Michael L. Beatty, M.F.A., Associate Professor and Chair
The study of visual arts is designed to be an integral part of the liberal arts curriculum at Holy Cross. Its aim is to increase student sensitivity to the visual arts, to refine the powers of critical analysis, and to provide the student with the means of creative expression. The rich resources of the surrounding area, especially the museums and architecture of Worcester and Boston, form an integral part of the curriculum and the department provides students with opportunities for internships in these cities. Tutorials are available with individual faculty to allow students to design courses suited to individual needs. The department sponsors numerous programs for gaining a broad understanding of the practice and study of the arts today: lectures and demonstrations by visiting artists and critics, student presentations of seminar research in open forums, and regular trips to Boston and New York galleries and museums. There are two divisions in the Department of Visual Arts, art history and studio art. Students may major or minor in either art history or studio art. Students may also combine a major in one area with a minor in the other.
Art history reveals the past not simply through a review of data, but through a search for transcendent values that inform creative expression. The field is unusually open to interdisciplinary cooperation, relating in special ways to studies in history, literature, religion, and philosophy. The practice of art history provides both cognitive and discursive skills to probe past developments and confront those of the present. It empowers students to see differences yet discern common links that in a global, complex, culture, becomes a means of welcoming the diversity of the present.
The art history major requires a minimum of 10, a maximum of 14 courses. This includes: Introduction to the Visual Arts or Survey of Art, one studio course, and four courses distributed among the following five areas of the discipline (Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, Modern, Architectural History), and three electives in Art History. The Concentration Seminar is for fourth-year students (mandatory for majors). Montserrat courses in Art History are accepted as the equivalent of an introductory course. Exceptions will be granted on an individual basis for students to substitute pertinent courses in other disciplines. Students may develop such sequences in consultation with their advisor after a written proposal has been reviewed and accepted by the Chair. Many art history majors choose Study Abroad as an integral part of their major, a decision enthusiastically supported and guided by the department.
The art history minor is available to students in any major, including the studio art major. The art history minor provides students with the opportunity to explore the history of visual images. The minor consists of six courses: The Introduction to the Visual Arts or Survey of Art History (required); three courses distributed among five areas of the discipline (Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance/Baroque, Modern, and Architectural Studies), and two additional electives chosen with the advice of the art history faculty. The Concentration Seminar is also available as an elective.
Studio art engages the student in the discipline of visual thinking, encouraging precise observation and creative invention, inspiring discussion and the development of flexible, innovative problem solving skills. The interested student and the aspiring artist study with practicing professionals to gain insight into the creative process and complex paths to creating art in a contemporary context. Studio classes demand commitment on the part of participating students to broaden their vision and draw connections between the classroom and the outside world. From the introductory to the advanced level, classes are “hands on” emphasizing an experimental attitude towards materials and the acquisition of both technical and conceptual skills. The department encourages the active exhibition of student work. There are ongoing shows in The Ramp and Fenwick Hall galleries. The student-run arts organization Student Art Society (SAS) sponsors exhibits in the Hogan Campus Center. Students with extensive previous experience may be allowed to bypass either Fundamentals of Drawing or 3D Fundamentals with a portfolio review by a studio faculty member. In such cases, students may move directly into intermediate level courses.
The studio art major requires a minimum of 10, a maximum of 14 courses, beginning with Fundamentals of Drawing and 3D Fundamentals. One additional drawing course is required. Majors are required to take at least two sequential courses in a particular media, such as Sculpture 1 and 2. A combination of a level 1 course plus a Topics course in the same media may satisfy this requirement, such as Painting 1 and Topics: Visual Concepts of Painting. Studio majors are required to take two art history courses which should include Contemporary Art, VAHI 210, along with a second course selected in consultation with his or her advisor. The remaining courses are selected from the areas of Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, and Digital Imaging, plus Special Topics courses. Studio art majors and minors are required to participate in the Majors and Minors Review.
During the senior year studio majors are required to take the Studio Concentration Seminar which focuses on the development of an individual body of work. Students are provided with a workspace in Millard Art Center. Studio Art Majors are required to take the fall semester (VAST 300) and are eligible for the spring semester (VAST 301). While both semesters are strongly recommended for the major, students will be admitted to the spring semester based on an evaluation of their work by studio art faculty. Only students taking the spring semester, Studio Concentration Seminar 2, will participate in the senior exhibition in Cantor Art Gallery. Students are expected to declare the Studio Art major no later than the fall semester of their junior year in order to ensure placement in the Studio Concentration Seminar. Students who declare later than this deadline may be required to consult the department chair to seek an alternative course to complete the major.
The studio art minor requires a total of six courses including Fundamentals of Drawing and 3D Fundamentals plus one art history course. The remaining three elective courses may be chosen from Drawing, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Printmaking and Digital Imaging, plus Special Topics Courses. Studio minors participate in the studio reviews in their senior year, and exhibit their work in the Spring Senior Minor’s exhibition in the SAS gallery in Hogan Campus Center.
A combined major and minor in either of the department’s two divisions (Art History major/Studio Art minor or Studio Art major/Art History minor) requires the completion of 16 courses: ten in the major and six in the minor, following the individual requirements listed for the selected major and selected minor. Courses may not be double counted across the two divisions; 16 courses are required for a combined major and minor.
Advanced Placement Credit: Students with AP credit in Art History, Studio, and Drawing are awarded placement in the studio art curriculum. AP credit does not count toward the minimum number of courses required for the majors or minors.