Hello, art history major here.
When I tell people what I’m studying, their eyes widen immediately. I’ve had some people be super supportive- “What’s your favorite period?” “You should visit Florence; it’s amazing!” “Art history really suits you.”
On the other hand: I was asked in a job interview why I would “choose a field that isn’t thriving.” I had to defend one of my most important life choices. At first, I could barely speak. (I turned down the job.)
When it comes to your major, everyone has an opinion. I’ve always been “the creative type.” If you don’t believe me, just raid my parents’ photo albums where you’ll find pictures of a tiny little me covered in paint. I was always making things- coloring on my poor parents’ walls, floors, books, furniture, and everything else I could get my hands on when they weren’t looking. I would see a piece of artwork on TV and try to replicate it. I stuck clay on pretty much all of my stuffed animals. I took scissors to my clothes and stickered every surface in my room. I don’t think one single person would have met me and said, “Future engineer right here.” Nope. I always colored outside the lines, and kids at my preschool made fun of me for that. Thanks, Ian. I bet you’re really good at math now.
Stepping off my soap box, though. There’s some conspiracy that STEM majors have a golden ticket to a high-paying job out of college. Do more people want to be ballerinas and pop stars than electrical engineers? Probably. But look at the skill of Leonardo and Michelangelo. That’s pretty important. Art is pretty important because people have made art since the beginning of time. We know what people were doing hundreds of years ago because of art. And they knew what they were doing, too. Perfect mathematical proportions, spot-on anatomy, advanced color theory. I’m majoring in that because I’m impressed. So impressed, in fact, that I’ve had sobbing breakdowns in front of artworks before because they’re that powerful. Given, math has made me cry, too, but for different reasons.
I’m not hating on science majors…more power to them, really. I wished for years that I could trade my talents for the gift of being a math whiz. Honest. I would have given up all the paints and pastels in the world to be able to understand calculus. But that wasn’t me, and no matter how hard I worked at math and science, art was my calling.
Some people will follow their passions, others will choose majors that lead to stable careers. I have yet to meet an art historian who is out of work.
Since committing to my art history major, I leave almost every class on the brink of tears because I’m so happy with my decision. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for any salary or any good grade on a math test.
Fellow art majors- you’re valued.