Global art history, AP to UNCG

Posted on January 26, 2021

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woman with African pot
Associate professor of art history Elizabeth Perrill with a work of art that is now part of the NC Museum of Art’s African Art Gallery

Elizabeth Perrill, associate professor in UNC Greensboro’s School of Art, was nominated by the AP board to create a video master class that supports the AP Art History Exam in 2021.

In response to the pandemic and the changing needs of students and educators, the College Board partnered with professors from more than 200 universities, to provide free, online AP Daily videos available to millions of students around the world pursuing college-level coursework. Perrill’s video lecture will be viewed by over 25,000 students studying at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although around 25,000 students will take the AP exam in art history, it is still considered a developing course. In Perrill’s previous work with AP as a Development Board member, she witnessed the shift toward a global history model that includes a greater focus on African, Middle Eastern, Asian, and indigenous American art.

A scholar of African art and curator of the NC Museum of Art’s African Art Gallery, Perrill was invited to speak on the essential artwork list and to include expanded works in her master class. Among the works she chose were the Great Mosque at Djenne, Mali, the rock cut churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia, and the capital city of Great Zimbabwe, all of which she discusses in her video lecture.

Perrill says she has enjoyed working with AP specifically because of the growing global diversity emphasis that is similar to the growth in UNCG’s art history program, which now has experts in several diverse areas, including Latina/Latino/Latinx, Indigenous, and Trans-Atlantic arts.

“It’s not the art history of a generation ago, which is kind of exciting,” she says.

Perrill hopes that the information she shares about African Art in the AP Daily video will give future college students a glimpse of UNCG art history studies. She sees a bright future for the field generally, with a diverse population of students becoming interested in art history, and pairing the discipline with others, such as African American and African Diasporic Studies.

“We’re always talking about how our field needs to change,” she says. “And I think UNCG students help us look at the discipline differently. I also hope that by reaching pre-college students through the AP Daily video, showing my enthusiasm, and showing the breadth of art history, I will help make it more accessible and more appealing to a diverse younger generation.”

See Perrill’s video master class here.

Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications


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