Saint Mary’s Alumna Founder of Popular Art History Podcast

When Alumna Natalie De La Torre ’15 graduated from Saint Mary’s College with a BA in Art History and a minor in Italian Studies, she immediately decided to pursue an MFA in Art History at the University of California at Davis. Little did she know that her life was about to take an unusual turn that included three new friends from graduate school who shared philosophies about the nuances of interpreting and understanding art.

“In the fall of 2015, I started a master’s program in Art History and like a lot of students, I was feeling overwhelmed,” said De La Torre. “During the initial two-day orientation, I met three other students in the cohort, and we immediately clicked. We were all feeling exactly the same way about the challenges of adjusting to grad school, and we quickly realized how special it was that we all connected and would go through this together.”

After becoming immediate friends, soul mates to be exact, De La Torre, Corrie Hendricks, Virginia Van Dine (Ginny), and Jennifer Gutierrez found themselves having very organic and intentional conversations about art and art history in a variety of contexts that some might consider unusual. They were always together, and their collective love and enthusiasm for art was a core part of their friendship. “We would just get together in one of our living rooms and conversations would blossom,” shared De La Torre. “Corrie then got the idea to record our conversations, and we soon realized that we had tapped into something that the population was craving—an art focused podcast.” The Art History Babes podcast was officially formed, and five years later, the podcast is going strong and gaining the attention of the art world.

Earlier this year, Saint Mary’s had the good fortune to welcome De La Torre and The Art History Babes to participate in its virtual Museum From Home series. De La Torre was thrilled to return to Saint Mary’s to talk about recontextualizing women artists, and their representations in museums. “I was an honors student at Saint Mary’s, and so much of what I learned and who I am now as an art historian is attributed to my wonderful professors and the amazing experience I had as an undergraduate,” said De La Torre. “Engaging with Saint Mary’s as an alumna and co-founder of The Art History Babes was a welcomed opportunity.”

The Art History Babes is a woman-owned podcast that explores visual culture and seeks to reconceptualize art and art history, challenging the sometimes elite and traditional discourse with a fresh and current cultural lens. “We established this platform to make art and art history more accessible, especially now since we are operating in an increasingly virtual environment,” said De La Torre. “The history of art is a pretty fundamental human pursuit that can really be found everywhere, and we want art to be expansive and inclusive, rather than limiting. We do our best to break away from typical purviews, and think about art in relation to bigger ideas of culture and everyday life. This approach makes art enjoyable and non-intimidating.”

The Art History Babes were approached by a London-based publisher to write a book, after having listened to several of their podcasts. “They asked if we would be open to the concept of writing an art dictionary, but with a different type of structure that is a departure from a classic dictionary,” said De La Torre. “We jumped at the opportunity, and used our collective voices to deliver creative definitions that are reflective of our podcast format.” The Art History Babes infused humor into the dictionary, thereby making it more conversational, yet factual. The book is titled The Honest Art Dictionary: A Jovial Trip Through Art Jargon.

Moving forward, The Art History Babes plan to expand their virtual platform and use their love of art as a tool for education by curating online digital exhibits, providing virtual art studio visits, and more. “We want art to be a nonjudgmental experience for our followers,” shared De La Torre. “Stop and look at how a piece of art makes you feel. If it doesn’t fit into your traditional idea of what art is, that’s okay. Use your fresh eyes and see what happens. Get out of your own head and just go for it. When you do that, you’ve entered the world of art.”

To follow The Art History Babes podcast, click here.