Ivy Distler, Matt Dumon, Hollie Davis (summer scholars 2016) in a group critique looking at Ivy’s photographic work in connection with her double major in Biology.
At Denison, studio art students immerse themselves in the study of art while engaging critically with diverse courses, ideas, professors, and peers. Students try multiple mediums—animation, ceramics, design, painting, performance, photography, printmaking, sculpture, video, and more—developing a breadth of knowledge while recognizing the importance of finding depth within making and thinking.
Denison’s Studio Art program is unique
Our Studio Art program expands the boundaries of what art ‘is’. We emphasize art-making as a means to thinking not only about oneself, but also about one’s relationship to the world of ideas from multiple perspectives. Studio artists gain the knowledge and skills to use art as a way of responding to the constantly changing world.
Pick your path:
Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree often double major, finding ways to make connections between the subject matter in their other major and their studio practice.
We are also proud to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree which allows students to focus with rigor on their practice with a year of dedicated research, culminating in a solo show and thesis.
Our students work one-on-one with visiting artists. Professional artists, brought to campus through the Vail Visiting Artist Series, offer inspiration and exposure to a diversity of practices through talks, workshops and demonstrations. Visiting artists even meet one-on-one with studio art majors in practicum classes to respond to their work and provide new insights. Our majors are also mentored by artists and designers through the unique Columbus Creative in Residence initiative, designed to show how creatives can make their way in the world.
Our home in the Bryant Arts Center provides a top-tier facility with a wealth of equipment for art-making. From our kilns and welding tools to our dark room and woodshop, our students have an unlimited ability to create.
In Studio Art we foster independent and creative thought, emphasizing art-making as a means of thinking about not only oneself, but our relationship to the world of ideas from multiple perspectives. We offer two degree programs in Studio Art, a bachelor of arts (BA) and a bachelor of fine arts (BFA). Both degree programs emphasize technical skills and critical thinking, interdisciplinary work, collaboration and community. We encourage the fluidity of learning and see art as a bridge to all areas of study and research. The BA and the BFA prepare students in different ways for a variety of post-graduate pursuits, be it graduate school or professional endeavors in art and related fields. Students who plan to major in Studio Art are strongly advised to seek an advisor in Studio Art at the time of their decision to major. Studio Art majors are required to take a series of core courses and students need to work closely with advisors to complete these core courses by end of the first semester in their junior year. Students should expect to work two hours per week outside of class for each credit hour of a course. For students to whom off campus study is an option, we transfer up to 4 courses from an off-campus study experience towards the major, pending approval from the Chair.
Denison’s studio art courses are innovative, technically rigorous, and critically engaged. Students gain experience in a wide array of media, including animation, ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, and more.
We are committed to the rich dialogue that comes out of contemporary art—to creating environments and courses dedicated to anti-racism and to subverting traditional hegemonies of gender, sexuality, class and origin. Our courses are often cross-listed with other programs (including Queer Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies, Black Studies, Latin and Caribbean Studies, and Environmental Studies).
Outside the Classroom
“The New York trip gave me the opportunity to see what a life in art looks like. I was deeply inspired by the artists we visited, and the wisdom they shared with us…. I feel so fortunate to have had a glimpse of this world, as an undergraduate student.”
Senior studio art majors travel on an annual fall trip to New York City to experience art and the life of a working artist through first-hand exposure to the galleries and museums in one of the major art centers of the U.S.
Photo from the Denison Seminar: “Creative Transformations, Art and Literature in the Hispanic World” in La Habana, Cuba where they traveled to explore the art and literature produced there.
The Junior Practicum class also travels to an art destination in the Midwest. In addition, field trips to nearby Columbus (home of The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus Museum of Art, No Place Gallery, the Pizzuti Collection, Friend Collective, ROY G BIV gallery, and other art spaces) happen frequently throughout the school year.
Many studio art students study off campus for a semester or longer. Students often participate in programs with a special emphasis on studio art and art history, in places such as Australia, France, Mexico, Italy, Ireland, Senegal, Denmark, and Japan.
Many sophomores and juniors take Denison Seminars, multidisciplinary courses that often include a travel component. Seminars such as “Creative Transformations, Art, and Literature in the Hispanic World,” “Printmaking as Activism,” “Queering the Archive,” and “Shaking, Moving & Drawing,” and have traveled to Appalachia, Cuba, Germany, Japan, and San Francisco.
Art constantly evolves in response to the world. Thanks to the Vail Visiting Artist series, Denison students connect with artists from fresh perspectives every semester. Artists from a myriad of media and experiences come to campus and meet students in classes, performances, and one-on-one. It’s an invaluable opportunity to learn and absorb from cutting-edge artists of the day.
Praxis in the Arts, a Studio Art and Knowlton Center supported initiative, requires majors to have work experience in the arts as part of their degree.
What do studio art majors do after Denison?
Our graduates are high achievers, and we follow our students careers with pride and support. We have studio art graduates studying in graduate schools across the country, teaching in public and private schools, working as professional artists, designers, art therapists, outreach and activism coordinators, administrators in the arts, architects, and more.
Denison Studio Art students develop an artistic language by acquiring technical and critical capabilities that allow them to appreciate and contextualize their own art practice within a contemporary artistic, social, historical and cultural environment. The curricular structure of our program requires our students to develop a knowledge of multiple disciplines; photography, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, painting and digital technologies. The program emphasizes the need for agility of thinking and making, while also allowing for a depth of exploration in areas that are of interest to the student or their practice. In emphasizing a commitment to thinking and making in plurality of material and thought, we seek to remove the silo mentality of separate spheres. Our students are taught to consider art-making as a means to not only think within and of themselves, but also to contextualize themselves and their work – to place themselves in a historical and contemporary trajectory and take responsibility for being a part of a complex world of ideas and perspectives.
Creative Process: Students are exposed to contemporary and historical visual practices through a combination of foundation and higher level courses that demonstrate the fluidity of learning Studio Art in a Liberal Arts context. Demonstrating the breadth and depth of our curriculum, students are expected to initiate and bring to realization creative works in a variety of mediums.
Thinking as an Artist: In classes across the curriculum, students are encouraged to see art making as an education in risk-taking, problem solving, collaboration, with the ability to embrace ambiguity with a critical awareness of the world at large. A central learning goal in all our classes is to establish independent artistic thinkers. This goal is addressed in introductory classes, which include both research and final projects for students to realize by working independently. This speaks to the goal of establishing independent creative work.
Critical Inquiry: Students become creative thinkers who are able to engage in understanding of critical trends and contemporary artistic discourse in their own work, and as participants in the community of the classroom or program.
Visual Literacy: Our students are expected to articulate and understand complex ideas through art and art-making as well as through critique settings, written artist statements and oral presentations. Students develop a body of work through a process of self-actualization that includes critiques, exhibitions, written and oral defense. Our program seeks to ground students’ creative development in larger social, cultural or political discourse.
Active Citizen: We strive to create a learning community to not only nurture creative artistic growth but also foster collaborative spirit, awareness of our diverse complex world and ultimately, encourage empathy for others within our students.