in reconstructing cultures of the past and as historical documents for living peoples; gender roles in art production; the relationship between art, technology, and utility; the use of art as educational tools, memory aids, and religious devices; the relative importance of tradition and innovation; and the role of contemporary art in Native North American life today.

ARTS 275, Amer Campus Architect:Colgate
The American Campus, a distinctive planning and architectural tradition, is the focus of this course. In the course of its study, students gain an overview of the evolution of American architecture from the colonial period to the present. Emphasis is on stylistic evolution of structures and the accommodation of shifting educational priorities in campus organization and planning. Analysis of the Colgate campus and its history is part of the course.

ARTS 280, Visual Culture of Fascism
Through a close analysis of cultural production and ideological statements, this course will examine the relationship between the politics of fascism and its visual practices, analyzing the role of art in the formation of the regimes' self-identity and in the formation of the fascist subjects. Students will consider the related but diverse manifestations of fascist culture in Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy in order to compare and contrast the heterogeneous modes of fascist visual culture in the interwar period. As well as examine responses to fascism in countries such as Great Britain, the United States, and Mexico, in order to understand the ways in which liberal regimes reacted to the visual propaganda of totalitarianism. Materials will include painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, graphic design, film, and forms of public spectacle and pageantry.

FSEM 160, Introduction to Studio Art
Faculty Profile for Professor Luthra

This course is an introduction to the methods and ideas central to contemporary art practice. Rather than focus on one particular medium, you will try a variety of ways of working, including drawing, collage and photography. Each project is an opportunity to test the material and expressive possibilities of different ways of making. You will be asked to link your visual choices to the production of meaning, develop technical skills, work through initial impressions to find conceptual depth, and actively engage with both artistic and social discourses. Projects will be given historical and theoretical context through slide shows, readings, and the Wednesday afternoon artist lecture series. Careful looking and thinking about visual art are key elements of the course, and are vital to any art practice. The course is designed to both familiarize you with the field of contemporary art practice, and help you find the ideas and processes that are meaningful to you. .” Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive course credit for ARTS 100 and satisfy one half of their Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry requirement.

Lakshmi Luthra teaches Studio Art with an emphasis on photography, in the department of Art and Art History.