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Art – Studio Art (B.F.A) Major Guide for 2015-2016

About the School of Art

The School of Art at the University of Tennessee has a strong national reputation and is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Courses are taught by our internationally known faculty who conduct a high level of research and creative activity. On the undergraduate level, the School offers curricula leading to the Bachelor of Arts (majors in Art History and Studio Art); the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art; and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. These programs prepare students to pursue graduate work or a variety of career options including fine artist, graphic designer, photographer, digital/media artist, gallery director, museum administrator, arts administrator, public school teacher, and college instructor.

Undergraduate majors in the school enjoy the advantages of small art classes augmented by the benefits of a large university with its wealth of activities and course selections. The school takes seriously its role of guiding students toward individual creative and educational fulfillment.

Faculty in the School includes artists, designers and art historians of national and international stature. The Artist-in-Residence Program and the Visiting Artists, Designers and Scholars Program further enhance the teaching environment by featuring prominent individuals who work with students in a variety of venues. Through a variety of student organizations, including the Visual Arts Committee, the Print Club, the Sculpture Club, UT Potters Club, and SOMA students help to bring additional speakers to campus.

The School of Art has an active exhibition program supported by the Ewing Gallery of Art and Architecture and the University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery, which host major exhibitions of work by national and international artists. The School also maintains Tennessee’s only student run, non-profit exhibition space, Gallery 1010. Both University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery and Gallery 1010 are located off campus in the heart of the Knoxville downtown arts district.

What is Art – Studio Art (B.F.A)?

The School of Art offers a professional degree in studio art. Following one year of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary foundations program, BFA students choose a concentration in one of the following areas: 2D, 3D or 4D.   The 2D area includes drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography.  The 3D area includes ceramics and sculpture.  The 4D area includes video, film, sound and performance.  Within each concentration there is the opportunity and structure for students to follow a path of study that best complements their needs and goals.

All the concentrations offer a wide range of experiences in both traditional and contemporary concepts, materials, and techniques. The curriculum is fundamentally responsive to the plurality of ideas evident in the art world today. Ultimately, the emphasis is on developing in each student the creative processes of ideation, personal expression, and artistic growth.

2D Concentration

Drawing offers diverse and exploratory approaches to image making including representational, abstract, process, life drawing, and watercolor. Painting emphasizes that students develop a rigorous studio practice and offers studios for upper level majors. Painting and drawing supports a different artist-in-residence each semester, deliberately chosen to ensure that students have access to a wide range of contemporary sensibilities. Photography has a both a state of the art digital lab and traditional b/w processing and printing. Printmaking provides a complete studio experience with courses in intaglio, lithography, relief and monotype, papermaking and screen-prints, including mono-print, combination of print and non-print methods and photo-print processes.

3D Concentration

The 3D curriculum consists of a variety of courses. Some are media-specific; such as ceramic sculpture, steel sculpture (welding) or metal casting; some are thematic such as pottery or figure modeling; and other courses are for general development of sculptural ideas. The curriculum in ceramics addresses sculptural work, new technologies and functional work using fired and unfired clay within a studio practice.

4D Concentration

4D provides instruction and training for students interested in time-based mediums as an art form. With an emphasis on creativity, as well as technical virtuosity, students produce works of art using cinematography, animation, installation, gaming, performance, sound and video art.

Career Opportunities in Art – Studio Art (B.F.A)

As in any fine arts field, students pursue a visual arts degree because of a strong philosophical commitment to a life of productive creativity.  Many students graduating with a BFA go on to graduate study.  The skills and training in arts courses, however, can be applied to specific fields of commercial endeavor. Ceramicists often apply their art to the creation of utilitarian vessels. Drawing, printmaking and painting majors may practice in such fields as advertising, animation, fashion, graphic novels, illustration, or as a professional artist. Other career paths include fine arts printing or operating a letterpress shop. The technology training in 4D Arts courses allows students to learn skills and techniques such as narrative, digital editing, digital imaging, film production and sound articulation that may lead to positions in professional production studios and other related businesses. Photography may lead to other opportunities. More than half of the photographers whose income derives from photography are self-employed. They specialize in commercial, portrait photography or photojournalism. Many graduates gain their teaching certification to be art instructors. Those trained in sculpture have found employment as furniture designers, architectural model builder, product designer, theater set designer, jewelry designer and product designer.

Salary Trends in Art – Studio Art (B.F.A)

Students who gain teaching certification following a B.F.A. in studio art are paid an average of $35,000 at the entry level.  If one is employed in the media industry, entry-level salaries may range from $30,000 to $40,000, depending on the skill level of the employee. Those who pursue M.F.A degrees and become professors have starting salaries ranging from $40,000 to $50,000. Salaries for free-lance artists vary widely depending upon their work and the art market.

High School Preparation

Work on a well-rounded curriculum in math, science, history, language and literature. Take a variety of art courses offered in school but also take advantage of other resources in your community: art classes at workshops offered by museums, arts organizations, educational enrichment programs. Make a habit of seeing exhibitions in your community and while traveling. Organize an art club; invite speakers to your school. Work on the yearbook and newspaper in your school. Being involved in student organizations and publications will prepare you not only to work with visual arts materials, but will give you opportunities to work with others on collaborative projects. Subscribe to or read art journals such as Artforum, Artist in America or Art Papers and actively engage the numerous art forums that are available online. Artists are concerned about the relationship of art to society, so classes in the social sciences should be a priority for your academic work. Many students today also find connections between the sciences and art. Additionally, creative writing and the study of literature can play a central role in the development of your art.

How to Major in Art – Studio Art (B.F.A)

Before you may progress into the program as a major, you must take Art 101 and 103 (a two-course sequence in two- and three-dimensional design) and an art history survey (Art History 172, 173, 183, or 162).  Students are then admitted in rank order of cumulative average as space allows.  During the first year, students also usually take Art 102, a course in four-dimensional arts (time), and a second art history survey.  During the second year, you will progress to 200-level classes and choose a concentration.  Students must pass all progression requirements in their area, which may vary.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is affiliated with UT. Forty miles southeast of the UT campus and two miles from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Arrowmont is an internationally known visual arts complex renowned for its intensive one-and two-week spring and summer workshops in many media. Weekend and week-long workshops are available in October. Courses may be taken in the spring and summer for UT credit. Internship opportunities are available for graphic design majors, museum studies students and printmaking students. The UT Print Club and the UT Potters Clubs are active student organizations, hosting sales each semester to support student travel to the Southern Graphics Council International Conference and the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). The AIGA Student Group of American Institute of Graphic Arts invites guest speakers, arranges field trips and community outreach.  The Sculpture Club works with other organizations to bring visiting artists to campus, facilitates workshops, attends conferences, plans field trips and maintains the Reese Sculpture Collection on campus.  SOMA is a club for time-based interested students. They are active in organizing the Handheld Festival at the end of every semester at the Regal Downtown West Theater, an international media festival and exhibition INSTA, and sponsor time-based artists on campus. The Visual Arts Committee is a university student organization that brings in visiting artists and organizes exhibitions in the UC Center. Several clubs also organizes community outreach events such as iron pours, screenprinting demos and other service projects.

The School encourages students to have experiences beyond the University.  Opportunities include national and international student exchange programs, artist residencies, internships, and the many study abroad programs offered through the School of Art and other departments.

Highlights of Art – Studio Art (B.F.A)

We are housed in the expansive Art and Architecture Building, four floors dedicated to architecture and the studio arts. There are lecture spaces and classrooms with multimedia capability, well equipped design labs, film and video labs, spacious sculpture and ceramic spaces, accommodating painting and drawing studios, and one of the finest printmaking facilities in the nation. The Ewing Gallery, located in Art and Architecture Building, and the Downtown Gallery, schedule approximately twenty-four exhibitions each year.  These support the galleries’ mission to sponsor exhibitions representative of current attitudes in art, to support the academic goals of the various disciplines taught in the School of Art, and to serve as a resource for the university and regional communities. Gallery 1010, a student gallery organized by students, is located in downtown Knoxville. Exhibitions are scheduled by a School of Art student advisory committee. Our Visiting Artist program introduces diverse and important artists to students. In some cases, visiting artists and designers are in residence on campus for up to a week, conducting workshops or working with students and faculty on collaborative projects. In addition, Painting and Drawing’s artist-in-residence program brings an important contemporary artist to the UT campus each semester.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education website or the Ready for the World website for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities. Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

For More Information

School of Art Handbook
School of Art Office
213 Art & Architecture Building


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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