Taking one look at the transcript for my four-year Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in History, there are definitely some interesting courses that helped me earn it:
- Forestry 100
- Computer Science 100
- Educational Psychology 120
- Latin America Studies 342 (a personal favorite to this day)
My course selection certainly exploited the “liberal” in the liberal Arts degree.
Yet, if you look slightly closer, you’ll unearth a gem of a course called Art History 100. A rare gem indeed.
It’s certainly not out of place for a History degree. However, I didn’t think it would be as incredibly prosaic and boring as it was considering the centuries of artistic creativity on display every class.
I still remember the day I chose Art History 100.
I had the best intentions.
“My girlfriend loves art and I love learning about history. This is gonna be a great course; a potential diamond in the rough,” my internal monologue said to convince me. And it worked: Utterly, entirely and absolutely.
I’ll admit right now that my internal monologue was wrong. I was wrong. Dead wrong.
It was a gem alright, but not a diamond in the rough. It was more like chalcanthite, which is highly toxic to humans.
If you wanted a decent nap, Art History 100 was the course to take.
The professor would typically send their teaching assistant, who would turn the lights down low as they relentlessly presented slide after ruthless slide of pictures of art on the giant screens.
Some of the art in the photos were masterpieces — Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rembrandt, van Gogh — but most of it was not.
They were photos of art. It was like watching an old auntie’s slideshow of the vacation they took to Graceland in 1981. It would have been better to be there and see it for yourself.
Plus, the humdrum narrative recited over top was enough to put even the wildest insomniac to the most restful of sleeps in a meadow of student-filled seats in the Tory turtle (see: Tory Lecture) at the University of Alberta.
Yet, I reflect warmly on that course. It’s the only course my wife and I have in common on our university transcripts.
Being a Bachelor of Fine Arts major, Art History was mandatory for her. And her experience of the course — two years after I had taken it — was starkly and unsurprisingly juxtaposed with mine.
My textbook was still brand new when she first cracked it open; might’ve even been in the shrink wrap still.
Probably because she didn’t have to shell out $180 for the three-inch thick textbook I loaned her. It was still brand new when she first cracked it open; might’ve even been in the shrink wrap still.
Notwithstanding the quality shut eye and the useless, 9-pound, 1,187-page textbook I acquired through my ill-fated Art History delusion; my future wife was finding inspiration and some of her favorite artists. Several of whom have inspired her through the years.
In the end, I’m grateful that as different, as opposite as we might seem to be, it’s often these small pieces of our past that connect us, provide a joint foundation to discuss her passion (or write about it), and continue to intertwine themselves throughout our life together.