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Art History Research Resources: FYS: Public Art


This resource guide is for FYS: Public Art: Theory & Practice.  I have included resources here that should help you with Assignment #7: Group PowerPoint Presentation on Public Artists. 

Below you will find specific sources to use, as well as tips and suggestions on where and how to search for information using ZSR's resources.  If you or your group has any issues locating sources for this project, please feel free to make an appointment with me.

Kaeley McMahan 

Background Information

Oxford Art Online is the best resource for finding scholarly background information on artists, artistic movements, techniques, time periods, and critical approaches.  In addition to the background information, the articles in Oxford Art Online have bibliographies that are linked to our library catalog and resources.  Use those links to find more resources, or request them through InterLibrary Loan.  

Here are some examples of articles related to this course:

Finding Images

ZSR provides access to an image database, ArtSTOR, which contains images from museums and private collections.  All images are rights-cleared, meaning you can use them in presentations and any academic work while you are at WFU.  ArtSTOR also includes all of the information you need to create a citation for your image.  You can search ArtSTOR by artist name, museum, or topic.  Some examples include:

You will likely use other online sources for images in this project.  I would recommend looking at the sites for museums, galleries, and artist's personal websites for the most reliable images and information.  Image-heavy social media sites such as Pinterest, TikTok, or Instagram may not have the most reliable information and may replicate bad information.  Try to verify anything you find using another reliable source.  See this page for more information on locating images.


The Chicago Notes-Bibliography style is recommended for art citations.  In addition to examples for how to cite books and journal articles, Chicago has specific rules for different types of artworks and citations of exhibition catalogs.  See 14.235 for how to cite paintings, photographs, and sculpture, and 14.236 for how to cite exhibition catalogs.

For all resources you use in your project you need to collect the following information:

  • author/creator/artist
  • title of the work
  • when it was created
    • publication date
    • exhibition date
    • posting date
  • where it can be found
    • publisher/place of publication
    • stable URL or DOI#

For artworks, you may also need to include additional information:

  • dimensions
    • length of time (film or sound recording)
    • physical size (sculpture or painting)
  • media or material
    • photograph
    • marble
    • paint on brick
    • sound recording
  • where it can be found
    • museum, collection, or physical location

ZSR Catalog: Finding Books & Films

Search the ZSR Library catalog to locate books, films, and other resources in our collection. 

Books can include volumes written by or about an artist, exhibition catalogs of an artist's work or a topic or time period, and books that are more broadly about an artistic movement or historical time period.  Examples of these include:

Films, both DVDs and streaming, are also included in our library catalog.  In addition to feature films, we have many documentaries on artists and artworks.  You may find interviews with artists that can help explain their thoughts and process, as well as visual presentations of creative works that may give a better idea of dimension and location than a static image can.  Examples of these include:


When looking for websites, you want to ensure that you are finding reliable information.  Look for information on your artist and their work on museum, gallery, or personal websites.  If they have been awarded grants or worked with community organizations, look at their websites.  You may also find interviews with an artist, performance pieces, or short films about their work on YouTube or other streaming video sites.  Always remember to look for information that verifies who the author or sponsoring organization is, and when the content was created.  Some examples are:

Finding Articles

ZSR has hundreds of databases that will help you find scholarly journal articles on your topics and artists, as well as interviews with artists and reviews of their work.  For this class, an arts-focused database like Art Full Text will be the most useful.  

When searching in a database, you can use many of the same techniques that you used in the library catalog.  Do a basic search for an artists name, using quotation marks ("james luna" or "aviva rahman"), or a simple topic (environmental art).  Use the advanced search to combine ideas or similar words (memorial* OR commemor*) AND (art* OR sculpt*). 

If you are looking for scholarly/peer-reviewed/academic articles look for these features:

  • at least 8-10 pages in length
  • author is an academic (professor, PhD, researcher, etc...)
  • published in an academic journal (Oxford Art JournalArt History, etc...)
  • the bibliography is appropriate for the article length

Remember that interviews and exhibition/performance reviews are NOT scholarly/research articles.  You can still use them to get information, but they will be considered a primary source, in the case of an interview, or as criticism in the case of a review, and thus serve a different function in your research.

Primary Sources

You will be dealing with a variety of primary sources during this project.  You may encounter:

  • artwork
    • sculpture
    • painting
    • films
    • photographs
    • art installations
  • interviews with an artist
    • audio/video/podcast
    • magazine/newspaper
  • writings by an artist
    • artist statements/manifestos
    • artist websites
    • books or articles

These are all considered primary sources because they are created by someone, as a first iteration of that "thing."  Any later discussions by critics or academics of that initial "thing" would be considered secondary sources.  

You might also use newspaper resources as another type of primary source, which is something contemporary with what you are studying.  News coverage of the AIDS crisis in the 1980's could give you a better idea of the cultural and historical context in which artists were working.  How artistic responses to events were covered, such as the AIDS Memorial Quilt, could also be something to consult.

  • New York Times, 1980-present
    • use the advanced search
    • use quotation marks around personal or organizational names, phrases
      • "aids memorial quilt"
    • use the specific date range option to limit the number of results or focus on a certain event
      • 1990-2000
      • can resort results by oldest first or most recent first