Considering that I have always been passionate about arts and crafts, it makes sense that I am getting my MA in Art History… in theory. In reality, I had no idea what I was getting into when I decided that Art History would be my major.
In college, I got my BFA in Pre-Art Conservation and graduated in 2008. Yes, there is such a major, and many have asked “What the hell is that?” Credit-wise, I basically double-majored in Studio Art and Art History, and minored in Chemistry. I also took two years of Italian to boot (little known fact: I lived in Florence, Italy for a semester. Irony?) The next most popular question that I used to get was “What would you do with that?” Until about 2010, I was hell-bent on being an art conservator. I did all sorts of work in the area with objects, paintings, and textiles conservators. But you may have noticed my graduation date– 2008– which meant that I graduated smack in the middle of the so-called Great Recession. That made it very difficult to find steady, paid work (which is asking a lot of the conservation field anyway, but I wasn’t living in my mom’s basement either). After 3 rejections from grad schools and finding better career opportunities in the somewhat related fields of art collections management and registration, I gave up on my conservation aspirations.
For those not “in the know,” art conservation, collections management, and registration are relevant to the Museum Studies-side of things– another way of putting it is that it’s all very “practical.” Art History is much more theoretical (at least that’s the main emphasis at my current school). Having had such a practical career path and going into something so abstract has been no easy task; in retrospect, I may have fared better if I went for my Master’s in Museum Studes. However, fine art has made up the bulk of the objects I have worked with, and I have been told by many professionals in the field that it is smarter to get your Master’s degree in a specific discipline rather than the broader area of Museum Studies. It was after I was accepted to my program that I was informed about the Museum Studies program’s Professional Certificate in Museology, which is only 4 classes as opposed to 8-9. The hope is that the combination of the MA and Certificate, as well as professional experience, will work for my benefit on my resume’. In spite of my semi-bitterness about Art History, which I mostly attribute to the stress of grad school itself, I am– always have been and always will be– in love with art.
So what does all this autobiographical stuff have to do with my aims with this blog? Critical reading of art historical and philosophical material is not my strong point, and as I prepare for comps (or comprehensive exam), I need to be able to come up with a cohesive argument that takes into account multiple viewpoints in scholarship as well as where I stand on the subject. Which means I have to read A LOT and remember key points. This all will eventually be to the benefit of my thesis.
My thesis topic centers around a local woman who considers herself to be a Surrealist artist. There are a lot of issues surrounding Surrealism, such as whether or not the movement (or an iteration of the movement) is still “alive,” women’s roles as muses and/or as active participants, how Surrealism is interpreted in “peripheral areas” (a.k.a. outside of Paris, NYC, LA– these are the places that are more acknowledged by the history books and are thus “centers”). My aim is to look at all of the aforementioned topics, as well as the idea of minor history and art of the American West.
Thus, you can expect to see all of these topics on this blog! I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more after talking further with my major and minor advisors…