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    American University
    Apr 12, 2024  
American University Catalog 2019-2020 
American University Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]



Chair  Chemi Montes

Full-Time Faculty

Professor Emeritus/a  N. Broude, M.D. Garrard, S. Lewis, M. Oxman, S. Pace, L. Penay
Professor  T. Doud, D. Kimes
Associate Professor Emeritus/a  M. Graham, M. Hirano, D. Kahn, H. Langa, C. Ravenal
Associate Professor  K. Butler Wingfield, J. Bellow, Z. Charlton, A. Holtin, C. Montes, D. Mysliwiec, A. Pearson, K. Resnick, I. Sakellion, L. Silva
Assistant Professor  N. Elder, Y. Peng
Professorial Lecturer  J. Amirkhani, A. Leithauser, A. Ramos, N. Wowsugi
Senior Professorial Lecturer  J. Allen
Post-Doctoral Fellow of Academic Diversity for CAS  S. Smith

Department Overview

The Department of Art encompasses the creative activities of the fine arts (painting, sculpture, printmaking, and new media practices), the artistic applications of design, and the theoretical and historical concerns of art history. These complementary programs function together, so that the student gains not only depth of knowledge in a chosen specialty but also the breadth of experience that yields understanding of artistic traditions, values, cultural awareness, and contemporary issues. A faculty of exhibiting artists, practicing designers, published and respected historians, and strong studio programs focused on giving students facility with materials and familiarity with visual and theoretical concepts make the art department, in effect, an art school within a university.

The Art Department offers majors in Art History (BA) , Graphic Design (BA) , Photography (BA) , and Studio Art (BA) ; minors in Art History (Minor) Graphic Design (Minor) , and Studio Art (Minor) ; and master’s programs of Art History (MA)  and Studio Art (MFA) .

The study of art awakens the ability to undertake a serious exploration of visual form, opens the mind to the special meanings encoded in visual language, and develops the creative, expressive, and analytic abilities inherent in all people. In studio courses, students learn to see with acuity, to explore forms in nature or from the imagination, and to make images that are formally coherent and personally expressive. In art history courses, students are introduced to the art of civilizations past and present, learn how to interpret works of art critically and historically, and discover how art functions both to reflect and to shape social values. In graphic design courses, students develop an understanding of the dynamic power of visual imagery and learn to apply their knowledge of the formal elements of art to the production of effective graphic communication.

American University’s Katzen Arts Center provides students with a state of the art facility for the investigation and pursuit of both the visual and performing arts. The Art Department’s classrooms and studios are equipped for the instruction of drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, design, computer graphics, new media practices, and art history.

As well as multiple performance stages and a full array of classroom and studio facilities, the Katzen Arts Center contains more than 30,000 square feet of gallery space and an impressive museum including the Watkins and Katzen collections, with works by Avery, Chagall, Dove, Klee, Kokoshka, Marin, Matisse, and Picasso, and a vital rotating schedule of exhibitions. The many world-class museums in Washington, DC also form an integral component of students’ experience at American University.

In addition to the full-time faculty, each year the studio program brings nationally and internationally distinguished visiting artists-in-residence to the department, including Olive Ayhens, Gregory Amenoff, Frances Barth, Michael Ray Charles, Susanna Coffey, Diana Cooper, Tara Donovan, Andrew Forge, Theaster Gates, Sam Gilliam, Judy Glantzman, Glenn Goldberg, Michelle Grabner, Joanne Greenbaum, Diana Guerrero-Macia, Hilary Harnischfeger, Julie Heffernan, Bill Jensen, Shirley Kaneda, Peter Krashes, Annette Lawrence, Sharon Louden, Tracy Miller, Catherine Murphy, Judy Pfaff, Howardina Pindell, Tracy Miller, Pat Steir, Stephan Westfall, and others.

An internationally-prominent art history faculty and strong curriculum give the art history major a solid grounding in art as a historical and humanistic discipline in an environment that provides continuing contact with art past and present. Because of the university’s location in one of the major art capitals of the world and its proximity to Washington’s great museums and art collections, all programs afford students the advantage of immediate experience with art masterpieces by diverse artists.

The design curriculum is highly structured and sequential to provide students with the theory and practice of graphic communications design applicable to many purposes, as well as the development of professional production methods. Courses cover publication and editorial design, corporate identity, packaging, illustration, poster design, multimedia, experience and interactive design, etc. Along with creative and technical skills, verbal and analytical abilities are developed through class critiques. Through internships with designers working in the field, students learn to balance the ideal creative solution with the reality of budget constraints, technical limitations, and deadlines.

An important objective of the department is to prepare students for careers in the art world, in academia, and in museums and other professional arts institutions. Given the sound theoretical and technical bases of our programs, graduates find that varied individual career opportunities await them. Depending on the specific discipline pursued, they have become professional painters and sculptors, teachers, critics, graphic designers, illustrators, and exhibition design specialists. Graduates also go on to PhD programs and careers in museum and gallery work, visual resources, and historic preservation.


    Major Program (UG)Minor (UG)Master’s Program (GR)