Focused on More than just the history of art
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 02:02
Ever since his parents convinced him to enroll in his high school’s art history course, Jeffrey Schrader has been hooked on the subject. Unlike so many undecided freshmen out there, he’s known his calling since before he stepped foot on a campus.
Since the field of art history is so vast every scholar specializes in a particular period or region. Schrader’s specialty is Spain, with a further emphasis in the Baroque era, as well as Latin America.
“I started my undergraduate degree studying Renaissance art, but, after studying abroad in Spain for six months, I changed my focus to that region. The Italian Renaissance is a painfully over-worked field. There is little here about the Spanish, despite a colorful history of beautiful art,” said Schrader.
Schrader cited the frescoes by Fran-cisco Goya in the church of San Antonio de la Florida in Madrid as his favorite work, as well as the atmospheric seascapes of James McNeill Whistler and the color field paintings by Mark Rothko for their captivating, vibrant surfaces, he said.
But his interest in art history extends beyond just the artwork. Schrader’s past research has focused not solely on the content of images or the artists themselves, but on audience responses to particular works of art. Miraculous images of Spanish monarchs are an emphasis of this research.
For his students, though, Schrader wants to make the history accessible. “Most of my students make art, and I want them to be able to use art history as an inspiration for their own work, mining past artists for raw materials,” he said.
As an example, Schrader used the mural hanging above Lord Farquad’s bed in a Shrek film, which includes a parody of Botticelli’s Birth Of Venus, for a lecture.
He also turned to Borofsky’s large white dancers outside of the Denver Center for Performing Arts along Speer as a prime example of Cycladic art, showing that inspiration can take many forms.
And Schrader can find inspiration in his own teaching, too; it is as valuable an experience for Schrader as it is for his students. “Not only do I get to share my passion with the students, but they constantly see things that I don’t see. I’m always learning,” he said.
And he has continued to learn throughout his life. Schrader had meningitis in his infancy, rendering him almost completely deaf. He relies on lip reading, but doesn’t let it affect his teaching.
Outside of teaching, Schrader is currently working on a book, which will compile a variety of essays on El Greco, for the 400 year anniversary of his death on Apr. 7, 2014.
Other than art history, Jeffrey Schrader has a soft spot for animals. “If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would go into animal rehabilitation. Learning how to take care of animals that are sick or hurt would be great,” he said.
Currently, Schrader doesn’t have time for such dreaming, though, as he teaches by day, works on his book by night, and is striving to achieve tenureship.
But this doesn’t faze Schrader, who came from doctoral studies in New York and various other teaching positions around the country before settling in Denver, “I feel so lucky,” he said, “to come and work in a big city that’s full of great art and great people.”