Jonathan Field: The artist as historian





Anyone who thinks art history isn’t intimately related to studio practice hasn’t talked to Jonathan Field, Ph.D.

Field, an art history professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design, also is a practicing artist devoted to interdisciplinary perspectives.

“There has always been a crossover in my mind between understanding the history and theory of art and the practical problems of making it,” he said. “History is not separate from making art; I see it all as very interconnected.”

In fact, Field chose to earn his Ph.D. at Lancaster University in his native England because the program there allowed him to combine history and theory with practice. His dissertation was about contemporary painter Gerhard Richter, and his thesis exhibition included both painting and photography.

“In my career as a teacher I’ve worked both in the studio and in the lecture theater,” said Field, who taught in the art departments at Coventry and Preston universities in England before joining the SCAD faculty in Fall 1999. “Wherever possible, I like to cross boundaries if I can.”

He encourages his students to explore the connections between their work and the ideas and artists they study in their art history courses.

“I ask students to bring in their studio practice, and I take them to exhibitions around town to apply what they are learning in class,” he said. “I encourage students to think about where their own disciplines might interact with others, such as history and literature … What goes on out there in the world is very much a resource for them to use to inform their work.”

He teaches a variety of art history courses, from Survey of Western Art II to graduate-level Contemporary Art and Art Criticism, and said he enjoys various aspects of each. In the graduate classes, he helps students relate their own work to trends in contemporary theory and criticism. For undergraduates, he provides them with a context in which to ground themselves as artists....


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