4 Things Being An Art History Major Taught Me


I, like many recent university graduates, am currently working in a field unrelated to the degree I spent 4 years attaining #sigh. Though I have not really utilized the numerous art theories and movements that i am so prepared to debate in bar/ first date conversation, i have found a great deal of use for the skills i managed to refine that allowed me to graduate successfully:

1. I am like so overqualified to tell you about how your choice of blouse color (red) evokes a sense of sensuality. Are you feeling passionate today? Because you sure look ready to conquer the male species of which you feel is probably suppressing you, hence your subconscious choice to don the aforementioned crimson colored blouse. Let us too talk about why you decided to wear a sleeveless top as opposed to a short sleeved top or even a long sleeved top. Did the weather play a factor into your decision? Oh, you didn’t check the temperature before you left this morning? So you must either be subjecting yourself to a fleshier appearance for the attention or for simple aesthetic pleasure (of which I simultaneously support and understand!) This red sleeveless blouse is totally working for you. BUT WAIT, let me give you five or six different words to further explain what i mean by red: scarlet, cherry, ruby, blood, cardinal…

2. Now that my sort-of-not-really-in-depth analysis of your red sleeveless blouse is over, lets talk about how awesome I am at maintaining awkward conversation. As art history majors, we have sat through countless lectures of uncomfortable silences. standard of many undergrad classes, a slide of lets say, ‘Hygieia-Aphrodite’ circa the Roman empire pops up, the dreaded “what can we say about this work?” is asked, and all heads gradually bow down. These moments were not only completely petrifying but sometimes made you rethink this whole ‘art history is easy’ thing because your brain is screaming “I HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT THIS LADY STATUE IS TRYING TO TELL ME”. Enter seminar classes and you finally got this group discussion thang mastered. A slide of an unfamiliar to you piece of art is displayed and you can ramble off at minimum 7 things that strike your fancy or not. this skill has translated exceptionally well into mainstream conversation. If ever i am stumped by an awkward pause, it takes about .5 seconds to recover and chatting (BANTER IF YOU’RE LUCKY) continues seamlessly.

3. I may have never traveled to São Paulo, the birthplace of my FAV female painter, nor visited the caves of Dunhuang, but I sure as hell know my cultural arts. I am such a fan of this new emphasis on being a ‘global citizen’. However, the trend to travel is one that requires lots of money. Studying art history gave me the chance to explore the world free of charge (like, sort of? #FAFSA). Art history opened my mind to new cultures, customs and traditions that i was previously oblivious to. having this degree not only expanded how i think, but also how i react and accept cultural differences. THANKS, WINSTON*.

4. Let me be bold here and say that art history taught me to be vulnerable. Though we are not artists (some are, hate you/jealous if you are shaking your head yes), we are wired similarly. Art historians are emotionally charged writers who find meaning in things where there wasn’t any before. We are problem solvers and riddle masters and SO insanely curious, a different breed of human if you will. for this reason, learning HOW to think like an art historian is absolutely one of the most challenging things I have ever done. But once you break down the barrier that is your brain telling you what you think is stupid or unimportant, you realize that this major teaches you not only how to think about art, but also how to understand and respect yourself. That little nugget of knowledge is sort of worth the monthly loan repayments.

To all of those out there wondering what the fuck you do with an art history degree, GET IN LINE. once you join the ranks of an AH graduate, you join an academic world so superior that I don’t think even those with actual paying museums jobs know what the hell is going on.

However, if you want to challenge your mind exponentially, become an equal parts speedy and insanely fantastic writer, as well as an extremely proficient debater/conversationalist — this is the life for you.

We welcome you with open moleskine notebooks and searing hot cappuccinos.

*Winston was my favorite professor at my university. Quirky and well groomed, he thoroughly believes in such thing as a stupid question and sports a dark head of hair with a patch he purposefully dyes white. If that doesn’t scream art history academic, I simply do not know what does.