Tracing the Art Curriculum at Elmhurst

Graphic design major combs through College archives in sesquicentennial research project

Taylor Lutz ’19

The art department at Elmhurst College began in 1936 with a single class in art history. It would take until the middle of the 20th century for the College to add art as a major.

These are some of the findings by Taylor Lutz ’19, who is researching the history and development of visual art studies on campus with art professor Lynn Hill under the Creative and Scholarly Endeavors (CASE) program. CASE fellows work on a scholarly or creative project under the supervision of a faculty mentor and earn a stipend.

The Art@150 project is tied to the College’s upcoming sesquicentennial in 2021. “This will enable the College to look back at its history through the lens of visual art,” Lutz said. It will also create a template for future research on the College’s history.

Hill said Art@150 stems from a short-term project she did with first-year students in 2015. “I began thinking about a longer-term undertaking that would use primary sources from the College’s archive,” she said. “Even the faculty in the Department of Art had no idea how visual art evolved on this campus.”

A graphic design major from Decatur, Mich., Lutz has been combing through the archives at the A.C. Buehler Library, including yearbooks and newspapers. “Books document the curriculum back to 1878,” she said. “It’s surprisingly detailed.”

Lutz, who plans to pursue a career as a graphic designer, said she will upload her research findings to Shared Shelf, a searchable online database that is a component of ArtStor. All Art@150 information will be available to the College community; some will be accessible to all institutions using ArtStor. Some information will become public as part of the Digital Public Library of America.

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