APU’s Modern Art History Program Welcomes Director by Way of Smithsonian

by Claire Holstead ’17

The National Gallery of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Smithsonian. These museums are among the most recognizable art destinations in the world. For Angela George, Ph.D., each has also been part of a remarkable career as an art historian, professor, and curator. Now, George is bringing her expertise from these legacy institutions to Azusa Pacific’s Online Master of Arts in Modern Art History program, one of the only online graduate art history programs in the nation to focus exclusively on 19th- and 20th-century art movements.

George comes to APU with recent experience directing a prestigious academic program—the Smithsonian Institution’s master’s degree program in history of decorative arts, offered in partnership with George Mason University. “In that program, we used the Smithsonian collections as our learning laboratory,” said George. “I personally learned a lot about how graduate programs work. Here at APU, I apply those lessons to continue growing and cultivating the master’s in modern art history.”

George earned her M.A. in History of Decorative Arts and Design from Parsons School of Design in New York and her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Maryland, where she was mentored by Sally Promey, Ph.D., a noted expert in art history, religion, and visual culture who now teaches at Yale. “I originally thought I was going to go into a curatorial career, but as a graduate student, I worked with undergraduates as a teaching assistant, and I just loved it,” said George. “I felt really called to work with students, to be a mentor, and to nurture future scholars.” George brings more than 15 years of teaching experience to APU, where she is also an assistant professor of art history.

Before stepping into a faculty role in academia, George held curatorial positions at several major institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art, and the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden. That perspective enriches the way she teaches and guides students, especially those interested in curatorial careers. “I have a good understanding of the field and where you can go professionally with this degree,” she said.

George’s research interests in religion and American art create an additional opportunity for dialogue with graduate students around the intersection of faith and art. “Faith is the lens that I am looking at the world through,” she said. “Faith is also a major component to artistic creation, historically and even today. Because so much artwork deals with deep issues of faith and how we understand the world, having that be a component of the classes we teach is important to me and to the mission of APU.”

Anticipating new opportunities and growth for APU’s modern art history program, George said she is eager to guide its development and provide students more avenues to reach their education goals. “Our program is one of very few in the country that you can get fully online, which is great, because one of the challenges with graduate education is access,” she said. “If you are a working person, you can’t drop everything in your life to complete graduate school. I’m really committed to sustaining the accessible, flexible design of the degree, while ensuring a quality academic experience.” Already, the program is one of the farthest reaching at APU, with students from across the U.S. able to attend through the online format. “APU is graduating students who have not only a strong foundation in art history,” said George, “but also the tools to go on to the next stage of their careers.”