Art History

Studying art history at an art college is inherently 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 a deep understanding of media, technique and the dynamics of art making in tandem with the history and theories of art.

The art historical discourse is often interpreted through methods and materials. Recognizing this fact led us to include artist studio practice and education as part of the curriculum. Investigating art history within the context of a studio-based environment provides insights 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.

Full-time Faculty

Michele Fricke, M.F.A.

The Ray Beagle Chair 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.


Steve Cromwell

Associate Professor

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.

Associate Professor in Art History

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 Art History and Asian Studies Programs

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.



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

Double Major in Art History & Studio practice Requirements

Art History Major & Studio Minor requirements



Professional Practice

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.

Visiting Artists

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.