The Fine Arts Department is structured to strike a balance between the depth of concentrated study in a specific discipline, with a grounding in traditional processes and historical perspectives, and the breadth of exploration of interdisciplinary practices and contemporary models.
Students are provided opportunities to explore the traditions of painting/drawing, printmaking/book arts, and sculpture while being exposed to ways in which these specific disciplines can be used in a multidisciplinary manner. On the Sophomore level, students are introduced to the media and concepts of all three disciplines, and are required to take classes in each. In the Junior year, students choose a major from one of the above studio areas to develop personal authority and commitment within the discipline. During the Junior year, students also are required to take a seminar class, which examines contemporary practices and issues within their chosen discipline and within the fine arts at large. The transition from Sophomore to Senior year emphasizes a progression from assigned projects that develop the necessary skills and awareness of critical issues, to more self-initiated projects aimed towards the development of a personal vision and a unique body of work. The Senior year is focused on advanced studio practice and a thesis exhibition.
The creative, technical, conceptual, and expressive abilities of each student are developed, while building a broad base of knowledge of the critical, aesthetic, and philosophical issues within the field of fine art. Through critiques, lectures, visiting artists programs, gallery and museum visits, and seminar discussions, the students are guided toward an understanding of the place of their work historically and socially. An integration of studio and humanities studies, research, and experimentation is also highly encouraged.
In addition to the major programs, the University offers a Digital Fine Arts concentration. See the listing of minors and concentrations for information on requirements.
Having encountered a diversity of concepts, attitudes, and media, from charcoal to the computer, Fine Arts graduates find career opportunities as professional, exhibiting artists, curators and gallery personnel, critics, mural and portrait painters, decorative artists, set designers, printmakers, bookbinders, paper and book conservators, graphic designers, commercial printers, mold-makers, commercial sculptors, cinematic prop makers, special effects artists, and teachers at elementary, secondary, and university levels.
The Painting/Drawing major provides a firm basis for students to develop a professional involvement with their work. A balance is sought between the acquisition of studio skills and the development of a critical intelligence.
Students are encouraged, through the rigor of studio activity, to understand the breadth of art in both its traditional and contemporary forms, and to gain increasing authority in their own work.
Courses evolve from the study of basic working methods and concepts to the refinements of personal vision and aesthetic judgment. In the final semester of the Senior year, each student is required to complete a thesis project, which culminates in a formal presentation of a paper and an exhibition of a coordinated body of work.
The faculty of practicing professional artists represents a diversity of attitudes and ideals. Through the format of studio instruction, dialogue, and critique, they seek to instill in each student a habit of self-instruction, which will serve far beyond the program at the University.
The Painting/Drawing Department possesses its own gallery space where faculty, students, alumni, and invited artists have an opportunity to exhibit their work.
Studio activity is augmented by lectures, symposia, seminars, visiting artists, and field trips to museums and galleries.
The Printmaking major bases its instructional program on the development and realization of visual ideas through multiple image-making processes. The primary objectives are to develop conceptual abilities and technical proficiencies, leading the student to acquire personal imagery and professional competence in printmaking media.
The department provides the expertise of a faculty of professional artists to study traditional and digital methods. The major graphic media explored include relief processes, etching (intaglio), lithography (stone, metal plate, and offset) water-based screenprinting, non-silver photographic printmaking, and papermaking. Courses in book and typographic design stimulate experimentation in unifying the elements of paper, prints, typography, and bookbinding.
Visiting artists, field trips, and guest lecturers supplement the studio experience. Using the city as an extended workshop, Print students attend seminars and museum collections. The Print Study Seminar is held in the Print Room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and furnishes a unique opportunity to study original prints from the 15th through the 20th centuries.
The main emphasis over the three-year undergraduate period of study is on the evolution of students as artists who make individualized demands upon the media. As with any study in the fine arts, the experience should be multidimensional, reflective of a broad range of personal and professional involvement, and reinforced with stimulation from related areas of interest, including drawing, painting, digital arts, photography, graphic design, illustration, sculpture, and crafts.
The undergraduate curriculum is enhanced by the graduate program in Book Arts/ Printmaking. This two-year course of study of 60 credits culminates in a Master of Fine Arts Degree. The program provides the opportunity for the individual artist’s expression in limited edition bookworks. Undergraduate students work alongside MFA candidates in studios, workshops, and some major and elective classes. (Students interested in the MFA degree in Book Arts/Printmaking should contact the director of the program or the Office of Admission.)
The Printmaking Department provides extensive facilities for waterbased screenprinting, stone and plate lithography, relief, etching, non-silver photographic processes, and papermaking. The bookbinding room houses book presses, board shear, and a guillotine paper cutter. The letterpress studio contains five Vandercook presses for printing handset type and polymer plates with over 600 drawers of monotype, foundry, and wood type. The offset lithography press room features a Davidson 901 offset press used by the students for hands-on experience.
Other important resources on which the program draws are the Borowsky Center for Publication Arts and the Imaging Lab. The Borowsky Center is equipped with a Heidelberg KORS offset press and a full darkroom for experimental and production printing of student, faculty, and visiting artist works. The Imaging Lab allows for in-house film and print output and the university’s computer facilities.
Printmaking/Book Arts faculty and students have been committed to the testing and integration of non-toxic printmaking processes and inks in the studios since the late 1970s.
The field of sculpture today is open and wide-ranging. Sculptors now create works that range from coin-sized medallic art to pieces that incorporate actual craters and other natural landforms. While some sculptors work with traditional materials such as clay and stone, others incorporate light, sound, and video into their work. Figurative sculpture today can be either traditional modeled forms, or robotic forms that actually move. The expansive nature of sculpture provides a challenge to institutions that educate artists, and we take that challenge seriously.
The Sculpture Department’s aim is to provide a sound, balanced exposure to all the formal, technical, and intellectual aspects of art, in preparation for the student’s continued professional growth beyond the undergraduate years. To this end, our curriculum is structured to provide formal and technical instruction, while at the same time allowing for individual creative development. Seminar classes in the Junior and Senior years engage the student in discussions on sculpture theory, philosophy, and critical thought.
Comprehensive facilities include fully equipped wood and metal shops, a foundry, a plaster shop and figure modeling studio, as well as an open studio for general use. Juniors and Seniors have individual studios. A full-time shop supervisor provides technical assistance and supervision. Faculty members are all practicing professional sculptors, representing a wide variety of styles and interests. Classroom instruction is supplemented by visiting artists, gallery and museum visits in Philadelphia, and field trips to New York and Washington, D.C.
Our graduating students are recognized nationally for their creativity and diversity, and for their preparation for the next steps in their professional careers.
The Sculpture Department has much to offer a student in space and facilities. The department’s five shops provide equipment and machinery for carving, welding, forging, woodworking, metal casting, and moldmaking. In addition, upperclassmen are given individual studios to help facilitate their personal development.