Name: Taylor Alessio
Year: Class of 2016
Majors: History of Art, Programs in Museums and Society
Hometown: Manalapan, NJ
I study the history of art for a number of reasons, namely because I love it. History of art offers a unique lens through which to view history, by studying the objects and art preserved in collections and museums. In this way an art historian not only has to have a deep understanding of history, but also philosophy, theology, technology, and politics. During my time at Hopkins as an art historian I’ve explored the socio-political consequences of trade in Ancient Cyprus, gained an understanding of the medieval views of Jews through German Medieval passion screens, traced the importance of Warhol’s destruction of painting through post-war Europe, and admired the simple understated beauty of the pages of the Guttenberg Bible. The Art History program at Hopkins is a small, but an exciting and vibrant program, with tons of options for interesting coursework, research, and study abroad. The museums on campus, and within the greater city of Baltimore, allow students to work hands on with objects and artifacts. Students in art history can be found curating shows on campus and in local galleries, hunting for fakes through technical museum analysis, or learning about the making of historic papers by making their own at in a paper-making studio at MICA (which I did last week!).
Art History professors are some of the most amazing on campus and I think most would agree that a great art history lecture can inspire the most science and technology minded students to take a humanities course. Through some of the amazing classes I’ve taken in my time here I’ve traveled the streets of the Roman Republic with Professor Tucci, investigated art crimes with Dr. Deleonardis while exploring the Ancient Americas art market, surveyed the state of art after WWII with Dr. Warnock, and unpacked the palimpsest that is the Vatican and its art with Dr. Havens. Projects or interests from classes easily become research projects or honors theses. My experiences as an undergraduate at Hopkins have not only prepared me for graduate school, but also museum careers. Many art history students choose to minor in Programs in Museums and Societies, which is an awesome opportunity to gain museums experience and explore a number of careers in the art world (everything from intellectual property law to conservation science). Every class I take opens my eyes to the diverse and ever-expanding fields in which art historians get to work. I often joke with friends that my undergraduate training as an art historian will supply me with what I call “cock tail party” knowledge. It the stuff you can whip out of your back pocket in the chicest and most intelligent way to impress any crowd. Whether that be talking about Piero Manzoni’s Merda d’Artiste with friends at a baseball game or lamenting about the newly overly-cleaned ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with Renaissance historians.
But in reality, learning the history of art has not only taught me how to think critically, but continues to open my mind to new cultures and ideas, challenges me intellectually, and continually inspires me to continue to seek knowledge.
Click here to access more information about the History of Art Undergraduate Program of Study.
To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the History of Art question thread._______________________________________________________________________________