Helicon is the U-M History of Art undergraduate student organization dedicated to supporting the local visual arts community. The group runs a blog, curates student exhibitions, and edits Hel[icon], an arts publication that appears at the end of each school year. Their many activities include community service, museum visits, an arts-oriented spring break trip, and socials.
Where are you from?
I am lucky to call Petoskey, Michigan my hometown. It is a beautiful resort town on Lake Michigan about four hours northwest of Ann Arbor. The small community there is very arts oriented and creative; the landscape of Petoskey has always been so saturated with writers, artists and musicians that it gave me a deep appreciation for the arts since a very young age.
What is one of your earliest memories of appreciating art?
When I was in fourth grade, my art teacher gave us an assignment to imitate a style of a particular artist. I chose Cezanne. It was a much more challenging exercise than I expected and I really gained a new respect for the creative process. Mine turned out okay. Actually, my dad still has the painting hanging in his office.
Why did you decide to major in art history?
For me, art has always been intertwined with life. It made sense to me to study their interactions across time periods and cultures. Since highschool I’ve been very sure that I wanted to study the history of art as a way to combine my interest in history with my passion for art!
What has been your favorite history of art class, and why?
Last year I took a class with Tom Willette called “The Art and Poetry of Michelangelo.” That class combined essentially all of my favorite things: Renaissance art, Italian culture and language, and poetry. It was also really interesting to look so much more closely at one artist in particular after a couple years of classes covering much broader topics.
What is your favorite piece of public art on campus, and why?
Honestly I’m a sucker for The Cube. I love how a contemporary work has become such a symbol of our institution. I also love how it is interactive and engages so many students and visitors on campus!
What are your plans after graduation?
Next fall I am planning to attend graduate school abroad for a masters program in arts management. Living abroad has always been a goal of mine, and I really believe that my degree gives me the perfect skill set to make that dream a reality. Ultimately, I hope to have a curating position in a museum/gallery or work in collections.
How do you think what you have learned from your history of art classes will serve you in the future, personally and/or professionally?
All of my art history classes have taught me how to be a much more efficient and effective communicator, both on paper and verbally. Being confident and able to interact with and explain visual information is another one of my strengths I wholly attribute to my history of art degree.
What do you think about the concern that an art history degree isn't marketable?
I can understand the concern, but only on the surface. In this day and age, so much of the information we receive and process is visual; I think the ability to recognize, read and interpret visual information is a priceless skill, and that is exactly what art history teaches.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in art history?
I would urge them to try it out! Our department here offers such a range of types of classes that could cover nearly anything that you’re interested in. I know that for me, the most significant deciding factor about my degree was the program and the department as a whole. If you value a close-knit, supportive academic community, the history of art department could certainly be the place for you!