BFA in Art - Proposed New Undergraduate Major for Fall 2008
In the below interview, John Cays, associate dean at the architecture school, discusses the degree programs.
What kind of students should apply for the fine arts degree?
It’s for creative students who love the fine arts – painting, sculpture or film – but also love new media. It’s for students who delight in merging traditional and new art forms.
Is the School of Architecture a good place to offer this degree?
What distinguishes the School of Architecture is this: We combine the traditional study of the fine arts with the most advanced technologies -- software programs, fabrication labs, digital methodologies. Leonardo da Vinci, the great Renaissance painter, mastered the science and technology of his time. His curiosity was unlimited. That kind of curiosity is at the heart of the artist’s and designer’s process.
But in our historical moment, new forms and media are challenging all of our preconceived notions about what constitutes fine art. We encourage our students to draw upon whatever artistic field catches their interest -- digital media, animation, and web design, digital photography or film -- and merge that with the traditional fine arts.
What does a fine artist do?
They do many interesting things; it just depends upon what one loves. Some fine artists work as painters and sculptors, while others work as graphic designers for advertising or publishing firms. Some work as set designers for theaters, the ballet or the opera or even for the Apple Store. Others manage art galleries while some work as multi-media artists. Some become art critics or work as curators in museums. Some work as illustrators or book designers. If you are curious, inventive and hard working -- and this degree will spur you to become that -- the opportunities are endless, especially in or around Manhattan, where many of our students end up working.
What does the fine arts program cover?
Their first year will give students a foundation in art and design as well as a grounding in the liberal arts. Fine Arts students will take foundation courses with students interested in other programs, such as digital design, interior design or industrial design. After the first year, fine arts students will be allowed to switch into one of the above fields. Sometimes students change their interests, and we want to give them choice.
In the second and third year, students will work in studio classes. They’ll be in studios in painting, sculpture and film. They will learn from practicing artists who will be working with them side by side in the studio. In the fourth year, students will work in mixed studio classrooms in painting, sculpture, film as well as new media. This will create a synergy between the fields and between the students as they work on a single studio problem form different directions. The mixing will establish the notion that if an artist has something to say, the medium is secondary to the message. The basic premise of the program is that art is a way of conveying ideas in a non-linear fashion. Art, like engineering, is a kind of problem solving. But an artist’s mind must confront and solve problems that defy rigid definitions. The process of seeking artistic solutions by calling upon different artistic fields, including new media that is changing constantly, will make for an exciting intellectual adventure.
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art (1.4 MB, pdf)
(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)