About Art & Visual Studies


Studio Art Track

The studio art track emphasizes the concepts, materials, and methods most commonly found in the making of contemporary art. Through a series of hands-on studio classes, students can explore painting, drawing, digital photography, sculpture, and printmaking among other things. Through an early emphasis on the mastery of mediums and techniques, and a later emphasis on conceptual development, the track prepares students to confidently engage in the art-making process. Courses in art history and theory augment studio courses to provide students with a well-rounded understanding of how their work relates to both the past and the present. 

Introductory Classes

This component consists of three basic classes: 2-dimensional design, 3-dimensional design, drawing, and a survey class in art history - relevant to any pursuits in studio art.

Intermediate Classes

In this segment of the major students take a more advanced array of generally required classes - painting, digital art, sculpture, contemporary art (an art history class), and a seminar that introduces students to contemporary topics and practices in making art.

Advanced Classes

The advanced classes are ones in which students achieve increased focus and greater sophistication in their artwork. The classes in this strata include two advanced classes in a single vein of art making (painting, drawing, sculpture or digital art) an advanced seminar in art and the senior project.
This is a developmental program designed to bring students along from an early level of advancement as an artist to a highly developed conclusion. An important feature of this small and intimate program is that it is well suited to respond to individual goals and abilities. Those needing a lot of structure and guidance receive it, and more ambitious and independent individuals are given enthusiastic support in their endeavors.

Art History & Visual Culture Track

The Art History & Visual Culture track at Whittier College studies the making, circulation, and reception of images across time and cultures. The Art History & Visual Culture track takes a more expansive approach to the study of art history by including the study of visual images produced through media technology like the internet, social media, and TV/Film. Whether studying more traditional image making processes like oil painting and sculpture, or exploring the digital possibilities of new media approaches like smartphone photography and social media, students in the Art History & Visual Culture track ultimately focus on the social, cultural, and political impact visual culture has on our past and present.

Introductory Classes

Introductory classes are defined as courses broad in scope, such as Art 206 Western Art, 1400-present or Art 211 Expressive Arts of Africa (cross listed with Anthropology 321). These courses need not be taken sequentially. Students are required to take three courses from this category of four, which includes Art 206, Art 211, Art 205 Western Art, Prehistoric-1400, and Art 207, a historical survey of women artists in the west from 1550 to the present.

Intermediate Classes

Intermediate classes are defined as courses with a more narrow focus in time or space, such as Art 367 Art of the Eighteenth Century or Art 381 Art of Mexico. Readings in intermediate art history courses can be challenging, and students taking these courses will have writing assignments asking them to connect primary sources to the images they are studying in class. Five courses at this level must be taken. Typically students take Art 381 Art of Mexico, Art 370 Contemporary Art, Art 369 Age of Dada and Surrealism, Art 368 Age of Impressionism, and Art 382 Art of Colonial Spanish America.

Advanced Course

In their junior or senior year, students take Art 392, the advanced seminar in art history. In this course, students produce original work in art history. Under normal circumstances, the student’s public presentation, which takes place at the Colloquy in December, develops out of assignments created for this course. The studio elective (any course in studio art) required by students on the art history track may be taken at any time. Students often fulfill it by a three-week January Term course.
Art History is not a developmental program. It is designed to facilitate double-majoring, which strengthens the knowledge-base of students doing art history. Double majors particularly useful in this regard include Art History/History, Art History/Applied Philosophy, and Art History/French. Art history students often complete a double major, as well as a minor in French Cultural Studies or Gender and Women’s Studies, where their art history courses count twice, for both the major and the minor.

Digital Art & Design Track

The Digital Art & Design track at Whittier College prepares students for active participation in our increasingly image saturated culture. The track provides students broad experience in digital art and design that ranges from designing websites to producing animations and even creating visual marketing campaigns for social media.  Production based courses are balanced with courses that critically analyze the personal, cultural, and political influence visual media has on our past and present.

The Balanced Curriculum Track

This track allows a balance between Studio Art and Art History and Visual Culture coursework. It is designed to meet the needs of students with keen interest in both areas of study, and it also provides much of the breadth required by teacher credentialing standards in art. Students will be exposed to a breadth of art-making techniques at the introductory, intermediate and advanced levels, and will also take a number of courses focusing on the history of art and visual culture.