Application to Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) Fall 2022 is closing down soon – but seats to the school’s Art History programme are still available. 

The four-year bachelor’s programme is growing in relevance in Qatar due to its ability to connect the history of art and cultural production to today’s expanding cultural industry and landscape.

Recent graduate Sharifa Belal, who graduated from VCUarts Qatar in May 2021, shares her experience and sets the record straight as to what students gain from the major, and why the programme is a solid choice as basis for a rewarding career.

Art History connects with all the visuals, illustrations, buildings, paintings, basically all our surroundings. It challenges us to analyse and interpret objects and artwork created in a specific time or era.

She shared that she was drawn to the subject, as she has always been intrigued by how people use art and design to capture moments around them, ordinary and extraordinary, for posterity.

To me, everything I see around me is part of that history – every person and place has evolved, and is defined, through visual or verbal representations of their pasts.

She said that choosing to study the subject has been one of the best decisions she has taken so far, because it’s given her a better appreciation of human behaviour, specifically, and of humanity, in general.

According to the VCUarts Qatar alumna, the subject has adapted to include evolving methodologies, and in the process, has become truly cross-disciplinary, offering students across the globe a curriculum that equips them with a skill set well-suited to meet the needs of a modern digitised workforce and the burgeoning creative industries.

VCUarts Qatar art history programme 2

Belal explained that the current digitised economy calls for high levels of emotional intelligence, attention to detail, a deep understanding of human behaviour, empathy, critical thinking, analytical skills, and communication skills.

Art History – through its rigorous dissection of human creativity in the context of each period in history – teaches you all that. The diversity of skills is reflected in the range of jobs recent graduates hold – we’re film makers, educators, curators, critics, art writers, design innovators, archivists, heritage conservationists, policy makers and government advisers.

These skills, according to her, shaped the way she thinks and acts.

Belal also points to how, with its growing prominence as a hub for cultural tourism, fine art and design, there has never been a better time to study Art History in Qatar. Considerable investment in art and creative practice has given residents in Qatar even more access to events, workshops and exhibitions, affording them an opportunity to look at significant art and design.

In Qatar, she said that people love to see history represented in art.

As Art Historians, we see each generation of artists and designers explore this duality; and we encourage this.

Msheireb Downtown Doha is a notable example of a modern take on Qatar’s artistic heritage. It is a mix of both the past and present, an opportunity for residents to reflect on heritage and visualise the changes that have taken place.

To find out more about the Art History programme or to apply for Fall 2022, send an email to [email protected]. Applications will be closing soon.

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