Art department restructures program, offers design track

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A reimagined studio art program with a focus on versatility and relevancy to liberal arts students has been officially approved and will start in the fall of 2016.

Art Department Chair Doug Anderson and professor Terry O’Day, along with the art department, College of Arts and Sciences and the administration, have spent the last two years developing a new program with a restructured Fine Arts Track and a brand new Design track.

Anderson said he and O’Day really began talking about potential changes to the program after the department went under a five-year review in 2013.

“We noticed that the current program wasn’t completely aligned with the values of the college or the values of the faculty,” Anderson said.

As the program was designed in the past, Anderson said the old program catered primarily to students planning on pursuing a career as a professional artist and that a good number of students, majors and non-majors, were walking away without the information they needed for the career they were interested in.

“At a small liberal arts school, we don’t usually attract students who become traditional gallery artists,” Anderson said. “We want to create a program that helps steer them where they want to go.”

O’Day said the department will be focusing on the process, rather than the product to create more applied pathways for students.

While some classes will still be medium focused, Anderson said the courses will have an overarching theme and that upper division studio courses will offer more flexibility, allowing students to take a multi-media approach. Where students used to take introduction to drawing, painting, ect. They can now take Studio 1: The Creative Process, which focuses on problem-solving and divergent thinking.

As an example, Anderson said he will be teaching a course called “Head Shots” in the fall where students will experiment with different art materials to explore what “Head Shots” might mean to them.

O’Day said the reason for these kinds of classes as opposed to the kinds of classes that have been offered in the past is that they give students and professors the flexibility to learn and teach how they want and to focus on real life skills learned through an artistic education and how those skills are applicable in the professional world.

“What we do in the arts translates into highly valuable skills to employers, whether we pursue a career a career in the arts or not,” O’Day said. “We want students to be aware of the skills they are learning and how they will be useful to their professional futures.”

Anderson said the new structure of the program will also have significant benefit for students taking upper division courses. Students taking upper division courses in the current program are put together with the introduction students in the same class.

“We want students to be aware of the skills they are learning and how they will be useful to their professional futures.”

-Terry O’Day


Anderson said that structure has made it hard for instructors to give the students the attention they want to and make it difficult to essentially teach two classes in the same space.

Upper division courses will now be separated into Studio II, III and IIII classes, where students from different backgrounds and medium specialties come together to tackle different topics and media.

O’Day said she began looking at the idea of a Design track in 2010. After looking at schools like the Parsons school of Design and the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, she was drawn to a model that focused on an interdisciplinary project based curriculum.

Because design can be pursued in so many different ways like interior design, fashion design, graphic design, ect. O’Day said the department will focus on the overarching commonalities so students have the skills to move forward in any given direction they choose.

“We don’t want students to leave the program just knowing how to produce a piece of art.” O’Day said. “We want them to feel confident in their ability to design a project, problem solve and tackle any project you pursue.”

Anderson said this new structure will have a particular benefit to students who do not plan on pursuing a traditional fine arts career and those taking an arts course for a requirement or out of interest. He said the classes will now be easier to apply to other disciplines.

“This program also really speaks to teachers, businessmen, scientists and a large number of careers because we are focusing on applicable skills,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that the department will be implementing a transitional program for students who are already studio art majors and that the transition into the new program should prove to benefit sophomores and juniors because it gives them more flexibility in choosing their classes.

O’Day added that, while there was collaboration amongst the College of Arts and Sciences, the new program was designed by the art department to better serve the students.

The planning process began with O’Day and Anderson formulating ideas and meeting with the entire art department regularly to review and brainstorm.

“Our aim for this program is really to better provide for the students we have,” O’Day said. “We are really excited about it starting.”

Anderson sent an email to current art students explaining the changes and the courses that will be offered next fall.


Anderson encouraged students who are interested in the program to check out the new courses available in the fall on BoxerOnline.

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