Irene Soriano, Ph.D.
Professor of Art History & Ethnic Studies
I was born in El Paso, Texas of Mexican ancestry, grew up bilingually in Spanish and English, and have a multicultural orientation in my formal education. I have a B.A. in Spanish and French from the University of Texas at El Paso, an M.A. in Spanish Literature from Boston College, and an M.A. in Fine Arts and a Ph.D. in Art History from Boston University. In addition to my training in the Humanities, I have traveled and studied in Mexico, France, Spain, Italy, England and Portugal. My teaching experience includes a range of students from kindergarten to high school, college, university, and continuing education for life-long learners. I am a professor of Art History in the Art Department and a member of the Ethnic Studies Department at Rancho Santiago Community College District, Santa Ana College.
My doctoral study period was on the Renaissance in Spain, writing a dissertation on Renaissance Salamanca. From my early days as a student of Spanish and French Literature, I was interested in studying the impact of Renaissance Europe on the Americas from the fifteenth century forward. This interest is what led me to pursue graduate studies in this field. After spending many years in the northeastern U.S., I returned to my home in El Paso, where I had the opportunity to work at the El Paso Community College as Community Education Development Coordinator and Faculty in Art History. During that time, one of the many projects that I organized was a series of interdisciplinary cultural programs for general public audiences. The objective was to enhance the self-esteem of that community by involving it in the discovery of its artistic heritage.
In 1994, I accepted a Tenure Track Faculty Position at Rancho Santiago College in Santa Ana, Calif., where my principal responsibility is teaching a course on Mexican and Chicano Art History. In this course, and at other times when I have taught it, I deal with the Precolumbian and Colonial, as well as the Modern and Contemporary periods. In particular, the Colonial or Golden Age is one in which I continue to do scholarly research, noting that awareness in art history must be on the events that occurred because of the influence of Europe on America and also that of America on Europe. Most recently I have received Faculty Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities for participation in summer seminars on Colonial Art in Mexico investigating the cultural cross-currents between Spain and Latin America, especially from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. As a professor of Art History and Ethnic Studies I teach a variety of art courses that include Mexican and Chicano Art History, Art Concepts, and the Survey of Western World Art History. My courses address the need to expand awareness of the value of cultural diversity in school and community. As a teacher I emphasize in my courses the artistic examples that show the basis of cultural identity in the Americas in the cross-currents that give identity.
One of my goals as a teacher is to foster interest in students becoming teachers in Art History and/or developing careers that involve them in Community Arts. In the development of my courses and in planning new curricula, I present ways in which the arts concern the students' own specific, local, and ethnic histories as well as the universal history of humankind. I am actively committed to developing new curricula using interdisciplinary approaches in the teaching of art history to provide a learning environment for students that promotes critical thinking and intercultural communication in a multicultural society. By highlighting the achievements of the humanities in this way, I hope to provide an incentive for protecting human rights by guiding my students to undertake a proactive role in their self-learning and developing responsibility and leadership. I present my discipline as a way to understand the relationships that human beings have to themselves, to each other, and to the divine, for I believe the subjects in art are all about these relationships.