Beth Campbell '24 BA Art History

Beth Campbell says if there was just one subject she could study for the rest of her life, it would be Art History. She found a way to do that at UNC Greensboro’s School of Art: 

“I’m from New Jersey—came to North Carolina about ten years ago. I have worked most of my life in healthcare, most recently at Duke Medical Center in an administrative medical assistant position. COVID made me rethink what I really wanted to do. I always regretted not having a college degree, so I found UNCG’s Bachelor of Liberal Studies program.” 

Campbell began the BLS online and realized she could add a minor in Art History. Professor of Art History Heather Holian encouraged her to pursue her interest in art and become a double major: 

 “Art History is really my love. I love it because it encompasses all the humanities. There’s history, there are the biographies of the artists, the background of their lives, and the geography of where they lived. There’s so much more to it than just the art itself.” 

 Campbell says North Carolina feels like home and so does UNCG’s School of Art: 

 “It’s been so good. Professors and staff here have been supportive and encouraging. As an older student, I had a lot of apprehension when I started taking classes in person. But the students—my fellow classmates— have also been accepting and supportive. I can’t think of a single interaction that hasn’t been overwhelmingly positive.” 

 Since starting at UNCG, Campbell has fully immersed herself in art. She has focused on her classes and works as a docent at the Ackland Museum in Chapel Hill. And she’s about to take her studies to Italy with Dr. Holian, her faculty mentor, who told her about a grant that would help her get there: 

 “There is such a close relationship between the professors and the students. They know what you’re interested in, but what surprised and impressed me is how they really look for opportunities that fit what you’re trying to do. You’re not doing this alone.” 

With Dr. Holian’s support, Campbell wrote a three-page proposal about research she wanted to conduct in Florence during a four-week study abroad program with the School of Art. As a result, she won a 2024 Undergraduate Research and Creativity Award to do the onsite research for her project, “Envisioning the Virgin’s Assumption in Renaissance Florence: Reflections of Religious and Private Patronage”:  

 “I’ll be studying depictions of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and looking at how the different portrayals reflect not only the artists’ personal styles but also the wishes and intentions of their patrons. The artists I’ll focus on are Rosso Fiorentino, Andrea del Sarto, and Domenico Ghirlandaio. I enjoy these artists. But what is interesting to me is seeing how the depictions are different because of their patrons—differences that might be very slight—and how they were meant to influence the public. The Assumption of the Virgin is not necessarily referenced in the Bible, so artists had free rein on how to depict it.” 

 The School of Art’s Summer Study Abroad includes 32 students. Each week they will spend two days in class in museums and churches in Florence. Two days will be allotted for independent research, and Friday through Sunday will be free for travel to other parts of the country: 

 “I went to Italy six years ago with my son and visited Florence, Venice, and Rome. It’s always been my dream to go back. I saw many works of art then, but now I will be going back with different eyes. I’ll view them so differently after having studied them. I know it will be a completely different experience.” 

 Campbell says she is grateful for the opportunity provided by the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Award and the UNCG School of Art: 

 “The benefits of a study abroad program are countless. No matter how many photographs of paintings or other works you look at, there is no way you can absorb it and appreciate it like you can from seeing it in person. There is also such value in immersing yourself in the culture. It’s a life-changing experience. You don’t come back the same person.” 

 In addition to Art History, Campbell loves travel, hiking, and reading. She took up mah-jongg recently and learned that she loves to draw: 

 “I’m happy that you are required to take two studio classes as an Art History major. It’s really pushed me, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I think one of the best things I’ve learned though is that you should follow your heart. Don’t let anything whether it’s age or ability—such as if you don’t think you can draw—get in your way. Don’t let your insecurities or fears stop you from trying. Because you don’t know what you can do until you try.” 

 After graduation, Campbell says she’d like to continue working in a museum or in art education and possibly pursue a graduate degree and continue her research. 

Story by Terri W Relos

Photo credit: Keith Campbell