Symposium celebrates art history

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James Dusek

Top students present art history lectures for 16th year.

By Solomon A. Wilson

Art and history will go hand in hand at the 16th Annual Student Symposium in Art History 10:50 a.m.-noon April 4 in Room 120 of the visual arts center.

Guests will be able to listen to a short talk about five unique pieces of art that includes visual and verbal descriptions of their history.

The symposium will feature art history essays from five top students enrolled in art classes at this college.

In 2001, Debra Schafter, art historian and visual arts professor, was inspired by this college’s annual student exhibition that displayed students’ work every spring and thought art history classes deserved their chance in the limelight.

She said she felt like the work they did in art history was being ignored, so she orchestrated the event that has been running ever since.

“We came up with this idea to have an annual art history symposium like we both experienced in grad school,” Schafter said of a former colleague who helped brainstorm the symposium. Schafter attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin.

Faculty and staff throughout the year look for outstanding papers written by students throughout all visual arts classes and submit them to Schafter for final review.

The symposium will include presentations such as “The Art of War” and “Ancient Artistic Artifacts: A Tale of Two Princes.”

“It’s like telling a great story; it’s like filmmaking,” Schafter said, describing what it’s like to be a part of the symposium.

Each student will receive a 12- to 13-minute period to speak about a topic covering not only the history but the art that came with it and how the art is interpreted today through the students’ eyes.

The analysis gives students an opportunity to learn at a more advanced level than usual, Schafter said.

“The result definitely opens their awareness of what they’re capable of doing,” Schafter said.

Students elaborate on selected artwork and the history behind it in front of peers, professors and art historians, “taking their really good research, distilling it down to a beautiful communicated talk where you inform people of the research you did and the ideas you arrived at,” Schafter said.

The free event is open to the public and there will be a reception following the presentations.

For more information, call Schafter at 210-486-1042 or email


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