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Bryan Zygmont

Associate Professor of Art History
Office: 306 EKH 
Mail Stop: 1776 
Phone: 6350 


Degrees earned: Ph.D. in Art History, University of Maryland, 2006; M.A. in Art History, University of Arizona, 2000; B.A in Art History, University of Arizona, 1998.

Professional experience: Bryan joined the faculty of Clarke University in 2007. Prior to that, he had taught at Northwest Missouri State University (2006-2007), the University of Maryland (2001-2006), George Washington University (2005), Trinity College (2003-2004), and the University of Arizona (1999-2001). In 2013, Bryan was a Fulbright Scholar to Poland and taught at the University of Łódź. Beyond that, he is the author of Portraiture and Politics in New York City, 1790-1825: Gilbert Stuart, John Vanderlyn, John Trumbull, and John Wesley Jarvis, and several scholarly articles. I have made scholarly presentations all over the United States and Europe, and am currently contributing editor of American Art at Smart History, an online art history textbook.

Teaching philosophy: Art History is the greatest of all of the Liberal Arts, for to explore art and its creation, one must learn about a variety of academic disciplines. Indeed, art history is not just about pretty pictures, it’s about history, religion, economics, philosophy, science and math. To become learned in art history is to become learned about humankind.

Clarke’s impact on Bryan: Although I am the product of large state universities (that I loved! Bear Down! Fear the Turtle!), it is at Clarke where I feel I can make my biggest impact on students and where I feel I can be the kind of teacher I am most called to be. I am a member of a wonderful and accepting community. I am not sequestered to a single solitary hallway on campus. Instead, I am an associate of an entire campus. A walk across campus results in dozens of hellos and salutations, from students who have both enrolled in my courses and those who I have never had the honor to teach. This sense of community fills my professorial life with a wonderful sense of worth.

Bryan’s impact on students: I have many aspirations as a college professor, but one of those is to model, and I hope this happens in a variety of independent ways. I hope my enthusiasm for my own academic discipline motivates my students to be excited about whatever it is they study. I hope my active pursuit of a philosophy degree instills in my students a love of being a life-long learner. I hope that my commitment to travel helps to reinforce a commitment to being a citizen of the world. And finally, I hope my love of ironing models a belief in high-quality and interesting neckwear.

Bryan’s favorite:

Movie – I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark when I was 7 or 8, and this caused the immediate desire to be an archaeologist even though I had no idea what an archaeologist did. In time, I just wanted to become an Indiana Jones: an amazing college professor who gets the treasure, defeats the bad guys, and knows that X never (ever!) marks the spot.

Book – The classical Greek philosopher Heraclitus once wrote, “You never step in the same river twice.” This is exactly how I feel about my favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird. I read this book every two years. Not because the book has changed. It is, after all, perfectly static. Same words. Same story. Same plot. Same theme. Instead, it is I who have changed. Harper Lee’s novel reminds of me of all that is good in the world, and fills me—after each reading—with a renewed feeling of hope.

Quote – The sassy Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote, “You see things and say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’” I love the hopefulness of this sentiment. So too did Robert F. Kennedy, for it was later made famous in a speech he made when running for president in 1968.

Class in college – Like most college professors, I sincerely loved my time as a university student, and to pick a single class as a favorite would be impossible. However, I particularly loved the World Literature class I took during my sophomore year, and it very much reaffirmed my love of reading.

 Place traveled – There are many great things about being an art history professor, but one of them involves the ways in which travel makes me better at my job. But of all those places, Florence remains my favorite place—it’s where I proposed to my wife—and Krakow is wonderful. Beyond those, Belgium is filled with great food, ales, and people.

Hobby – Making beer is one of the most interesting hobbies I’ve found. It’s the perfect storm of my nerd: it’s part chemistry, part history and part food science. Making beer is fun, and then one is left with the end result, and the chance to drink really good beer.

  • Support Clarke - Spring
  • Arts at Clarke 2016
  • Transfer Fall 2015