Digging Into Art History

Digging Into Art History


Art history students of Mary DeMaine say they enjoy the fact that they have an instructor who is "living the work." DeMaine conducts research in Emona, Slovenia, a site that was built literally over the top of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

She travels to Emona every summer to conduct research on the glass that was placed into Emonian graves, usually tableware such as cups, beakers and bowls. "No one has yet been able to ascertain the reason the vessels were included in with the burial items," DeMaine said.

The glasswork included in the graves, for whatever reason, is definitely an art that reflects that time and culture, DeMaine believes, and she is anxious to share knowledge of that art form. She has presented in Amsterdam at the International Association for the History of Glass and conducted a three-day seminar on ancient glass production for archaeology students at the University of Ljubljana recently.

"She is a teacher who is extremely involved in a very real way with her topic," Ron Verdon, art and design department chair, said of DeMaine. "To be able to genuinely appreciate art, knowledge of the history is valuable."

DeMaine is also involved in a distance learning endeavor to further the understanding of art history. She, Sally Bowker and Jane Merks are creating a CD-ROM that will be used in UW-Stout classes and will be available via computer to students throughout the UW System. It will also be offered to technical colleges and vocational schools.

"It's exciting to help students come to a new appreciation of art," DeMaine said. "And through distance education, even more people can be reached."

Claudia Smith is the other art historian in the department. While Smith is extremely busy as president of the faculty senate, she also teaches several courses in the art and design department. Smith too has authored a CD-ROM and has participated in archaeological digs.

"Everybody thinks excavating is really glamorous, but it's hard work," Smith said. "Occasionally people do make fantastic finds, but you're out there looking not for the fantastic find but rather for what the common objects can tell you." Smith and DeMaine say they have spent a lot of time "just going through dirt."

Smith, like DeMaine, has made a CD-ROM. Smith's product is being sold commercially as a study and teaching tool. Three publishers contacted Smith here at UW-Stout to obtain publishing rights, and the CD-ROM was tested at Dartmouth and Cornell colleges.

She too is excited about distance education, but she also enjoys working with UW-Stout students, as does DeMaine. "We attract some exceptional art students here," she said, "as good as they are anywhere."

Outlook Spring '96