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Art History Department Branches Out into the Dallas Community, Strengthens Partnerships

Art History majors learn the value of community building first-hand

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2010 Art History newsletter.

Art History at SMU historically has been the bridge between arts and humanities across campus. This year we worked to strengthen partnerships with organizations in the Dallas community as well. We continued to work with Advanced Placement Strategies, Inc. (APS), a wonderful nonprofit corporation that works with Texas schools and the private sector to manage Advanced Placement incentive programs for students, teachers and schools. Their programs are modeled after a successful similar enterprise designed and implemented by the o’Donnell Foundation in Dallas.

In September 2009, Angie Diksa, a talented alum of our M.A. program in art history, taught a series of enrichment classes for Charlotte Chambliss’ AP art history students at DISD’s Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. And on Saturday, April 17, 2010, SMU hosted several hundred AP art history students on campus for a “College Bowl” sponsored by the o’Donnell Foundation. The day-long program used campus art resources and architecture for a series of object-based exercises. A group of SMU art history majors participated by leading discussion sessions for smaller groups of high school students intended to mirror “live AP exam” prompts.

Additionally, three SMU art history majors chose to do their internships this year at the Dallas Historical Society. They describe the experience of learning to catalogue and research art and artifacts at the D.H.S. as invaluable.

Finally this year we scheduled two of our Comini Art Lectures off campus in area institutions with missions related to the content of the talks. Professor Kirk Savage’s lecture on memorial art and culture was held in the Sixth Floor Museum and was followed by a walking tour of the area’s many memorial sites. We also forged a partnership with the Afican American Museum in Fair Park. The AAM co-sponsored and provided the venue for another of our Comini lectures last year, by Professor Krista Thompson of Northwestern University, who delivered the talk Keeping It Real: Club Photography, Black Youth, and the Visual Economy of Light.

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