Our First Faculty Interview…..Dr. Laura Dufresne


Introducing our first Faculty Interview….

Dufresne Author ISBN 0-7734-1890-3We had the wonderful opportunity to interview Dr. Laura Dufresne, Winthrop University’s Professor of Art History, Coordinator of Art History Programs.  The following responses are excerpts from our in-person conversation:

Tell us about your educational background.  You have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, you served as a VISTA, you have a Specialization Certificate in Gerontology, and a PhD in Art History.  Why did you choose these areas of specialization?  Why art? 

I have an artistic past including music and painting.  My Grandfather was a sculptor.  The arts were the focus in our family.  I knew I would be working in the art or service industry.  Avoiding art critiques, I channeled my focus in the service industry and worked with older Americans and Social Services.  It is interesting:  As a senior in college, I discovered Art History and stuck with it.  Even after I graduated, I took classes at night.  I studied at 3 different colleges until I settled in Seattle to complete my Graduate Degree in Art History.

How has your educational combination helped you in your endeavors?

My educational combination helped with my art.  I used to paint older people.  I found it to be a natural affinity and a natural flow of my interests.

How important do you think it is for artists to know about Art History, and why?

I think it makes sense for artists to know about Art History because of its historical framework.  I think it depends on the student, but the framework of Art History helps art make sense.  Some students may rely heavily on the influence and dialogue of types of art.  Some students may find it to be intimidating.  I think Art History influences are exciting, but even as I say that, I want to leave a loophole for Outsider Artists.  I do think Art History is important for everyone as enrichment in any field.  Art History relates to every field – even math and economics.

What is your intrigue with the Medieval and Renaissance periods in art?  What is your intrigue with Christine de Pizan?

My upbringing is in the Catholic Church.  I found it to be a dazzling sensory experience with its sounds, smells, and sights…And the incredible stories about the lives of Saints.  I am intrigued with Christine de Pizan because she lived in the courts…she was a woman of the Late Middle Ages.  She worked within the system (of society) and still defied it.  She illustrated books – and back then, illustrations were expensive and required a royal patron.  I enjoy analyzing these images and by doing so, I create a type of revisionist history.  The illustrations were true to the message of the later periods.

In the history of women, Christine de Pizan talked about how to live in the world and what other jobs women could have…the skills they could use for others. I like uncovering these kinds of hidden gems – for example, taking a super popular person and finding their personality contradictions.  She was in a convent her last years – there she wrote her poem, The Poem of Joan of Arc.

And we hear you have a new book on Christine de Pizan, The Fifteenth-Century Illustrations of Christine De Pizan’s ‘The Book of the City of Ladies’ and ‘The Treasure of the City of Ladies.’  Congratulations!  

CLICK HERE for the Winthrop News Link

Dufresne Cover ISBN 0-7734-1890-3To order or for more information….

Mellen Press


While “googling” you, we came across your Pinterest site.  Share your favorite images from your collection.

1)   Dress lights hanging in a tree, lit up, in an absurd, magical way.

2)   Lady with big hair  {Note from interviewer:  Not sure which one Laura meant…so maybe you will find her…great collection of eye candy!  CLICK HERE}

If I asked you to tell me one place to go and one thing to do there, where and what would you suggest?

Italy!  Italy has everything…history, fruits, vegetables, historic churches, and gorgeous beaches.

Your turn to travel…You have been selected to go on an all-expenses-paid partying trip for three days with historical figures – an artist, a writer and one free choice. Who do you choose?  Where do you go?

1)    Charlotte Bronte – Writer choice because I love her writing and want to invite her, even though I don’t think she would be a good conversationalist.

2)    Simone Martini – Artist choice because he would travel and talk.

3)    Julia Margaret Cameron – Photographer/Artist is my extra choice.

We would go to Italy and rent a villa by the sea.

We heard you have an upcoming trip to Italy in May 2013.  What have you planned for this trip?   

This trip is the “Dream Child” of Paula Smith.  She is a Professor of Ceramics and Art…teaching for over 30 years.  We are taking students from CPCC and Winthrop, plus other connections from the community.  It is a full 7 days of trips with Ceramics plus Art History plus Italy!  La Meridiana is a beautiful place to stay with gourmet food.  We are also going to Certaldo to shop…where Boccaccio was born.  So many activities!  So much history!  Here is a link on the workshop and the itinerary:  CLICK HERE

If you could visit three galleries or museums right now, which ones would you choose?

Medieval Art and The Cloisters

The Vatican for Catholic Art, Classical

The Getty Villa in Malibu

What art have you purchased in the last six months?

A clay bust from an artist at Kansas City Art Institute

Name some of your favorite artists:

Nam Jun Paik, electronic world, video arts

Laurie Anderson Performance Artist

Frank Gehry – Architect

Maya Yang Lin A Popular Artist

If you had an uninhibited alter ego, what would he/she be doing?

Lounge Singer, 1940’s hits.  {Interviewer’s note:  CLICK HERE for a link on “How to be a Lounge Singer”…}

Share 3 words to describe you.

1)    Happy

2)    Curious

3)    Bossy

What makes you laugh?

Almost everything – laugh at everything.  Read How to be Happy.  Life is full of humor.

Tell us something not many people know about you (until now).

I cannot spell.  Spell-check changed my life.

Predict your future.

Traveling.  Living adventurously.  Moving toward a sunset.  Writing on blog.  I would like to write another book, perhaps from my blog.  See where the writings lead me…

at-sunset-evening-skyThank you, Dr. Dufresne, for your time and for sharing your thoughts with us.  Enjoy seeking sunsets!


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