Far from a still life


Photo Courtesy of Greg Woollgar '13

Greg Woollgar ’13 stands in front of the Bridge of Sighs at St John’s College in Cambridge University

Two years ago, Mr. David Bischoff ’79 retired from Jesuit High School. Although many current Jesuit students are unfamiliar with this renowned art teacher, his expertise in art history has inspired many former Jesuit students to pursue a future in the arts.

One of those students is Mr. Gregory Woollgar ’13, a current student at the University of Oxford in England pursuing a graduate degree in the history of art.

After graduating from Jesuit, Greg attended the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada where he majored in art history. For Greg, Mr. Bischoff’s fascinating art history classes prepared him for his strenuous classes in college.

“We received the unprecedented chance to take three art history courses in high school,” Greg said. “These courses were planned thematically and aligned to the type of work you do in upper-level undergraduate courses, not just the repetitious survey of western art that is so common to initial approaches. The fun of [Mr. Bischoff’s] course was that all of the slides we saw were images taken from his travels, so each class became a vivid story.”

Following his tenure at the UBC, Greg’s passion for art progressed as he traveled around the world to immerse himself in his wonder.  

“I went to the University of British Columbia in Canada, which was just the most beautiful environment to explore and get involved with philanthropy societies, the sailing team, and general student life,” Greg said. “Then, I moved to Seattle after graduation to work with Paul Allen’s art collection. Last year, I was living in Southern Chile in real Patagonia. And now I am deeply enjoying life in England.”

Working your way into a prestigious institution such as the University of Oxford is no simple task; however, Gregory’s work ethic caught the attention of those closest to him, especially his younger brother Matthew Woollgar ’15.

“I would call him disciplined,” Matthew said. “He’s the type of student who wakes up at 7 a.m. every day but is able to maintain a social life too. He is incredibly organized, well-written, and well-spoken. As a result, college was never too stressful for him relatively compared to other students.”

Studying for a Master of history of art at Oxford, Greg finds he has an engaging setting as he works to balance study and recreation.

“It is a fascinating program and environment where I get to surround myself with diverse and interesting people, and of course, the medieval setting with beautiful museums and churches are very conducive to exploring tangibly what I study,” Greg said.

Greg has specifically delved into new territory and is analyzing the relationship between art and politics in his studies.

“I focus on modern and contemporary art, with a focus on the last 20 years and also the Cold War,” Greg said. “This area is attractive to me because you cannot separate the art from the politics, and studying artists from that period gives insight into social realities.”

Jesuit is blessed to have cultivated a growing art program with extremely talented and driven student-artists, especially in the 2019 senior class. Greg has some advice for those select few:

“My greatest advice to future artists would be to talk to everyone you find,” Greg said. “Get comfortable with talking about art, and go look at the real works in museums/galleries, not just reproductions. Explain your interests and concerns to any available ear, and I am certain you will develop rich ideas.”

With a myriad of academic experiences in art history, Greg actively lights the way for current Jesuit students to pursue their passions in the arts.