Teaching about art history and the visual world is Sarah Ruthven’s passion.

MCC Instructor Sarah Ruthven interacting with art students

MCC Instructor Sarah Ruthven interacting with art students.

“Some people are passionate about something and then go to their jobs. I am passionate about my job. I get to talk about what I love all day long,” said Sarah Ruthven, who has taught art history full-time at MCC for nine years.

“I like the interaction with students. When I introduce something complicated and I guide them through the material and all of a sudden, it clicks for them, that’s a privileged thing to be a part of.”

Ruthven originally studied elementary education in college, but she changed her major to art history after becoming inspired by a memorable, eccentric, and well-traveled female professor. The professor shared slides of her travels around the world, including standing in front of pyramids and other historic sites and landmarks.

“There was something so fascinating, so romantic about it. She saw a history that most people don’t ever see.”

The coolest thing about art history, Ruthven said, is learning about a variety of areas, such as history, politics, nature and putting them all together.

“Our focus is getting students to understand how to analyze and interpret the work. I teach students how to think through an image rather than memorize the style, for example."

Some students may not share her same passion, so she often infuses pop culture and familiar movie characters and personal narratives to help students stay engaged.

In addition to teaching art history, Ruthven co-teaches a Learning Communities class that combines Eastern philosophy and Non-Western art; she teaches a survey course called Humanities through the Arts and for the first time in the fall, she will teach Introduction to Art Education (ART 170) for anyone considering a career as an art teacher. Students will interact and/or observe children of different ages, learn art making, lesson plan writing and experience diverse art teaching methods.

Ruthven is currently working on her second master’s degree online, in modern art history and criticism from Azusa Pacific University. She earned her Associate in Arts degree from Southwest Community College in San Diego, her Bachelor of Arts degree in art history from the University of San Diego and her Master of Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


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