Why You Should Major in Art History


Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Jeff Tuffner

Students interested in the arts at Bucks Country Community College can take part in the various academic majors, including fine arts and art history, offered at the school.

The Bucks’ art and art history major teaches students the different processes within the making of various objects in art along with the studying of many historical pieces of art.

Lisa Swan, a professor at Bucks who works within the arts and communication department teaching art history, puts an emphasis on the some of the skills emphasized within the art history program.

“I teach art history and one skill that we hone over the course of a semester is critical thinking and connections between artworks and the time periods and cultures they are a part of.”

She adds,  “the interweaving of visual works with context really creates a bigger picture that has the potential to foster a greater understanding of the world in general.”

The fine arts program, on the other hand, is ideal for art students who want to formulate a strong understanding of arts and craft that goes into it.

Swan said,  “I think fine arts requires a lot of perseverance and focus. If one is an artist, they need to concentrate on projects and be goal driven.”

The fine arts program teaches students the skills necessary for one to pursue a career in the field of arts.

“If one is an artist, they need to concentrate on projects and be goal driven. If one is an art historical scholar, one needs to be able to study things carefully, noticing details and making connections to the larger picture,” said Swan, pointing out how the skills taught will prove to be important for particular careers.

Historical scholar is just one of the career opportunities a fine arts major can pursue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, common careers for a fine arts major include graphic designer, art director, set and exhibit designer, and other teaching opportunities.

On the other hand, the art and art history degree offers students pretty similar career options. The Bucks’ course catalog mentions some these careers which include work within museums, archaeological investigation, and of course teaching.

Within each of the degrees, there are numerous classes students will be required and offered at Bucks. Within the arts and art history major there is VAFA 192, this course, according to Swan, “covers Early Renaissance art to Impressionism, including Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicsism, Romanticism, and Realism.

There is also the VAFA 193 course which focuses primarily on modern art history which includes “19th century styles of art like Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, and conceptual art.”

For fine arts majors, some of the Bucks’ courses offered include VAFA 101, a course focusing on two-dimensional design. The concepts, as the course catalog mentions, focus on “creativity, conceptualization, problem-solving, skill-building, expression, execution, teamwork, research techniques, and presentation.”

Also offered is VAFA 102, which concentrates on three-dimensional elements and how two and three-dimensional concepts differentiate.

Nonetheless, whether art history or the fine arts, Bucks provides students with various opportunities to get their start in the area of the arts.

“The Bucks art department has fantastic facilities and fantastic instructors.  I think we are also in a great geographic location to be connected to Philadelphia and New York City and Washington, D.C., as well.  It puts Bucks at the heart of a very cultural area.”