App State art history club expands its niche community

Marlen Cardenas, Reporter

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Although art history only has 27 students majors or minors, the art history club is still up and running.

“We’re kind of a niche over here,” said John Stephenson, professor of art history and club supervisor. “It’s a small, niche boutique, humanities degree that a lot of students don’t even know exists before they come to college.”

Stephenson said one of the club’s main goals is to gain more recognition for art history.

“Most high school students don’t take courses in it, so they may not even know what it is,” Stephenson said. “Our first task is to get exposure and identity for our degree and our people.”

When Stephenson came to App State in 2008, he said he knew he wanted to create a club that could provide a community for those interested in art history.

  “If you want to go on in our degree, you have to get a higher degree, like a master’s degree, and so I wanted to think about helping students prepare for that,” Stephenson said.

Kiersten Staab, president of the art history club, said she believes the opportunities offered through the club are worth it.

“If you want to better your career in the art field, I would definitely come,” said Staab, a junior art history major. “We do a lot of cool things, like watch movies, and talk about art and learn about professional opportunities in the field.”

Staab interned at the North Carolina Museum of Art in the summer and said it solidified her decision in choosing her major. 

“I was mainly researching the Italian collection at NCMA,” Staab said. “I got to attribute a painting that had been kind of questionable, so that was really cool. I got to look into the conservation wing, as well, which was really awesome because you got to see all the paintings up close.”

Although the club has been around for a decade now, not many people showed up last year. 

“In the past it had been a really big club, and last year, I was working with Dr. Stephenson and trying to get it back up again, but nobody came to the meetings,” Staab said. “This year, more people come to the meetings, so we’re trying to keep that going.”

The club welcomes non-art history majors, and has more members than those majoring in art history.

“We’re actually up to about 27 students total this season (in art history), which is more than usual, so it’s a specialty degree, I guess,” Stephenson said. “I’ve been here for 12 years, so it’s not surprising anymore.”

Sophomore art history major Joel Crothers hadn’t thought about studying art history until he started college.

“I thought when I finished high school that I wanted to pursue studio art and one of the prerequisites for study is Art from Prehistory to 1400 and it kind of hit me that this was the perfect blend. I love art and I love ancient history, and this was the two combined,” Crothers said. 

Crothers encourages students to try out the art history club if they have ever had an interest in art.

“It is a nice little niche we have. We have a little corner of the world in Wey Hall that you can visit and be a part of,” Crothers said. “If you want a chance to go on adventures and go to museums and shows and galleries definitely.”

The number of students seeking a degree in art history is increasing, and the club welcomes those of all programs, Stephenson said.

“We’re having a lot of fun in our meetings together and our activities together,” Stephenson said. “We would be happy to hear people and see people from any degree area and calling cause we’re bigger than just art history.”

The art history club meets on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in Wey Hall Room 208.