On studying Art History

I interviewed my mom, Robin Goodridge, who graduated from Colby College with a double major in French and Art History.  She loves the arts.


What made you decide to declare an Art History major?

I knew going into college that I wanted to major in Art History.  I was inspired by a teacher in my high school. He was phenomenal. He should have been a college professor. And also, you just get acclimated and orientated to something you’re good at.

What were some things you learned from studying Art History?

I really loved learning about Impressionism and the High Renaissance – that was when there were geniuses in a lot of things, like art and literature. With art you’re not just studying a particular style, but you’re studying particular people and places. That was what was so fascinating. There was always a story behind it, a story behind the painting. It really encompasses a lot: sociology, psychology, history, and culture. When you think about it – what remains from a lot of ancient civilizations? Art. So a lot of people when they look at paintings, they don’t realize that the subject matter is really important with regards to class, occupations, and religion. All throughout time, people’s styles have evolved and gotten more sophisticated and refined. But even the most primitive styles told a story and that’s how you can discover things out about a society. Art is kind of like music in its beauty, and you need beauty for your well-being. In life we need to be surrounded by beauty. Like I can’t imagine a world without music and art. If you think about it, when you go into people’s homes they have art on the walls. It enhances your life. It’s not just one focused thing because you are studying about different parts of the world. Sometimes you can say, “This is definitely Greek or this is definitely French.” So you can learn about other countries. It’s really fascinating. It really is. It’s enriching because you’ve studied the history, politics, architecture of the world through generations and generations. To me, people who comment and say things like, “What is an Art History major good for?,” don’t know what art history is and what’s involved. I didn’t study it because it was a specific career that I was going to go into. People don’t necessarily go on to have a career in what they study at a liberal arts college. As it turns out, I ended up in a field that is actually more scientific that what I studied in college. Sometimes people just have more creative pursuits. I knew that I loved French and Art History so that’s what I double-majored in , and I would do it all again. My studies certainly came in handy when I went to Europe.

What was it like to study abroad in France?

I loved knowing about all the history in Paris. Everywhere you go, the visual history is in the buildings. I took a couple art history classes in French. That made it more difficult, but it was a great experience. I studied art history very thoroughly, starting in high school and then pursuing it in college so when I actually went to Paris and lived and walked in the historical places it was indescribable. It’s a field where you need to go out and see things. We would take field trips to the Louvre, Versailles, Chartres Cathedral, and Mont St. Michel. I felt totally immersed in what had been in my notebook months prior.


What advice would you give to students who are curious about Art History?

I would recommend anyone to take an art history class. If you are interested in learning about history through the ages, take a class. I had some friends who took introductory classes to fulfill a distribution requirement and they loved it. It is a lot more difficult than people think. You have to have a good memory. But, you remember things you are more engaged in.


~ Courtney G.

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