Art History and Theory


Art History and 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.

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Art Education Licensure Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family. 

Share your interest with friends and family: 
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  2. Get more information about the program.
  3. Schedule a campus visit so you can meet professors, see the beautiful Gunnison Valley, and find out if Western is the perfect school for you.
  4. Start the online application process - apply online now.
  5. Find scholarships, grants, or financial aid that match your interests and situation.


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. To find scholarships based on year of study (e.g. - Freshmen Scholarships), please see the navigation to the left.

 Caniff, Al Art Scholarship

Caniff, Al Art Scholarship is available to:

Must be a full-time Western senior student majoring in Art with an overall GPA of 3.0 or above. The student must exhibit service to the Art program by involvement with Art League or other co-curricular art activities. Preference will be given to BFA Senior Veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

Art Scholarship Provided by: 

Established by Dr. Al Caniff

Scholarship Amount: $1000

Scholarship Recipient Selected by:

Art Faculty in consultation with the Financial Aid Office.

Scholarship Application:

Spring 2016 available in the Escalante main corridor, black magazine rack.

Faculty & Staff


Professor of Art - Art History ( Administrative Director Master in Gallery Management and Exhibits Specialization ( Colorado State Representative, Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (
B.A., M.A., University of Victoria; Ph.D., University of Texas-Austin.
Phone: (970) 943-3031
Office Location: Quigley Hall 231