View BA in Art History       View BA in Design

BA in Art

The School of Art and Design offers undergraduate study leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree in Art. The objective of this program is to provide the essential theoretical education, technical training, and creative experience necessary for professional activity and the pursuit of graduate studies in the visual arts. Students in the degree program are supported by dedicated and engaged faculty members with a broad range of research interests, explored through ceramics, exhibition design and curatorial practice, furniture design and woodworking, jewelry and metalwork, painting and printmaking, photography, sculpture, and socially-engaged art practice.

Undergraduate Art Emphasis Area Options

Students who want to specialize in a specific studio discipline can do so within the ‘Bachelor of Arts in applied arts and sciences’ degree. The areas of emphasis below are available as official discipline focuses.

Ceramics at SDSU focuses on balancing the traditions of craft with contemporary art issues and current themes within an art context. Students are encouraged to study the full range of possibilities within the ceramics medium, while developing their own aesthetic style and concepts. Students in ceramics can choose to focus on sculptural form or pottery and vessel forms.

The program features several visiting artists each year to offer diverse interactions with students. As ceramics falls within the Applied Design emphasis (which includes jewelry and metals, furniture and woodworking, and fiber arts), the use of multiple media is encouraged when appropriate.

The Furniture Design and Woodworking specialization is part of the Applied Design emphasis in the Art major. The goal of the program is to encourage students in the development of a mature artistic statement, based upon intellectual, aesthetic, and technical capabilities in conjunction with their career goals.

The curriculum is formulated to broaden understanding of the Woodworking field and its historical and contemporary context through research, experimentation, and reading on critical issues in art and design. Technique, innovation, and experimentation are stressed equally. While furniture design is the main focus, other approaches are also welcomed and encouraged. In addition, designing furniture and/or sculpture using non-conventional materials such as steel, glass, paper, concrete, and found objects is explored. Students are encouraged to explore cross-disciplinary work as well as take advantage of foreign study opportunities to reveal new perspectives.

While the core of the undergraduate curriculum is based on traditional woodworking and furniture making, it also emphasizes the development of ideas and designs that parallel current issues in art and design. Technique, innovation and experimentation are areas that are stressed equally. The teaching format is based on lectures, demonstrations, and slide presentations by faculty and visiting artists. While furniture design is the main focus for the program, other approaches are also welcomed and encouraged. In addition, designing furniture and/or sculpture using non-conventional materials such as steel, glass, paper, concrete and found objects is explored. The School of Art’s structure is such that it allows cross-disciplinary work between different studios; a furniture student can easily work with disciplines in photography, sculpture, painting, among other programs within the School. A variety of processes for Woodworking and non-Woodworking materials are presented while exploring the content of art and studying contemporary aesthetic form and its historical antecedents. Course work places equal emphasis on creative problem solving and technical proficiency. The studio facility supports work in carving, joinery as related to linear design and case construction, plywood and veneer work, lathe turning and finishing. Eligible students can take independent studies in an area of particular interest as well as pursue opportunities for foreign exchange study.

The three-year MFA graduate program is a 60-unit course of study in studio, art history, and professional practice, ranked in the top 5 MFA programs in Jewelry and Metalwork by US News and World Report. Technical support and facilities are provided to enable access to the broadest range of materials and processes, including digital fabrication. A weekly graduate seminar offered each semester provides dialogue that challenges students to be curious, fearless, rigorous, and inventive thinkers and makers.

Discipline-specific courses are complimented by multi-disciplinary graduate seminars, and studio electives, as well as dedicated graduate level professional practices, and college teaching experience courses. The program hosts an international roster of visiting artists/critics each semester. The diversity of work produced in the program is evidence of the program’s philosophy, which supports the individual voice as opposed to a program identity. The consistent character of the work is sophisticated personal expression, finding integrity in the contexts/subjects of jewelry and metalwork: domestic or personal scale, the inherent socio-political functions of decorative arts and fashion, conceptual design, and the languages of material and skill.

Past graduates of the MFA program have pursued many models of practice and are among the well-known studio jewelers and metalsmiths, designers, gallery owners, and university faculty throughout the U.S. and abroad.

The Painting sub-discipline is an integral part of the Painting and Printmaking emphasis. The Painting and Printmaking area provides an environment that encourages students to develop as professional artists. The area attempts to offer a solid foundation in perceptual and technical skills, and an awareness of historical and contemporary precedent in the disciplines of painting and drawing. The emphasis encourages students to use these basic principles creatively to explore a broad range of concepts and to develop independent directions. The primary focus of the Painting program is two-dimensional imaging through the traditional mediums of painting and drawing. As the student advances, attention is paid to the integration of these two with the other 2-D disciplines of printmaking and photography, and further integration with three-dimensional concerns where appropriate.

The School’s Sculpture emphasis is designed to provide training for students to become professional artists and or prepare them for further study at the graduate level. The program has the objective of providing students a program which is designed to develop their perceptual sensitivity, aesthetic judgment, creative resourcefulness, and provides the skills necessary to express themselves. The area seeks to train artists who specialize in three-dimensional expression and sensory kinesthetics.

The sculpture area provides an environment that encourages students to explore sculptural ideas through research, process and materials and promotes art making as a personal, intellectual, discipline-based, communicative activity. At the undergraduate level students are exposed to historical and contemporary precedence in art making and are taught to think independently to gain an understanding of a wide range of sculptural concerns and processes. As students progress through the undergraduate program our goal is to have their work become increasingly self motivated and self directed. We consider sculpture an area encompassing both traditional media and experimental, conceptual work in new media, installation and performance. Our program strives to give students the freedom to experiment and encourages cross-disciplinary and collaborative practice.

The Studio Arts emphasis provides training for students to become professional artists and/or prepare them for further study at the graduate level. The program is designed to develop art-making skills that incorporate methods and techniques that include traditional and contemporary approaches. Students have a number of opportunities to expand their visual art experience within and beyond their area of specialization, along with a foundation in art history. Our program strives to give students the freedom to experiment and encourages cross-disciplinary practice.