Q&A with Fina Mooney

Photo of Fina Mooney in a graduation cap and gown in front of a brick wall.

Fina Mooney is a senior who is graduating this spring with a major in art history and two minors in museum and curatorial studies and Italian studies. In her time as an undergraduate, Fina has helped relaunch the art history club as vice president and participated in numerous undergraduate research opportunities including the UROP and DFRAC programs.  Fina will continue her interests in the history of art by pursing a master’s degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London this fall. As the office assistant to the Department of Art History, we recently spoke with her about her time in the program.

What were some of your favorite classes in the art history major?

This is a difficult question! Intro to Indian Art (Dr. Seastrand), Age of Curiosity (Dr. JB Shank), Chinese Painting (Dr. Greenberg), and Outsiders in American Art (Dr. Marshall) have been some of my absolute favorites. I have a hard time choosing just one because each class brings its own excitement and specialty. I genuinely enjoy learning a variety of geographies and time periods because I can explore new realms art history that broaden my perspectives. One of my favorite parts about this major is the flexibility to immerse yourself in differing topics that are taught by passionate and curious faculty. 

Why art history?

I started with a very early technical background in drawing and painting as a kid and pursued it very seriously in middle and high school. Always passionate about the subject of art and its history, I was introduced to the Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) at the University of Minnesota. I started taking courses at the U of M full time my junior year of high school, and absolutely fell in love with the subject of art history. I felt like everything I had learned and made in my practice of art was able to blossom in a classroom space that made me feel challenged, exited, driven, and inspired. Museums, some of my favorite places to be, and making art, something I’ve always loved to do, were represented through art history in a high-level learning environment.

Do you have any advice for other art history students?

Some advice I have for art history students is to get involved! The further along I progressed in my major, the more I realized how many wonderful opportunities and mentors I had around me. Starting up the art history club, participating in undergraduate research, studying abroad, visiting the rare libraries on campus, going to see exhibits at the galleries on campus, and being an assistant to the art history department is what made my undergraduate experience so special. As soon as I started to find a community of students, staff, and faculty who cultivated a strong and positive academic experience, I realized how much more I wanted to do even in my final semester of college!

The art history department is small but mighty. The smaller class sizes and close department of faculty and graduate students allows you to truly immerse yourself in the major, something you often don’t get in larger disciplines. I encourage students especially newer to the major to build those relationships, ask questions, go to office hours, start an independent research study, take a new topics course, and of course join the art history club!

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