Art History & Theory


Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

Caniff, Al Art Scholarship: $1,000


  • Full-time Western Senior majoring in Art
  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Student must exhibit service to the Art program by involvement with the ART League or other co-curricular art activities
  • Preference will be given to a BFA Senior Veterans of the United States Armed Forces


This scholarship is provided by Dr. Al Caniff.

Amount: $1000

Selected by: Art Faculty in consultation with the Financial Aid Office.


Contact the Art Department at 970.943.3093 | Quigley Hall 202

Faculty & Staff


Heather Orr, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Art; Administrative Director Master in Gallery Management & Exhibits Specialization; Colorado State Representative, Association of Academic Museums and Galleries
Phone: 970.943.3031
Office Location: Quigley Hall 231


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 ART 321 - American Art: Colonial to Modern (3 credits)

A survey of the arts of America from the 17th century to the present. Emphasis is placed on uniquely American innovations and expressions, regional distinctions in American art, with a strong component in art of the American West; significant individual artists and trends; and the arts of the many diverse peoples that comprise America. Prerequisite: junior standing or instructor permission.

 ART 324 - Art Criticism and Critical Theory in Contemporary Art (3 credits)

A survey of contemporary art and art practices through the discipline of art criticism. This seminar course prepares students for senior-level courses and advanced studies in art and art history at the graduate level. A survey of modern and contemporary art since the midtwentieth century is followed by seminar presentations on selected readings. Prerequisites: ART 222 and ART 223.

 ART 325 - Women Artists (3 credits)

A survey of women artists and their work from the 16th century (Renaissance) to contemporary times. The contributions of women artists and the changing roles of women in the western tradition of the visual arts are examined within relevant historical, political, social, theoretical, and gender contexts. Prerequisite: junior standing or instructor permission.

 ART 421 - Art of Mesoamerica and the Andean Region of South America (3 credits)

A survey of the arts of the Pre-contact civilizations in Middle America and the Andes. The art and architecture of these ancestral peoples are examined within their cultural contexts. Prerequisite: junior standing or instructor permission.

 ART 422 - Native American Art of North America (3 credits)

A survey of the arts of the indigenous (First Nations) civilizations of North America, from antiquity to the present era. The art and architecture of these peoples and artists are examined contextually. Prerequisite: minimum junior standing or instructor permission.

 ART 424 - Modern Art History, Aesthetics, Theory, and Criticism (3 credits)

An exploration of trends and developments in the Western tradition of the visual arts from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, considering Modernism, Post-Modernism, and recent tendencies. The visual arts of these periods are viewed through the lens of theories and ideas that have powered change in Western art, including current revisionist and theoretical considerations in Art and Art History. Prerequisite: minimum junior standing or instructor permission.

Art History & Theory

Art historians ask questions and seek answers about artists, patrons, audiences, art worlds, the artistic objects themselves, and when, how and why those works were created. In a sense, art historians “excavate” history in art through their research. Art historians are scholars who thus specialize in the reading and interpretation of art works as historic and cultural documents, examining works of art within their historic and cultural contexts.

The arts are among the oldest forms of human record-keeping and human discourse – meaningful communication that expresses and shapes cultural ideas and practices. Artists are scholars, who inherit this tradition of discourse, with an ancestry and heritage dating back to early humans. Trained artists must therefore study both visual art practices and art history in order to be successful in their area of specialization, achieve the level of training expected of professionals in any field, and, in short, to call themselves “artists.” Art history also provides artists with the ability to place their own work and contributions within a larger cultural and historic perspective.

Critical theory helps art historians and artists to develop more penetrating lines of investigation. Theory guides these professionals to think along deeper and more complex lines about a subject and provides insights.

The Western Art department provides both Art and Art History students with a broad foundation in western and non-western art history and in theory, emphasizing the development of solid research, writing and presentation skills.