The Department of Art offers programs leading to the degrees of bachelor of arts (B.A.) and the master of fine arts (M.F.A.). The department is committed to creative research that investigates the relationship between inquiry and practice and how this dynamic manifests itself in contemporary and historical approaches to cultural production in a continually changing world. Students are exposed to a broad range of aesthetic perspectives through the department’s interdisciplinary curriculum and extensive range of faculty research.
Through a comprehensive core foundation program, students are first introduced to the diverse and hybrid practices of contemporary art, including study in the history, theory, and production of art. At the advanced level, students are given the opportunity to focus and individualize their aesthetic development while still maintaining an open attitude towards art and its ever-evolving contextual relationship with contemporary culture. Students are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary course opportunities campus-wide in other departments and divisions such as film studies and the history of art and architecture.
Art majors are first introduced to contemporary thinking and practice through core survey and studio courses. Upon completion of this fundamental series, students are encouraged to enhance their research through exploration of a range of studio and special topic courses (see current faculty research areas and catalog undergraduate course listing).
The department encourages conceptual problem-solving skills as well as the practical and experimental exploration of the creative process. In so doing, the program fosters independence and innovation on the part of each student in the development of alternative projects and venues for the production and presentation of visual works. In the course of their undergraduate studies, students are expected to generate a significant body of work and should learn to document their process effectively, utilizing current methods of digital documentation and representation. Students are also required to develop their written and verbal skills in tandem with their visual practice to ensure their successful integration into the professional environment.
Further information on the major and on student advising is available in the department through the staff and faculty undergraduate advisors and faculty program mentors.
Students with a bachelor’s degree in art who are interested in pursuing a California Teaching Credential should contact the credential advisor in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education as soon as possible. Students who plan to teach in the public schools are advised to choose a wide range of courses in art. Undergraduate art majors wishing to be teachers must pass the National Teacher Examination (N.T.E.) competency standard in art. Evidence of a passing score on CBEST is also required. (See details in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education Announcement.)
An important component of our undergraduate program, the departmental honors program is a one-year course of study designed to bring a select group of seniors to a level of professional practice. Students apply by portfolio in the spring of their junior year, and must have at least a B overall grade-point average. Selection is by faculty consensus after a review of portfolio materials (digital data, video), with the top 9-12 students chosen for their extant production, as well as potential for development as professional artists. Selected students participate in a rigorous, focused curriculum consisting of seminar, critique, and independent study work. They receive advanced course reading, and are responsible for sharing their own research through additional readings for the group. They are expected, with the guidance of the Honors Advisor and other faculty, to assume a heightened level of initiative for their own education as well as their role as artists within culture. When possible, visiting artists are invited to speak and the Honors students are granted parallel rights and responsibilities in line with the graduate students, such as access to lab facilities as well as spring exhibition of their senior projects. Graduating students have been successfully admitted to M.F.A programs across the country including Yale University, Art Center College of Design, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and California Institute of the Arts. Honors students have gone on to pursue professional careers in gallery and museum exhibition, filmmaking, commercial design production, including video, graphic and web design, fashion and photography.
Education Abroad Program (EAP)
Students are encouraged to broaden their academic experience by studying abroad for a year, or part of a year, under the auspices of the University of California Education Abroad Program. See the section under “Additional Academic Programs” or the EAP website www.eap.ucsb.edu.