Critical Focus on the Visual Arts: Art and Architecture (Online)

Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
II - July 21–August 7, 2020
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10–11:00 a.m. and 1:10–3:00 p.m.
Nenette Arroyo, Thomas Ian Campbell

“I have gained knowledge on various artworks and their influences on society. I have gained more connections with people.” – Merima R. | New York, New York

Course Description

A two-course curricular option that provides a concentrated study of aesthetic concepts for students interested in the visual arts. Both courses emphasize critical thinking and analysis, skills that will be valuable to students in whatever fields they choose to pursue in college and beyond.

Architecture and Society: New York’s Built Environment

This course introduces students to the visual analysis of architecture. Instead of surveying the history of architecture, we look at specific New York landmarks so as to understand how great structures not only fulfill practical needs but also influence our relationship to the physical and social world around us. By studying some of the city's notable museums, parks, houses of worship, office buildings, and transportation centers, we see how these sites reflect and inform different kinds of social experiences. Students become familiar with basic architectural vocabulary (such as light, space, mass, and circulation) and come to appreciate how architects of different eras and sensibilities have engaged these same elements to different ends.

We examine historical and current images of key buildings and places, discuss their essential role in urban life, and identify significant events which have made them memorable. We also consider how their portrayal in popular culture has contributed to New York’s identity and image as an American city and a global destination.

Some of the sites we consider typically include Columbia University’s campus, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, Lever House, and the 9/11 Memorial.

Problems in the History of Art

This course covers a range of artworks from various periods in Western art, beginning with Renaissance painting and concluding with contemporary art. Students learn about the materials and techniques that artists use as well as the historical contexts in which they operate. While we look closely at specific artworks using the tools of formal analysis, we also discuss the different methodologies art historians use to interpret the social and cultural meanings these artworks contain.

The goal of this class is to examine artworks while encouraging students to think about the choices that artists make as well as how these objects reflect and embody their specific cultures and time periods. While the course proceeds chronologically, it is not a historical survey; instead, each unit is a case study of a particular moment in the history of Western art and visual culture.

Students interested in taking a studio art class might be interested in Drawing: Eye and Idea or Painting: The Painted Image.


Nenette Arroyo

Nenette Arroyo is an advanced doctoral student in art and architectural history at the University of Virginia (UVA); she expects to complete her Ph.D. this spring. She holds an M.A. in the history of decorative arts and design from Parsons School of Design at The New School. Nenette studies and teaches architecture from diverse historical perspectives: stylistic, social, political, and religious. She received the award for outstanding graduate teaching from the UVA Art Department in 2018. She has authored Sacred Light: Stained Glass Windows of Southeastern Virginia, commissioned by the Chrysler Museum of Art and the Virginia Art Festival, and two articles for the journal White House History. Nenette is a 2018 dissertation fellow of the Academy of American Franciscan History. At UVA, her research has been supported by the Americas Center, the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, and the Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation.  

Thomas Ian Campbell

Tom Campbell holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. His dissertation examines the attempts of British artists in the 1970’s to establish new contexts for their work beyond existing art institutions. Tom has taught a wide range of topics in Columbia University’s Art Humanities program and at the Horace Mann School, where he led courses on Renaissance and Modern art.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.