Penn-Goetsch participating in European art seminar

Cornell College art history professor Christina Penn-Goestch is one of 23 professors selected to take part in a weeklong seminar, “The Art of Storytelling in French Painting and Sculpture 1600–1850,” sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges.

Christina Penn-Goetsch, professor of art history
Christina Penn-Goetsch, professor of art history

Penn-Goestch is one of a select group of faculty members nationwide chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges to participate in the seminar, which will be hosted by the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon, July 20–24, 2015. The seminar is designed for full-time faculty members who regularly teach art history at smaller colleges and universities and aims to strengthen the teaching of art history to undergraduates at these institutions.

CIC selected 23 faculty members to participate in the seminar, which is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Two eminent scholars will lead the program: Dawson Carr, Janet and Richard Geary Curator of European Art at the Portland Art Museum, and Mary Tavener Holmes, an independent scholar specializing in French art of the 17th and 18th centuries.

“Strengthening the teaching of art history at colleges and universities—many of which have limited faculty resources in art history—is critical,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The seminar will have significant value for the faculty members who participate, the colleagues with whom they will share their new knowledge, and the students who enroll in their courses.”

Utilizing the strong collection of French painting and sculpture in Portland, the seminar will examine not only the more obvious manifestations of French storytelling in historical and religious imagery, but also the more nuanced introduction of message and story into portraiture and the so-called “lesser” genres. The seminar also will explore objects included in the special exhibition, “Gods and Heroes: Masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris.” This show features works ranging from antiquities and Old Master prints to major paintings, sculptures, and drawings by the greatest artists of France, including Nicholas Poussin, Charles Le Brun, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jean-Antoine Houdon, Jacques-Louis David, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Throughout the seminar, participating faculty members will have the opportunity to hone and share educational strategies for visual analysis, conversation, slow looking, and digital interpretation.

Much of Penn-Goetsch’s  research focuses on gender studies and the art and architecture of early modern Europe, as well as questions of identity in contemporary art. The latter area includes a passionate interest in Native American art, African art, and art of the African Diaspora. She often lectures and publishes on depictions of women from the 14th through the 20th centuries and continues to present her research on the lives of nuns as patrons in 17th-century Rome. She regularly leads course trips to study the art and architecture of Rome, and was a study leader for Smithsonian Journey tours to Sicily and Southern Italy in 2013-14.

One of the 40 “Colleges That Change Lives,” Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, is a national liberal arts college with a distinctive One Course At A Time curriculum. The One Course schedule provides students the chance to dive into their studies, focus more intensely on the disciplines of their choice, and learn authentically with the unique freedom to shed the confines of the traditional classroom to study off-campus, pursue research, or accept an internship—all without missing out on other classes. Cornell has been recognized by numerous publications for the value its education offers and for academic excellence. This year it was named of the 100 best values in liberal arts education by Kiplinger’s, one of the “Best Value Schools” among national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report, and one of the 100 Affordable Elite Colleges by Washington Monthly. Ninety-three percent of Cornell graduates earn their degrees in four years. In 2013 Cornell was named one of the 25 colleges with the best professors by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. For more information, visit

The Council of Independent Colleges is an association of 750 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society. CIC is the major national organization that focuses on providing services to leaders of independent colleges and universities as well as conferences, seminars, and other programs that help institutions improve educational quality, administrative and financial performance, and institutional visibility. CIC conducts the largest annual conference of college and university presidents. CIC also provides support to state fundraising associations that organize programs and generate contributions for private colleges and universities. The Council is headquartered at One Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit the CIC website at

Founded in 1892, the Portland Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in the United States and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. The museum’s collection of 42,000 objects reflects the history of art from ancient times to today. The collection is distinguished for its holdings of arts of the native peoples of North America; modern and contemporary art; Asian and American art; photographs, prints, and drawings; and English silver. With more than 112,000 square feet of gallery space, the Portland Art Museum ranks in the top 25 museums in the country with the most gallery and exhibition space.