A unique approach
Studying art history at an art college is intrinsically different. KCAI’s art history program reflects a unique approach that combines academic rigor with an understanding of studio practice. This approach combines the study and analysis of art with with a deep understanding of media, technique and the dynamics of art making in tandem with the history and theories of art.
We know that many students are drawn to methods and materials, and that they frequently interpret the art history discourse through that understanding. Recognizing this fact led us to include artist’s studio practice and education as part of the curriculum. Investigating art historical methodology and scholarship within the context of a studio-based environment provides the student with insights and perspectives regarding the relationships between concept and practice. We feel strongly that this enhances student’s interest and engagement in the subject matter while truly distinguishing our program.
Michele Fricke, M.F.A.
Professor & Program Head in Art History
Michele Fricke teaches ancient and renaissance art and the history of textiles and ceramics. A practicing artist, Fricke creates fiber work that has been shown in exhibitions across the country and which also is represented in many private collections. She has been published in Ceramics Monthly and Fiberarts and is a regular contributor to the Surface Design Journal. Her current research involves an investigation of historical architecture, interpreted in knitted form. Fricke received KCAI’s “Excellence in Teaching Award” in 1993. She has spoken at numerous venues including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the National Association of Colleges of Art and Design, the Red Star Studio in Kansas City, and recently, at Baylor University on “Fiber Art: The New Dynamism.” Before coming to KCAI in 1988, she taught at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.; St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind.; and the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. At the last two schools, she also served as the director of exhibitions. Fricke earned a B.S. degree in education, an M.A. degree in art history and an M.F.A. degree in fiber from Northern Illinois University.
Reed Anderson, Ph.D.
Reed Anderson, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in American art from the University of Kansas and has taught a variety of classes since coming to KCAI in 2004. He specializes in the history of prints and printmaking, which inspired an exhibition and catalog sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas. Dr. Anderson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree in art history from the University of Washington, Seattle. His dissertation for the Ph.D. degree is entitled “An Epic of the American Farm: James Chapin and the Marvin Paintings.”
Steve Cromwell teaches history of photography, history of film, contemporary European art, Latino art of the 20th century, 19th century painting, aesthetics and art criticism, women in contemporary art, modern sculpture and American art since 1945. Formerly an exhibiting artist, Cromwell’s mixed media photographic work has been shown in many solo, invitational, group and juried exhibitions throughout the United States. Cromwell has been a visiting artist and lecturer for a number of special programs and colleges. He has served as photo editor of The Cottonwood Review literary magazine at the University of Kansas, and as editor of Words, a literary magazine at Kendall College. He has been a member of the KCAI faculty since 1972, and he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas.
Rebecca Dubay, Ph.D.
Rebecca Dubay, Ph.D., joined the KCAI faculty in 2011 as an assistant professor of art history, specializing in contemporary art and theory. Her teaching interests include global contemporary art, art theory and criticism, art and gender, and more. Previously, she taught in the M.F.A. in studio art program at Moore College of Art & Design. As a graduate student, she received outstanding teaching awards at Bryn Mawr College and Tufts University. Dubay received a B.A. degree in art history and business management from the University of South Florida, an M.A. degree in art history from Tufts University, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the history of art from Bryn Mawr College.
Jan Kennedy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Program Head of the Asian Studies Certificate Program
Jan Kennedy joined the faculty at KCAI in 2006, previously working as a lecturer at KCAI and adjunct assistant professor at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan. She received a B.A. in the history of art and English literature, an M.A. in the history of art, and a Ph.D., all from the University of Kansas. Her major area for her Ph.D. was 17th Century Dutch and Flemish paintings and prints, and her minor areas were Venetian Cinquecento painting and Japanese painting of the Edo period. More recently, she was a keynote speaker presenting her current area of research on the Christian art of Japan. Kennedy is a member of the College Art Association, the Historians of Netherlandish Art and the Association for Asian Studies.
Licia Clifton-James, Ph.D.
Licia Clifton-James, Ph.D., a life-long resident of Kansas City, Missouri, received her doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in May 2016. In addition, she holds a Master’s of Art History, as well as a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree, from UMKC. Dr. Clifton-James’ dissertation was entitled Making the Connection: J.B. Murray and the Scripts and Spirit Figures of Africa, and focused on connecting elements of the art of an African American artist, J.B. Murray, to Senegalese, Kongo and Islamic customs and traditions. Dissertation research took her twice to Senegal, West Africa, the first of which was funded by a travel grant awarded by UMKC’s School of Graduate Studies. In Senegal, her research closely examined African scripts, signs and figures, as well as, elements of Islam and Sufism. Dr. Clifton-James is the wife of Mayor Sly James and together they have four children.
Erin Dahl is an adjunct professor with the Kansas City Art Institute and Metropolitan Community College. Dahl has previous experience teaching with the University of Kansas and Rockhurst University in Kansas City. Dahl’s teaching philosophy is centered on the context for art in terms of motive, significance and impact of social, political, historical and cultural underpinnings.
Deborah Dickson has taught at the Kansas City Art Institute since 1999. She earned her Bachelor of Science in biology and, in 1997, a Master of Arts in art history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In the last decade, she has published more than 100 art museum and gallery exhibition reviews in the local publications The Pitch and Review.
Hui Wang Martin, Ph.D.
Hui Wang Martin will teach the course of Survey of Asian Art in the Fall semester, 2016. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Kansas. Her major area for her Ph.D. studies was later Chinese Buddhist art, and her minor areas were Western collecting of Chinese art and later Chinese Buddhism. Recently she has submitted an article to Artibus Asiae. She was the recipient of Harvard-Yenching Doctoral Scholarship from Harvard University and the Doctoral Research Scholarship from the Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies, Kyoto, Japan. Before she moved to the United States to pursue her doctoral study, she held positions of assistant professor and lecturer in the Department of Eastern Art and Culture at Nankai University, Tianjin, China, where she received her B. A. and M. A. in Museum Studies.
Paula Rose, a lecturer in the School of Liberal Arts, has a master’s degree in art history from the University of Kansas and a B.F.A. degree in painting and art history from KCAI. Her areas of specialization include modern and contemporary art, popular culture and feminist art and theory. She has taught at KCAI since 2008.
Michele Valentine is an adjunct professor with the Kansas City Art Institute, Metropolitan Community College, and Kansas City Kansas Community College. She works at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art as the Local Program Coordinator for the Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship and the Department Assistant for South and Southeast Asian Art. Michele earned an MA degree in Art History from the University of Missouri–Kansas City in 2010. She specializes in art of the ancient world with teaching interests in appropriation and spolia, gender, and technology.
Loren Whittaker is a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas, where she also earned her M.A.Her major area of interest is Italian Renaissance Art, with minor areas of concentration in Roman Art and Archaeology of the Augustan period, and American Art (1865-1945). From UMKC, she holds a B.A., summa cum laude, in art history and history, with minors in German and Ancient Classical Studies. Loren has presented at annual conferences for the Renaissance Society of America (San Diego) and for the International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, MI). At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,she was a research assistant for the American and Native American Art departments. Prior to teaching at KCAI, she taught at Rockhurst University (2 years) and at KU (6 years), both on campus and abroad in Italy and France. In her life before art history, Loren danced and choreographed professionally in Europe, Las Vegas, South America, and Asia, and taught Jazz dance at the Conservatory of Music andDance at UMKC.
This abbreviated class listing is a snapshot of core courses students will take as they progress from sophomore to senior year. For additional electives and liberal arts courses, download the complete course catalog.
Art History Major Requirements:
- Ancient Art or Medieval Art History
- Renaissance Art or Baroque Art History
- Modern Art History
- Contemporary Art History
- Global/Comparative Art History
- Art History Seminar
- (2) Additional Upper-Division Courses in Art History
Professional practice seminars are a compulsory part KCAI’s undergraduate program. The seminars introduce students to world-renowned visiting artists and other arts professionals, who present lectures, demonstrations and engage with students in interactive, hands-on critiques and workshops.
Many artists visit the art history studios each year to share their knowledge and inspiration with KCAI students. Here are a few that have recently stopped by:
Mark Newport, Jerry Bleem, Dennis Doordan, Mey-Yen Moriuchi, Lisa Saltzman, Sarah Rich, Joshua Shannon, and Cristina Albu.