As an undergraduate in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to study original works of art at the National Gallery and was enthralled by their collection of Italian Renaissance art. Italian Renaissance art is now my specialty, and I teach a range of courses at Randolph including Ancient, Medieval, and Baroque art, as well as Museum Studies. The interdisciplinary approach that framed my undergraduate education in Renaissance Studies still informs my teaching and research, and some of my favorite classes are those I co-teach with colleagues, such as Masterworks of Greek and Roman Art, a course that combines the perspectives of archaeology and art history.
The study of art and the material of our cultural patrimony has never been more critical to our lives as citizens. My students learn how to reconstruct the original meaning of works of art and architecture while being encouraged to consider their roles as historians and challenged to pose new questions. The skills gained in critical thinking and writing, in addition to the ability to read and discern meaning in our visual environment, are some of the powerful tools gained in the study of art history that serve our students well in all their future occupations.
I am dedicated to getting students in front of original works of art and take students on field trips to all sorts of museums, both in our area and in nearby cities such as Richmond and Washington. My favorite course culminates in a two-week study tour in Italy; it is a great joy for me to witness students experience the power of Italian art in a way that can never be matched in the classroom.
My research interests include fifteenth-century Sienese art and culture, the subject of a current book project, and issues of patronage and iconography in Venetian painting and sculpture, which will be explored in two future projects.
"I became an artist in New York City. I lived and worked in a loft in lower Manhattan. I could not wait to finish school before diving into the art world. While I was still in undergraduate school I had my first gallery show on 57th street at the Jock Truman Gallery.
"I steeped myself in the galleries and museums and studios that I visited. Making art, showing it, looking at the work of other artists and having endless conversations about art, all contributed to my growth as an artist.
"That is why I say that I am an artist that teaches, not a teacher who makes art. The distinction is important in that it points to my background as a professional artist and what this background brings to my teaching. I want my students to step into art as deeply as they want to. I will be there to support and encourage them and hopefully to help them stand in awe as I have stood so often."
Kathy Muehlemann earned a B.F.A. from State University of New York. She has also studied fresco painting in Italy.
Her work has been represented and shown in one-person exhibitions both in New York galleries, including the Pamela Auchincloss Gallery and the Virginia Zabriskie Gallery, as well as in museums such as the Contemporary Museum (Honolulu), the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Hyde Collection, the Lannan Museum, the Maier Museum of Art, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Her work has been included in more than one hundred group exhibitions in the United States and abroad. Her work is in the collections of American museums including the Ackland Art Museum, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Contemporary Museum (Honolulu, Hawaii), the Grey Art Gallery (New York University), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Miami), and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Kathy has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation ,and she was awarded a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome in 1988.
My research and teaching interests are in modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on identity, feminism, activism, and abstraction in art since 1960. Currently, I am completing an article that examines the intersection of ethics and aesthetics in two installations by the contemporary Colombian artist Doris Salcedo. I'm also finalizing a paper on a series of reliefs by the American artist Lee Bontecou. I have presented my research at the Feminist Art History Conference, the Annual Conference of the College Art Association, the Asians in the Americas Conference, and the Association of Art Historians Annual Conference in Norwich, England.
At Randolph, I teach 19th-century European Art, Modern European Art, American Art and Architecture, and the second half of the survey of Western Art. Special topics that I plan to teach include "Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Art", "Art and Activism since 1960," and "African American Art from Colonialism to the Present".
I try to make the course material relevant to students and encourage them to develop their own perspectives on the subjects we investigate together. My approach to teaching stems from my belief in the power of students' voices to co-construct the learning experience within the college classroom. This commitment to integrating student voice in the classroom closely aligns with my scholarly interests in issues of identity. I also have a graduate degree in fine arts and this training has furthered my commitment to keeping the work of art central to the study of art history. All of my courses take advantage of the resources at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College. The Maier's outstanding collection and exhibitions make Randolph College an exceptional institution at which to study (and to teach!) the history of art.
When students complete my courses, I hope they are more confident in their abilities to ask important questions that are meaningful to them, to think and read critically and carefully, and to listen and look with a more open mind than when they arrived. These skills are relevant to all of the disciplines that they encounter in a liberal arts education and support a life-long love of learning. When I'm not teaching or writing, I enjoy painting and drawing, running, reading the New Yorker and cookbooks, traveling, and spending time with my family.