Students may take studio courses in many media, from sculpture and drawing to video, photography and printmaking. We also offer interdisciplinary courses organized around conceptual questions and themes. Classes take place in studios with spaces for hand-setting type, using bandsaws, creating installations and designing computer graphics. All senior art majors have their own studio spaces.
In the Studio
Studio art at Smith gives students hands-on opportunities to delve into six exciting areas of concentration.
All graduating Art majors and minors will:
- develop familiarity with original works of art and/or architecture and with research tools appropriate for the discipline, including print scholarship, online databases, and various reference materials;
- communicate their ideas effectively in written, oral and (as appropriate) material form, including public presentations that rely upon the display of visual images or artwork;
- engage a range of disciplines in their work, in the spirit of a liberal arts education.
Art Studio and Architecture majors and minors will:
- demonstrate fluency in practices or techniques in the current field of practice for at least one medium (e.g, painting, installation, photography, digital media);
- demonstrate proficiency in an extensive and pertinent vocabulary for describing their own work and the art historical antecedents with which it shares relationships;
- demonstrate familiarity with professional practices and global perspectives within the cultural landscape of contemporary art;
Assessment (majors and minors): Students will be assessed through periodic faculty and peer critiques of their work and reviews of their written and oral abilities.
Assessment (majors only): Students will create a body of work for final exhibition that results from deep engagement in the process of making and demonstrates an awareness of the contemporary and historical context in which the work exists. This work will be evaluated through peer, faculty, and external critique.
Students will also complete the major with a professional-level, documented portfolio of their work, including both visual and written materials.
Art History majors and minors will:
- learn to read original objects, architectural settings, and written scholarship analytically and synthetically;
- demonstrate familiarity with the different ways that spaces, monuments, and objects have intersected with lived and imagined experiences throughout history and the world over;
- demonstrate expertise in self-directed research, including fluency with a range of methodologies and debates across the discipline.
Assessment: Students will be assessed in classes, through faculty reviews of their written and oral abilities.
Students will also complete a capstone research seminar that results in a sustained piece of original research, presented in oral form and a paper of ca. 15 pages, to be evaluated by the faculty.
Lee Burns, Alexis Callender, Lindsey Clark-Ryan, John Slepian, Fraser Stables, and Lynne Yamamoto.
11 courses, which will include:
1. One 100-level course selected from the following: ARS 162, ARS 163, ARS 172. (Note that certain upper-level courses indicate specific 100-level course prerequisites.)
2. ARH 110 Art and Its Histories
3. One course with a contemporary emphasis, relating to art history, visual studies, or film and media studies, to be chosen in consultation with an adviser
4. One additional 200-level or 300-level art history course
5. Five additional 4-credit studio art courses, one of which may be at the 100-level. Students may work across media areas but must consult with their adviser to take a series of courses (usually three) to reach the advanced level in at least one of the following. Each area is sequenced differently but will require at least one 300-level course.
graphic arts (printmaking or typography)
6. ARS 385
7. ARS 399: J-term graduates should take ARS 399 in their junior year. All other students should take ARS 385 and ARS 399 in their senior year.
Declaring the Plan B major:
A student may declare a Plan B major any time after completing the introductory (100-level) studio art requirement and one additional studio art course. Prior to declaration, students must complete a portfolio review, scheduled each semester prior to the advising period. Students who receive a negative evaluation will be encouraged to take an additional studio course or courses, and resubmit their portfolio at a subsequent review time. Students who receive a negative evaluation may resubmit their portfolios in subsequent reviews up to and including the last portfolio review available during their sophomore year. These students will be offered suggestions for strengthening their portfolios through additional studio coursework in the same or other media represented in the portfolio. The additional studio courses will count toward fulfilling the major requirements.
Mapping the Plan B major:
Upon receiving a positive portfolio evaluation, a student should select and meet with a Plan B adviser. Together they will discuss the student’s interests and studio work to date, and select a media concentration from those listed above. Together, the student and adviser may design a sequence of studio courses that draws from several areas of concentration.
The following courses are repeatable with different course content and instructor, for a maximum of 8 credits: ARS 264 Drawing II, ARS 268 Topics in Printmaking, ARS 362 Painting II, ARS 363 Painting III, ARS 364 Drawing III, ARS 366 Topics in Painting, ARS 372 Printmaking: Mark-Making, Image-Making, World-Making, ARS 374 Sculpture II, ARS 376 Printmaking: Color, Texture, and Scale, ARS 383 Photo II, ARS 384 Topics in Photography
**In response to the current unprecedented circumstances, the Department of Art is allowing up to two Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) courses from Academic Year 2020–21 to count towards the major.
**Students entering Smith College in the Fall 2023 Semester (or after) are subject to the above requirements. All others have the option of following this set of requirements, or the one in effect when they arrived at the College or declared their major.
Lee Burns, Alexis Callender, Lindsey Clark-Ryan, John Slepian, Fraser Stables and Lynne Yamamoto.
Designed for students who wish to focus on studio art, although they are majors in another department. With the assistance of a minor adviser, a student may construct a minor with primary emphasis on one area of studio art or may design a minor that draws from several areas of concentration.
One 100-level course selected from the following: ARS 162, ARS 163, ARS 172 and five additional courses in studio art, of which at least three must be at the 200-level and at least one must be at the 300-level.
Graphic arts seeks to draw together the department’s studio and history offerings in printmaking and typography into a cohesive unit.
- ARS 163
- ARH 247 or 268
- Any four ARS classes from: 269, 270, 272, 275, 369, 372, 376 of which oneshould be at the 300-level or a continuation of one medium.
Studio Art Director of Honors: Alexis Callender
An honors project is an 8-credit class focused on independent research during a student’s senior year. Interested students should meet with the director of honors to discuss the proposed project and, if appropriate, develop a proposal before the end of their junior year. The college's official requirements, guidelines and deadlines are available on the class dean’s website.
All candidates will present their work in a public presentation to the art department, in late in April or early May.
Who Qualifies for Honors?
Students wishing to apply must have:
- At least a 3.4 grade point average (GPA) through the junior year in all courses in the major
- At least a 3.3 GPA through the junior year in all courses outside the major
Only Smith College courses (including Picker and Smithsonian), Five College and Smith College Junior Year Abroad (Florence, Geneva, Hamburg, Paris) are counted in the GPA. Smith College grades from the first year are counted in the GPAs outside and inside the major.
To be considered for art department honors, you must have a strong academic background both in general and in your art major. You must be able to work independently, and you must have thought long and hard about your project. By the time you submit your application, the proposal needs to be clearly, fully and specifically developed.
The 8 credits of the honor thesis "count" as art department credits (i.e., they constitute part of the 64 credits in the major). This is one of the reasons why many ambitious and accomplished students choose not to do honors; they find they would rather take other classes—either in art or other departments—to broaden their background.
The Nancy Kershaw Tomlinson Memorial Fund offers financial support to offset some of the expenses related to the honors thesis project. Your request for funding needs to be included with the application.
The thesis will count for 60 percent of the honors designation. For ARH, the expected length of the thesis is about 60-80 pages (excluding bibliography). For ARS/ARU students this will be based on work through the year and final exhibition. The final Jannotta Gallery exhibition must consist of work that comprehensively addresses and resolves the thesis topic. It must be installed in a manner that demonstrates best professional practices. In the case of site-specific work outside the gallery, there must be a Jannotta Gallery exhibition component comprising of appropriate documentation materials.
The oral component will count for 20 percent of the honors designation. This is comprised of a public presentation and a defense. Usually scheduled on the Monday of the last week of classes, honors students are required to give a formal presentation of their work and field questions on their project. This event is public, members of the department will attend and students are encouraged to invite friends and family. The directors of honors and advisers will rehearse the presentation with you during the spring semester. During the examination period, students are required to participate in a defense. For ARH, students are asked to briefly summarize the findings of their thesis and field questions from the members of the thesis committee as well as any other member of the art department who has read the thesis. For ARS/ARU, this will consist of a critique of the final exhibition with the members of the thesis committee.
Your thesis adviser and second reader each provide an honors designation (highest honors, high honors, honors, pass, or fail). If they substantially disagree, a third/fourth reader is assigned by the director of honors in consultation with the department.
In the art department the honors designation is determined as follows:
Thesis: 60 percent
GPA in the major: 20 percent
Presentation/defense: 20 percent
Studio Art Study Abroad Adviser: Alexis Callender
Many studio art majors choose to study for one or two semesters abroad. Students often choose the option to study intensively for one semester at an art college (which typically provides the equivalent of three courses in studio and one course in art history) or within a university (where students typically take one or two studio classes per semester). Another option is one of Smith’s full-year programs in Florence, Geneva, Hamburg, or Paris, where students can take one studio class per semester.
Recently, studio art students have studied at the Slade School of Art in London, Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh University. Students interested in design often choose to study at DIS in Copenhagen. CET Prague has been a popular option for those interested in film and media. Beyond these programs, students have often petitioned to study at institutions in other parts of the world, or “studied away” at a US art college or university.
Visit the Study Abroad website for more details about Smith’s programs. It is never too early to explore options and plan your course selection accordingly, including language study when required. We encourage early conversation with your adviser.