Faculty Profile: Daniel Connolly
With so much of his teaching focusing on what art is saying and why, you could easily call Daniel Connolly “The Art Whisperer.”
“Images communicate in a very direct fashion, and they are very influential in the way that they make us see and therefore think about the world,” says the art historian. “I think it’s important to study how images work, how they were created as a means of communication in order to understand both them and the people and societies who made and viewed them.”
But Connolly’s students don’t just have to take his words for it. In a recent Spring Term, he took students in an art history course to Paris to see (and hear!) the art for themselves.
“Instead of me just showing pictures in the classroom, we were able to see the original art we were studying, along with other artworks made at the same time,” he says. “Being there, students could learn both about 19th century and contemporary Paris. It therefore exposed the students to a different worldview; international travel helps students to be less isolated in the United States and learn that we are part of a larger world community.”
Even though Connolly, who also curates and directs the college’s Flora Kirsch Beck Art Gallery, knows how art speaks to him, he also understands that each of his students may see a painting, sculpture, or movement in a different way.
“As an educator at a liberal arts college, I’m not teaching my students what to learn, but how to learn,” he says. “I help my students learn how to ask the questions that lead them on to better answers, and how not to be satisfied with the easy answer, but rather to dig deeper and look at the issue in its complexity. To do that well requires, I feel, small classes and a personal relationship with your professor, like Alma offers.”