In the Fine Arts Department, the focus is on the individual. Studio classes are small, and students from beginners to majors receive individual instruction.
Every student is encouraged to develop the physical and critical skills necessary to create art. The philosophy of the department is that observational skills are the cornerstone of all visual art disciplines. Cognition and processing information are key skills for any discipline—in the humanities or the sciences—and for this reason art at Haverford is specifically geared towards enhancing visual perception. Such finely tuned skills can benefit anyone professionally and personally.
The fine arts courses offered by the department are structured to accomplish the following:
- For students not majoring in fine arts: to develop a visual perception of form and to present knowledge and understanding of it in works of art.
- For students intending to major or to minor in fine arts: beyond the foregoing, to promote thinking in visual terms and to foster the skills needed to give expression to these in a coherent body of art works.
About 20 percent of Haverford students take fine arts courses while enrolled in the College. The students who major in fine arts and wish to continue their education are usually accepted at the professional graduate art school of their choice. Our alumni are distinguished professionals, active in the visual creative arts and allied fields.
All fine arts studio courses are designed for students to obtain motor skills, theoretical and critical thinking, and problem solving necessary to create art to the student’s fullest ability along with developing their own original ideas and concepts. Students achieve these goals in individual interactions such as critiques and hands-on instruction in small classroom settings. These educational goals are augmented by outside speakers, visiting artists, exhibitions and non-studio courses in visual culture sponsored by the department or taught by its faculty.
Haverford’s Institutional Learning Goals are available on the President’s website, at http://hav.to/learninggoals.
The fine arts program at Haverford centers around five disciplines: drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture.
Each discipline is offered at both the introductory and advanced levels, exposing students to the rigors and processes of each medium. Students get the benefit of learning about the tradition and the practice in the introductory courses, and then utilize and alter those ideas and tools in the advanced courses.
Students are encouraged to channel multi-disciplinary interests and ideas in their work, and to find an identity and voice through the medium, as well as producing work that is relevant to them.
- Drawing is typically viewed as practice or a preparatory exercise for a more “finalized” project (i.e. painting, sculpture, printmaking, installation), and as the definition of art becomes ever-changing, drawing by contemporary standards includes sketches and everything in between as final works. Especially with the influx of street art and illustration, sketches, lists, and doodles are taken both seriously and as final art forms. Drawing at Haverford introduces and expands the traditional drawing practice to working self-sufficiently and exploring aesthetic notions in a variety of mediums: ink, pencil, charcoal, pen, pastel, markers, mixed media, etc.
- Traditionally rooted in narration, religion, and history the practice of painting is a mode of expression using different styles and mediums. Oil, acrylic, ink and mixed media are the tools to experiment with different painting styles and compositions. Painting at Haverford aims to guide students through the formative practices as well as encouraging exploration. The painting program is rigorous with intensive work and weekly student critiques. Students have classroom opportunity to work figuratively and paint from live models, work within the elements outside in Haverford’s sprawling landscape, and also encouraged to challenge and take ideas further conceptually. With distinguished guest artists and lecturers visiting from other academic institutions, students are exposed to many views and interpretations of art making, inspiration, and the painting process.
- Printmaking is an interdisciplinary art form that has its own unique style as intaglio, lithography, relief, monotype, and silkscreen. Digital printmaking in lithography, intaglio, and silkscreen are taught along with traditional methods. Students are encouraged to combine printmaking with other mediums and extend their ideas from 2D to 3D including installation. Multi-media approaches are strongly recommended in advanced levels.
Printmaking requires an intensive discipline. Patience is essential. Focus and attention are unavoidable. It is an art form based on chemistry and math. It has a long history that they must be aware of in order to create their own works. Furthermore, it is visual. No thoughts or philosophy can “be” a print even though it requires them all. Regardless of level, students are individual artists; they are respected to create their own work with an excellence in commitment that leads them to great achievements.
- The purpose of photography instruction at Haverford is to allow students to develop a personal body of work using photographic materials.
A sequence of courses is offered from Foundation Photography for students with little or no knowledge to Advanced Photography in which students produce books and exhibitions. Emphasis is placed on producing photographs, which express both form and emotion through mastery of materials and acquisition of the intellectual and critical traditions of photography. The former is accomplished by technical critiques of student work in negative, digital and print formats. The latter is accomplished through reading and studying of the history of photography, theory and criticism, photographic monographs and original prints.
The facilities for the study of photography include up-to-date and well-equipped darkrooms for chemical and digital photography. The photography book collection in Magill Library is one of the finest in the country. The photographic print collection contains over 5,000 original photographs. It is encyclopedic and contains works from Hill and Adamson at the dawn of the beginning of photography to contemporary works by Andres Serrano and Laurie Simmons. These exceptional resources support small classes that allow for personal attention and instruction from the professor and staff.
- The sculpture concentration at Haverford offers students the opportunity to explore the three-dimensional media with a broad range of materials and processes. Classes are designed to engage the visual language through a process of critical analysis and discovery while providing a structured environment that allows students to acquire dexterity with a comprehensive set of three-dimensional skills. At the introductory level students are introduced to fundamental three-dimensional techniques and through sequential classes they gain proficiency in a skill set that culminates with sophisticated sculptural concepts and fabrication methods at the advanced level.
The sculpture facilities include a wood shop, metal fabrication equipment, and a large-scale foundry for bronze casting. Students are introduced to wood and metal working techniques, modeling and casting skills, and digital fabrication methods. The sculpture concentration’s focus on conceptual investigation and in-depth technical education, in conjunction with well-equipped foundry facilities, provides students the setting to foster creativity and work through artistic curiosity.
Coursework and Studio Work
The 100-level “Introductory or Foundation” courses consist of half-semester courses. Although one half-semester is not sufficient for a beginning student to master a given medium, it offers ample time for acquiring a medium’s basic skills. In each discipline, the student learns to see and to coordinate their increasing skills of interpretation and expression to create individual art works.
The 200-level courses are “Materials and Techniques” courses. Having gained a solid basis from the foundation courses, the student chooses a medium to pursue in depth for a semester. At this level, we encourage the student to explore the various materials and their uses to create a refined and distinctive body of work. In the 300-level “Experimental Studio” courses, the student uses the acquired knowledge of materials and techniques to further express and broaden their artistic vision and ideas.
We encourage students to spend time on their own work outside of class in the fine arts building. Adjacent faculty studios encourage this informal contact, which is invaluable in learning the discipline of creating art. This type of contact and mentoring is an important aspect of a student’s education in our department.
Fine Arts majors are required to concentrate in one of the following: drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture, as detailed here:
- Four 100-level foundation courses in each discipline.
- Two different 200-level courses outside the area of concentration in the major.
- Two 200-level courses and one 300-level course within the students chosen focal area within Fine Arts.
- Three art history/theory/criticism or visual studies courses (as approved by major advisor).
- Senior Departmental Studies (ARTS H499).
- For majors intending to do graduate work, we strongly recommend that they take an additional 300-level studio course within their area of concentration and an additional art history course at Bryn Mawr.
In preparation for the senior thesis exhibition students attend 499 Senior Departmental Studies (ARTS H499, prerequisite 300 course in student’s concentration such as drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, or sculpture) on a weekly basis. This two-semester, two-credit course provides students with a structured environment to develop a body of work that is presented in the form of an exhibition at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. The scope of the senior thesis exhibition accomplishes the process of selecting works to be included in the exhibition, determining the layout of the works, and installing the works in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Students participate in the planning of the opening reception for their thesis exhibition, which is advertised to a broad audience. During the opening, they present their work to a general audience and are available to answer questions from guests. After the gallery opening, the Fine Arts Department faculty schedules a full departmental review of the work presented by each student. During the review each student articulates a formal presentation of their work and students are asked to respond to questions and comments put forth by the faculty.
Senior Project Learning Goals
Seniors are expected to create a coherent body of work that demonstrates proficiency in the use of their chosen concentration, develop content and articulate ideas with a personal and effective visual language and present their work in a professionally installed gallery exhibition, e.g. in the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Atrium Gallery, or Alcove Gallery. In addition to presenting visual works, majors are expected to articulate the content and context of their work in a written statement, which is on display with their work along with researches on visual art and artists that are related to their own work. These educational goals are augmented by outside speakers, visiting artists, exhibitions and non-studio courses in visual culture sponsored by the department or taught by its faculty.
Senior Project Assessment
Each thesis project is evaluated by the Faculty members who are also their concentration advisors using the following categories:
- Original ideas and creativity.
- Proficiency in their chosen concentration.
- Quality of the project.
- Active discussion and participation during group critiques by departmental full faculty, which forms in the beginning, midterm, and final week, and weekly group critique and research in addition to individual meetings with the faculty members.
- Progress in their project.
- Research on related sources, e.g. professional artist works and digital presentation.
- Minors must take four 100-level foundation courses in different disciplines.
- Two 200-level courses and one 300-level course within the student’s chosen focal area within fine arts.
- One art history/theory/criticism or visual culture course.
Credits from Study Abroad or from Outside the Fine Arts Department
Majors can take one 200-level course outside of a major’s concentration and any art history/theory/criticism or visual culture courses, subject to approval by the chair of the Fine Arts Department before the course is taken.
Minors can take one 200-level course outside of a minor’s area of study and one art history/theory/criticism or visual culture course, subject to approval by the chair of the Fine Arts Department before the course is taken.
See the departmental web page for a description of art studios, galleries, and other special facilities for this program.