Professors outside the classroom

Posted by Sandy Zhang

Associate professor of Art History Mimi Hellman was raised in western Massachusetts and was educated at Smith College and Princeton University. Courses taught by Professor Hellman include "19th Century European Art", "Rococo Art" and "Design, Buzz: Visual Culture of Caffeine and Practices of Art History", her favorite course to teach.

Skidmore News: Why did you choose teaching at Skidmore over working in an arts organization?

Mimi Hellman: I have always loved teaching. I have two little sisters. When we were growing up we played school and I was always the teacher. That is why I wanted to be at Skidmore where teaching really matters.

SN: Most professors do not share their resumes with students; why do you do this and why do you think it is important?

MH: I think students should know where their professors come from intellectually. Students will have a much richer learning experience if they know about the scholarship activities that really shape what and how we teach. Our presence in the classroom is only a small part of who we are professionally.

SN: You received your bachelor's degree in Religion and minored in Art History as an undergraduate student.What motivated you to concentrate on Art History in graduate school?

MH: I took five years off between college and graduate school. I have always been interested in visual culture.

During that time I volunteered at the University of Massachusetts to teach continuing education classes about art. It was a breakthrough for me. I loved empowering students to feel knowledgeable about art.

SN: Any words of advice to students who are hesitant about taking an art history course?

MH: We live in a visually saturated world. I think it is powerful that you see the world in a different way when you learn skills in art history. Not only do you learn about art, but also I think it is more important that art history teaches you to look at things more critically. You become a savvy consumer of media.

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