Why Art and Art History?
The study of art at the University level, embedded in the ideals of a liberal arts education, allows students to develop both their creativity and their critical faculties through visual media. Studio art and art history have separate curricula, but links between the two, and other disciplines, are encouraged.
The studio art major offers courses in painting, drawing, design, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, photography and digital art making. Also, study abroad programs in studio art offer the opportunity to take courses that supplement the curriculum, such as architecture and graphic design. Art classes are small, which translates into close interaction between faculty and students. Studios are open during evenings and weekends to encourage students to develop their ideas outside of class. Senior studio art majors have their own studio in which to develop a thesis project, which if approved, is presented to the public in one of the University galleries. During this process they learn about the professional aspects of being an artist.
Studying art history allows students to explore the historical, social, philosophical and political contexts in which art is made, and to consider the various theoretical perspectives utilized to interpret it. The art history major includes courses on both Western and non-Western art, as well as museum studies courses. Art history majors are encouraged to study abroad in order to experience the cultures in which the art they're studying was created. Art history students can work on exhibitions sponsored by the University Museums, a benefit that is rare at most undergraduate institutions. Like studio art majors, art history majors develop a thesis in their final year. Students publicly present their theses at the annual Student Symposium.
The opportunities for art and art history majors are as diverse as the students are. Some studio art majors go on to graduate school to obtain a Master of Fine Arts, the terminal degree that allows them to teach on the college level. Richmond students have been accepted to both the prestigious Chicago Institute of Fine Arts and Pratt Institute. Other students translate their creative skills into jobs in graphic design and applied art fields such as interior design.
Art history majors also have a variety of options from which to choose. Some go on to graduate school in order to become academics themselves or to work in museums; others choose to work for non-profit art organizations, auction houses and galleries. The critical skills emphasized in the study of art history translate into a wide range of professions. For instance, a recent graduate is pursuing a degree in international relations at the University of Chicago and another is studying law at Rutgers University.