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The Art department comprises studio art and art history, complementary and interrelated disciplines with a shared interest in the art object and its historical and theoretical contexts. The four art historians teach courses in western and non western art ranging from ancient to contemporary, and the three artists teach courses in drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, digital media and artists' books. The two branches of the department are united both philosophically and, to an extent rare among liberal arts institutions, in actual practice. Art historians and artists participate on each junior qualifying and senior thesis exam, and students writing a thesis in studio art or art history are required to take at least four courses in the other discipline. The near balance of course requirements enables some majors to cross disciplines when going on to graduate study or professional work.

Two lectureships, the Stephen E. Ostrow Visitors Program and the Robert L. Lehman Fund, enable the department to bring distinguished individuals in the arts to the college for periods of up to a week. These visitors give public lectures and seminars with students, and Ostrow artist visitors often coincide with a show of their work in the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery. Robert Morris, Michael Fried, Leo Steinberg, Linda Nochlin, Al Held, Dennis Oppenheim, Adrian Piper and Judy Pfaff are among past Ostrow visitors.

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