Spotlight on Students

Here in the Department of History of Art, our students are always surprising us with their creativity and passion. To highlight this exceptional group, we’re hoping to shine some light on their achievements, both personally and within the department, through a series of testimonials. These focus on how they found History of Art, why they’ve decided on this as their major at Ohio State, and what has kept them motivated during their time as an undergraduate student.

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SYDNEY MILLER
Student Associate; American Indian and Indigenous Student Initiatives, Student Life Multicultural Center

History of Art
 (B.A. 2017)

Sydney Miller

What brought you to the History of Art Department? Or, why History of Art?
As a form of reclamation of my Native identity, I look to found objects and images to give life to my family’s oral history. Aside from looking at visual media, I have always found it crucial to find the context of an object in relation to its creator to properly honor its making. I chose History of Art because it gave me the opportunity and flexibility to look at the history of Mother Earth’s people beyond the written word in all its variances whether it is through hyperrealism, action works, or finding sanctuary in the minimalist. I was searching for a place to connect to stories and the artists who create them and as a student in the department, I can visit them beyond temporal and spatial limitations.

What have you discovered since joining this department?
Since joining the department, I have grown an appreciation for the various styles of interpretation. I used to be very hypercritical as well as isolated if someone viewed a work from a narrow mindset. By having the opportunity to work with people of all walks of life and scholarship daily, I have been able to find patience in myself as an educator and lover of art.

What captivates you may not be the same as someone else but it is thrilling to see what catches their eye.

Which classes were particularly helpful for you and your interests?
I will always say that I essentially found the History of Art department through my Art of China class. The previous major I was venturing was too conceptual for my taste so moving into a world that was multisensory, albeit limited to a projector and screen, was incredible fascinating. I always had a fascination for East Asian culture and with the addition of my Material and Techniques Class: Asia, I was on a consistent hunt for connections to my own culture. Not only was I able to explore my interest of avant-garde Chinese woodcuts during the 1930’s-40’s, but I was opened to the world of global indigeneity that can be found in many East Asian artists’ appreciation for materials and the presentation of the natural world.

How do you think you will be able to use the skills learned through this major for your future?
Looking to the future, I intend on working in multiple but similar spaces. As a growing artist, I have been inspired by various artists and styles from class that have helped me overcome the restrictions placed on many QPOC (queer people of color) artists through validating my story and method. As an art historian, my critical thinking and the encouragement from my instructors have pushed me to go deeper, find the root of what makes a work successful but also, how does the artist essentially put themselves in/onto the work, both figuratively and literally. Lastly, as an educator, the skills I have learned from my time in the classroom has affirmed my belief in compassionate, multisensory education. The use of images, sound, and text, can help a student grow holistically therefore removing the pressure of trying to get an “Invisible A,” by finding pride in their ability to use their new knowledge in all facets of their life.

Some work by Sydney:

Sydney Miller

Sydney Miller

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