Art: Studio Art

Dane Carlson, Assistant Professor

Daniel D. Kistler, Associate Professor

Kristin J. Martin, Assistant Professor

Paul B. Ryan, Professor

The Studio Art major at Principia College is energetic and progressive. Embracing the spirit of flow and diverse creativity that signify the contemporary art world, it promotes aesthetic and conceptual exploration while encouraging excellence. The Studio Art major welcomes all students to explore topics and processes in art and to tap into their ability to work creatively. The program is housed in the Voney Art Center, a state-of-the-art facility with open and light-filled studios, located on the edge of the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. The Center includes the James K. Schmidt Gallery where students and visiting professional artists exhibit their work.   

Courses in Studio Art focus on the process of making art, art’s inherent capacity to express content and ideas, the roles of art in society, and the function of art to enrich the individual creatively and intellectually. Studying and making art within the context of a liberal arts college like Principia reflects contemporary art’s interdisciplinary practices, encouraging links to the explorations, discoveries, and ideas of other academic disciplines. This informed approach fosters new ways of seeing and understanding the world while cultivating creative connections.

The Studio Art faculty are all experienced artist-teachers. Each faculty member is an exhibiting artist or practicing designer devoted to teaching. Class sizes are small, ranging from about four to eighteen students. Professors give substantial time to working individually with students, taking sincere interest in each student’s current and future success, including graduate work and professional careers. 

In the Studio Art major, students learn the following: perceptual skills, analytical and critical competence, technical skills related to specific media, the importance of process, creative problem-solving, various means of artistic conceptualization, and the context of historical and contemporary art. Because of the importance of process and sequential learning in the visual arts, students desiring to major in Studio Art are encouraged to take foundation courses—ARTS 107 Sculpture I, ARTS 150 Drawing I, ARTS 185 Survey of Contemporary Art, and ARTS 230 Color Studies, and one of the four 100-level art history courses—during their freshman year or early in their sophomore year. This will put them on the optimal learning track in the major.

When declaring the Studio Art major in consultation with a Studio Art faculty advisor, the student will select at least one of the following areas of emphasis: drawing, painting, sculpture, graphic design, or extended/alternative media. The culmination of the major is the capstone exhibition: the production and presentation of a cohesive body of work that represents in-depth investigation of a theme or idea. Affording the opportunity for independent scholarship and creative work, the capstone exhibition is very helpful in preparing the student for professional activity and/or graduate work. Though a professional internship in the arts is not a requirement for graduation, its value cannot be overstated; students are encouraged to pursue an internship, especially during the summers, to supplement the studio program.

During the fall or spring semester of a studio art major's junior year, a portfolio review is conducted by the studio art faculty. These are individual in-person reviews. Each review lasts about one hour. The review is used to assess student work and to encourage students in anticipation of their senior capstone exhibition. 

To receive transfer credit toward studio art requirements, the student must submit a catalog description of the course along with a representative portfolio of work produced in that course. Up to 18 semester hours of transfer work may be credited towards the requirement for an art major and six for a minor.

Elective credit is granted for successful completion of Advanced Placement examinations in studio art. For consideration towards the art major requirements, the submission of a portfolio is required.

Most studio art classes carry lab fees that are published in the course description section of the catalog. Some of these fees include the cost of classroom materials. Most courses will require the purchase of some personal art supplies.

Students majoring in art may minor in art history. The three art history courses required for the major in art will count toward both the art major and the art history minor. 

For any repeatable course that is used as an elective for the ARTS major or minor, a maximum of six semester hours may be counted for any one course. Any repeatable course may only be used once within the area of emphasis.