Art History & Theory


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For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

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

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 cred.)

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 cred.)

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 cred.)

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 cred.)

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 cred.)

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.

Faculty & Staff


Heather Orr, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Art History
Phone: 970.943.3031
Office Location: Quigley Hall 231


Program-Based Scholarships

Caniff, Al Art Scholarship


  • 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

Institutional Scholarships

Common Scholarships

Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit our scholarships page.

Early Action Credit

If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit

Neighboring States Program

Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Presidential Promise

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.

Tuition Discount Programs

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Western Merit Scholarship

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Gallery Exhibits: Students have opportunities to display their work in numerous shows, exhibits, convocations and galas—on campus and in the community.
  • Pathfinder Magazine: An annual publication for student creative work.
  • Student Art League: A branch of the Council for Creative expression, the Student Art League is dedicated to providing visual arts, experiences, professional development, educational opportunities and outreach for Art students.

The arts are among the oldest forms of record keeping and human discourse—meaningful communication that expresses and shapes cultural ideas and practices. 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.

The Art History & Theory emphasis provides a strong foundation in western and worldly art history and theory, emphasizing the development of solid research, writing and presentation skills. Art students study both visual art practices and art history in order to be successful in their area of specialization and achieve the level of training expected of professionals in any field.

Learn More

Reach out for more information about the program.

A photo of a Western art professor
Professor of Art History
Office Location: 
Quigley Hall 231

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