Visual Arts majors begin their investigation of the visual world through one of three 100-level courses that explore two and three dimensional phenomena or time-based media, followed by a course that considers the relationship between theory and practice. In subsequent coursework students explore the expressive potential of various media, deciding upon one or a combination, which most fully supports the investigation of their ideas. In the spring of their junior year, Visual Arts majors take a required seminar which combines making images with written analyses of art objects in museums and galleries, and the reading of theoretical and historical material. At the end of the junior year, students can apply for the honors track. Honors students work with Visual Arts faculty throughout the senior year to mount an exhibition in the spring.
While the concentration in the Visual Arts builds on the Chicago tradition of emphasis on critical thinking and the development, testing and revision of ideas, we shift the emphasis to place paramount importance on critical perception in an environment that is now more than ever so dominated by the visual. All of our Visual Arts teaching underscores the fact that perception involves the complex interaction of the senses and the intellect as reflected in art and in our understanding of the larger visual world. Teaching students to see critically through making images is as integral to our practice as textual analysis is central to academic practice. Our course of study develops a powerful set of means which allows students to become sensitive and consciously aware of phenomena such as the relative nature of color; the particular measure of space - both real and illusionistic; and the ways in which our perceptual experiences give meaning to forms in the visual field.