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Image Above: Holy Cross Visual Arts trip to MASS MoCA, Fall 2010

The Department of Visual Arts shares a common vision that the world is experienced first through sight.  Both the way we view art of the past and the way we create it today describes us as a culture. Our research includes cultures of the distant as well as the recent past and from civilizations old and new throughout the globe. The study of contemporary developments, in addition, demands methods of sorting large amounts of information, personal histories, and self statements by living artists.

Dinand Library offers not only an extensive collection of materials but also guidance from research librarians. Ask for their help. The Worcester Art Museum Library is a particularly vital resource, especially since its collection does not circulate. Plan on spending an extended amount of time there, free from campus distractions, and you will accomplish work efficiently. The Visual Resources Library, O'Kane 497, is open from 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday during the academic year to assist students with image and presentation needs.

Library research guides

Analyzing a Work of Art

The history of art rests upon the careful examination of material objects. Yet if visual skills are an essential tool for the discipline, "a good eye" is not something that we are born with, but is developed with practice over time. It is easy to see how refined visual skills represent an invaluable tool for many of the most highly trained professions-a doctor seeking to diagnose a patient's condition depends upon visual analysis as much as a lawyer who studies the faces of different witnesses in court.

Examine the object closely and with care. Your observations might address overall aspects, such as the general kind of object this represents (painting, sculpture, architecture); its medium or constituent materials; its overall shape and size in relation to other works. Consider also elements such as color, texture, axial orientation. How would you characterize the form and composition overall? is it rhythmic? symmetrical? geometric? varied? chaotic? Of the elements you have observed, which are the most important? Think about how you can prioritize, organize, and articulate this information in the most efficient way, to assist your reader in understanding this specific work.

Conducting research

Online resources:
From the HC Library homepage:
Electronic Resources:Databases By Subject> Art

  1. Oxford Art Online (these subject entries written by specialists and supplemented by the most up-to-date bibliography should be the starting point for almost any research project)
  2. BHA: Bibliography of the History of Art (source for published articles)
  3. ARTstor (source for presentation images)
  4. WorldCat (networked catalog to find books in national and international library collections)


Locating your materials:

For both journal titles and books, use the library homepage.

This will inform you whether this material is in Dinand Library, and whether HC has online access. If your book or journal is not listed, you will need to request it through interlibrary loan (ILL). If you need to request something through ILL, go to Library, Online Request Forms. (
fill out the form, choosing "Article" or "Book."