Art History and Interior Design

Art history and interior design

Remember the sheer excitement and anticipation of field trips? Field trips meant a break from the ordinary day, a chance to leave the classroom and experience the world. JCCC is offering that “field-trip feeling” every week this spring with enrollment in a special art history/interior design learning community.

Students taking the Learning Communities course of Art History 182: Renaissance to Modern and Interior Design 231: History of Furniture and Ornamentation (LCOM 128) will have the opportunity study the fine and decorative arts at three different area museums.

The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art will act as home base, where students will meet every Tuesday. On Thursdays, however, the field trips begin. Most trips will be to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., but the class also will visit the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kan.

The reason the two classes are taught together, explained Jan Cummings, professor/chair, interior design, is so students can benefit from the shared knowledge of both instructors. Cummings will be teaching the course with Allison Smith, professor/chair, art history, and both bring to the art an experienced eye but a unique perspective based on their areas of specialty, she said.

Students who take the Learning Communities course receive credit for both courses (6 credits total). They enroll in the classes separately, and the courses are listed separately on their transcripts. The real difference, Smith said, is the closeness that is formed within the class.

“I truly enjoy the one-on-one opportunity to get to know students,” Smith said. With the enrollment capped at only 16, the 8:1 student-professor ratio allows time for a more personal connection, she said.

“The students get to know each other very well, too. They’ll work together, and because the class falls over the lunch hour, they’ll even eat lunch together,” Cummings said. (Classes meet from 12:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.)

 Cummings thinks the title of “Learning Communities” could sound daunting to college students, especially in the study of art, which can be a bit daunting all on its own. Both professors want to invite students regardless of their design expertise or art background.

“It’s an entry-level class,” Smith explained. “It’s also just a great opportunity to learn about this real gem in our community that is the Nelson,” she said.

Smith said that the Nelson-Atkins Museum recently redesigned their galleries so paintings of a certain age are arranged within the same room as furniture and decorative-art pieces of that era. That presentation makes the work of team teaching the class that much easier, Smith said.

As soon as the class curriculum reflects 20th-century art, the Nerman’s galleries will be studied as well.

Those expecting to sit in a darkened room while a professor clicks through art slides will be sorely disappointed. This is no “art in the dark” or “sage on a stage,” Smith explained. It’s a way to see the art up close and personal, and it’s a chance to talk about it with other people.

“A student definitely benefits from seeing the ‘living artworks’ as it were, not just a slide,” Smith. “It becomes a different experience.”

For more information on the class, see the credit class search.