Weber Fine Arts – Kelsey Bee sat down recently with Art History Professor Amy Morris.
What do you love about teaching?
AM: Having the opportunity to help students look at things in the world differently, to see art as visual communication, to appreciate beauty, to understand how art reflects values and ideas from different cultures and our own. If we learn about these different values and ideas, we can collectively help to be open-minded and appreciative.
What are you most passionate about right NOW?
AM: I’m very passionate about getting students to graduate school. Two students just went to Ireland and earned their graduate degrees. Right now, I’m writing a letter for a student; she might be the best student I’ve had in twenty years and she’s applying to top schools. Fingers crossed for her!
Something else that’s important to me is getting students to study abroad by taking them to Europe. From an art standpoint, showing students reproductions of images is so much different than how it feels to stand at Stonehenge or at Westminster Abbey and feel the stone, to feel dwarfed by a cathedral, or to be in front of a painting and really look at the brushworks of the artist. It’s amazing, and students need to experience it.
Why is studying art history at UNO a good idea?
AM: UNO should become a destination art program. We give students the skills to be successful. Almost all of our students have had opportunities to do internships, and in the very competitive art history environment, the more hands-on experience you have, the better your chances are of continuing to gain experience. Our students have had internships at KANEKO, Gallery 1516, and the Joslyn Art Museum. We also have courses in which they can build the skills for a professional career, such as planning exhibitions. Also, since technical art history is becoming so prevalent in the field, teaching it is helping studio art students as well.
Our faculty cares deeply about getting students where they need to go. Recently, one of our undergraduate students had a paper selected for presentation at the Southeastern College Art Conference. We also really push students to get a foundation in different languages because that’s necessary and valuable for art history. The humanities can often be competitive, and we are aware of how to make committed students the strongest they can be in order to get into the best graduate program and really succeed in the future.
What is the focus of your research?
AM: I’ve been working on a Renaissance textbook with a colleague. This book will combine Northern Renaissance art and Italian Renaissance art. We think that it really fills a need since a lot of universities don’t have specialists who know both Northern and Italian Renaissance, and many of these classes are being combined. They used to be separate specialties, but because resources aren’t what they were, there needs to be people who can instruct both.
I’ve also been researching a painting at the Joslyn Museum right here in Omaha called, “Madonna and Child with Saints Catherine and Agnes.” No one knows who the artist is, but it is attributed to the workshop of Jan Gossaert, the very famous artist of the Northern Renaissance! I like working on something that’s sort of understudied, in a Midwestern museum, and being able to bring it more prominence because it really is beautiful, and just because the name of the artist is unknown doesn’t make it any less important. So far, I’ve presented three conference papers on it, I’m currently writing an article, and I’m presenting on it again in Toronto at the Renaissance Society of America in the spring. Clearly, there’s an interest in this.
Dr. Amy Morris has been teaching in the Art & Art History program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha since 2012. As an Associate Professor, she has acted as unit Coordinator, has led study abroad trips to Germany, Austria, and England, and continues to develop and refine online courses. A Midwest native and mother of two, Dr. Morris has a critical eye and sharp wit and is equally approachable and passionate.
Current Courses taught by Professor Morris:
ART 2050: Survey of Western Art History I
ART 2060: Survey of Western Art History II
ART 3760: Art History Seminar
ART 4810: Northern European Renaissance
ART 4830: Italian Renaissance Art History
ART 4850: Baroque & Rococo Art History
ART 4910: Independent Study in Art History
ART 4930: Special Topics in Art History
ART 4990: Art History Thesis
Kelsey Bee has a Master’s degree in English, is pursuing an MFA in creative writing and works as a staff assistant in the CFAM Dean’s office. She has generously shared her talents with the School of the Arts as an interviewer and guest writer.
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