Q&A with Art History Professor Erin Dusza
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a proud Army Brat. I fell in love with the architecture and history of medieval Europe while living overseas. It took a few years for me to take that interest and meld it with academic history. I have a B.F.A. in Theater Design and an M.A. in Art History. I wrote my thesis on Alphonse Mucha's later career and a Czech patriotic movement called Pan-Slavism. I currently teach Art History part-time at the Art Institute of Atlanta in Decatur and have students tell me every quarter that they hate history . . . until they take it with me!
I love getting to share my love of history in a casual, funny story telling kind of way to show how interesting history can be. I also love studying about Ancient Egypt, Medieval and Renaissance Europe and the Early 20th Century. OK, and just about anything in between!
Outside of academics, I also like to study the development of the Walt Disney Company and its theme parks, European and Mexican cooking, old movies and Broadway Musicals. I have two Cairn Terrier children and a wonderful husband who supports me at home and puts up with all my quirks.
What is it about Art History that excites you?
So many people remember their history classes from grade school; in year “x”, “blah blah” invaded here and after the battle of “blech” they gathered at “boring point” and signed the treaty of “snore”.
I found I could study history the way I liked it - by looking at an artifact made by someone in that time - and ignore the battles and treaties that I found boring. I could connect what was happening in a time period by looking at what they made, how they made it and how they chose to make it look. Each work of art tells a story, so I enjoy telling the stories and connecting the history - not the other way around!
Can you give an example of a story you find particularly interesting, behind a piece of artwork?
A perfect answer to your question would be the story of how the Mona Lisa got so famous. Before 1911, the Mona Lisa was a lesser known work by Leonardo Da Vinci. On August 21st, 1911, Vincenzo Perugia stole the Mona Lisa, believing that he would be hailed a hero in Italy for returning the work to its homeland.
The result was a grand print media campaign as the world looked for the small renaissance painting. That print campaign literally established the Mona Lisa as the most famous painting in the world. I think that makes for a pretty amazing story.
What do you hope students take away from these classes?
I want to open their eyes to the impact that historical styles and works still have on us today. In My Monuments Men lecture I want them to learn the lesser told story of the role of artwork in WWII and also the dangers of extremism. In the Women Artists class I want them to learn about what women went through to become artists, gain acceptance, and the influences they had on not just one another but also the artistic world at large. I am also happy to take suggestions on any other desired subject matter!
Did you know that art played a large role in WWII? That Hitler actually made of list of artwork he wanted from different cities in Europe BEFORE he made his invasion plans? Did you see the movie Monuments Men and still have questions? Want to sit down with an art historian for an evening and have your questions answered? The evening will include a look at Hitler's relationship to art, the works he and his men stole, and the efforts made to protect and recover art from his troops.
Women Artists through History with Erin Dusza
Why did women struggle to become artists? What obstacles did they face? How did women artists contribute to Art History? This course will cover from the Renaissance through early 20th century art. It will include an examination of artistic training, techniques, salons and receptions to women artists. There will also be discussions of female patrons, and innovators. Come see history from a feminine perspective!
Written by Jacob Gunter
For questions, more information, or registration please contact the BINDERS Education Office at 404237-6331 ext. 203 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.