Susan Sivard

Aug 2020

TLDR: A very good, Art Hum section with a critical perspective on Western Art; straight-forward grading; not a breeze, but definitely not a hard class; 100% recommend. Susan does come off as rigid, but behind the black turtle-necks and austere exterior, she's a person who loves art and teaching. ALSO, she used to go to Studio 54 in its heyday and literally ran into Andy Warhol there once lmao. As mentioned below, I think she does a great job of critically addressing the problems with the way the Western canon of art is taught and the canonization of Western art generally. She really took time to consider questions of repatriation of stolen art (UK's Hellenistic art collections from Parthenon, in addition to other things they've stolen from the Global South), the appropriation of Congolese and central African art during the modern period (i.e. Picasso, Les Demoiselles D'Avignon), trauma porn (from Goya's "Los Desastres de la Guerra" to the Napalm Girl to photos from Abu Ghraib) and *so much* more. I felt like this was such an incredible class because she took the time to draw so many relevant questions out of what we were studying. She is really clear in what she wants and is a fair grader. However, while this class is not an easy A it, is not a hard A; you don't have to be a try-hard to get an A. As long as you participate in class, are able to memorize well (a significant caveat for some), and follow her instructions for papers you can do well.

Jan 2020

I agree with positive reviews below. At first you may perceive her as strict and formal, but you'll see that she genuinely cares about her students and their learning. She is very cognizant of the white male hegemony in arts but counterbalances it by including works by female artists or underrepresented minorities. Her lectures are clear and eloquent. Grading wise, Professor Sivard has clear expectations. Before you submit the paper, read the checklist she provides carefully--if you miss any minor requirements you will easily lose points. Overall fair grader, but not an easy A either. But, if you participate actively in class and memorize works for exams you should be fine. I've heard of many Art Hum professors who have absurd expectations or otherwise uncaring, so if you get Sivard you should consider yourself beyond blessed.

Dec 2017

Professor Sivard is hands-down a gold nugget––she really cares about her students. My experience in her class has given me a really meaningful understanding of art that has helped me understand society better, and links really well to the rest of the core. I think this is the section to take if you believe that the core can make your ways of interpreting knowledge more whole. The museum trips were probably my favorite part about the course, as we took time to look at female artists and artists of color who are left out of the curriculum. Dr. Sivard is quite cognizant of the fact that the curriculum is made up of white male artists, so she gives a lot of opportunities to think deeper about how marginalized people fit into our conception of history. My favorite segment looked at the female nude and the power-based implications these images have on the viewer.

Oct 2017

Take the review below with a grain of salt. While Sivard is an excellent lecturer (she's engaging and goes at a pretty good pace), she is a pretty tough grader. The reading isn't really light either, she has graded responses to the readings so you do have to do the readings and not just skim it. Wonder professor but not the easiest art hum professor.

Dec 2013

Professor Sivard was a wonderful teacher. She's very organized, clear, and good at getting students to participate. She balances being encouraging and receptive with challenging what you're saying, so you feel comfortable talking in class but know you can't do so vacuously without having to defend what you're saying. This brought out interesting and meaningful comments, though of course you always get Those People who are excessively pretentious without really saying anything at all. Prof. Sivard also had a good approach of questioning the Core's selection of artists/pieces/themes (no female artists, the racism implicit in primitivism, etc) in a productive way, which I appreciated. She's an extremely fair grader, too, and lets you revise your essays for a better grade based on her feedback, which was also helpful. She offered an optional tour of MoMA in addition to her required Met tour, which was helpful for me in becoming a more critical viewer of art rather than just someone who absorbs it. Overall, I feel like I really learned a lot and enjoyed this class a great deal. Highly recommended!