Sophia Farmer, Ph.D., recently joined the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith as the new art history professor for the Art and Graphic Design Department.
Dr. Farmer, could you give some background information about yourself?
I completed my B.A. at the University of Toronto in 2012, and both my M.A. in 2014 and Ph.D. in 2019 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have received pre- and post-doctoral fellowships from the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, the Wolfsonian–Florida International University in Miami, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University in New Haven, and the Center for Italian Modern Art in New York. After living in so many places for my research, I look forward to settling into Fort Smith!
What role does the study of art history play in the development of visual artists and designers?
It’s essential for the development of visual artists and designers. Students often find inspiration in the art of the past and present and, more importantly, it helps them to recognize the power of art. Works of art and design that transgress linguistic boundaries offer an opportunity to understand communities and peoples very different from our own.
Art history covers a diverse range of subjects. What attracted you to your research?
When I was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, I spent a year abroad at the University of Siena in Italy. I took many classes but was particularly intrigued by the dark history of the Fascist State. Using aesthetics to promote the ideology of the regime, Fascist Italy supported a diverse cultural and artistic production of both modern and traditional styles and subjects. While these artworks remain controversial, I believe that the study of them brings a greater understanding to oppressive political regimes and can help us to combat them today.
What made you chose UAFS as a place to continue your teaching?
As an undergraduate I did a double major in art history and visual studies (art practice), and I am drawn to the idea of merging the two disciplines in my teaching practice. The Art and Design Department not only offers me the opportunity to do so, but also as the sole art history professor, this position gives me the liberty to teach a wide range of classes.
Anything else you would like to add?
I am greatly looking forward to being a part of the UAFS faculty and community and look forward to getting to know the campus and region better!
This column is produced by the River Valley Art Coalition, whose mission is to inform citizens and visitors of fine art exhibitions and education opportunities in Fort Smith and the surrounding region, while also highlighting people who make the local art scene such a vibrant and important part of the community. To send comments or for more information on the River Valley Art Coalition, contact [email protected].
ART THIS WEEK:
Fort Smith Regional Art Museum
1601 Rogers Ave., Fort Smith
- “David Malcolm Rose: The Lost Highway”: Miniature scale models of businesses and paintings of properties long forgotten along the Lost Highway; on view Sept. 24.
- “Selections from RAM’s Permanent Collection” on view through Sept. 26.
- “Dr. W.E. Knight Porcelain Gallery” in memory of Dr. Henry Udouj.
- Visit RAM’s online store at shop.fsram.org.
- Visit RAM’s YouTube Channel for classes, lectures and virtual exhibits.
- Visit fsram.org to see video tours and listen to podcasts by various artists.
Windgate Art & Design at UAFS
5210 Kinkead Ave., Fort Smith
- Permanent collection on view Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Center for Art & Education
104 N. 13th St., Van Buren
- “Atmosphere”: August gallery.
- “Clay Play”: Pottery projects for adults and kids ages 5 and up; Aug. 23-27, 1-3 p.m.
- To view available classes and workshops and register online, visit art-ed.org .
- Visit art-ed.org to see virtual tours, artist demonstrations, community events and children’s summer art classes.