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    American University
    Feb 23, 2024  
American University Catalog 2023-2024 
American University Catalog 2023-2024



Chair  Andrea Pearson

Full-Time Faculty

Professor  T. Doud, D. Kimes, A. Pearson
Associate Professor  J. Bellow, K. Butler Wingfield, A. Holtin, C. Montes, D. Mysliwiec, K. Resnick, I. Sakellion, L. Silva, N. Wowsugi
Assistant Professor  N. Elder, K. Hackett, Y. Peng
Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer  J. Allen 
Senior Professorial Lecturer  T. Elder, A. Leithauser
Professorial Lecturer  A. Ramos, A. Wasserman

Emeriti Faculty

Professor Emeritus/a  N. Broude, M.D. Garrard, S. Lewis, M. Oxman, L. Penay
Associate Professor Emeritus/a  M. Graham, M. Hirano, D. Kahn, H. Langa

Department Overview

The Department of Art comprises a dynamic community of artists, designers, and historians dedicated to investigating, and innovating, the communicative power of visual culture. Faculty encourage student growth and criticality through programs that flexibly engage with historical traditions and contemporary modes of analysis and making. Our curriculum focuses on approaches that respond to cultural change and individual interests. Exploring notions of identity and power, questioning standards of judgment in the arts, and analyzing the construction of meaning through material and form are all central to our research and teaching. The lines of inquiry explored by the Department often provide opportunities for collaboration and outreach. A city known globally for its arts institutions, Washington, D.C. boasts a thriving scene of artists and art spaces with a local and global perspective. Through site visits, exhibitions, and internships, our students gain experience beyond the classroom and an introduction to the broader world of contemporary graphic design, studio art, and art history. 

AU art students put theory into practice. They produce ambitious artworks, designs, and historical analyses that they disseminate through exhibitions and symposia, and they pursue experiential learning in the world-renowned museums and galleries of D.C. Graduates of Studio Art and Graphic Design have become professional painters and sculptors, teachers, critics, designers, illustrators, and exhibition design specialists. Art History graduates have gone on to doctoral programs and to careers in museum and gallery work, visual resources, conservation, writing, and other areas to which their knowledge and skills readily transfer. 

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


American University’s Katzen Arts Center is a state of the art facility for the investigation and pursuit of the visual arts. The classrooms and studios are equipped for the instruction of history, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, design, computer graphics, and new media practices. The building features more than 30,000 square feet of gallery space. It houses the American University Museum, which hosts a robust schedule of rotating exhibitions and is home to the Corcoran, Alper, and Watkins collections. MFA students are provided with private studios near communal spaces to foster both individual artmaking and collaboration. The Visual Resources Center and the Kassalow Library, adjacent to the classrooms and studios, provide access to materials vital for teaching, learning, and research for all programs and a place for Art History MAs to collaborate, write, and study. The American University Library includes a robust collection of visual arts publications housed together in a dedicated area of the building.  

Areas of Study 

The Art History community interrogates power structures that underlie image-making and interpretation. As the only art history program dedicated explicitly to feminist study and its intersections, faculty are devoted to revisionist historical approaches that investigate a variety of human experiences in a global society. The Program is building on its groundbreaking feminist origins, and the internationally celebrated biennial Feminist Art History Conference established in 2010, to train new generations of students who envision an inclusive world. A collective endeavor is to explore relationships between images, power, and identity in all dimensions, including gender, race, class, and sexuality.  

The Graphic 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, motion graphics, user experience and user interface design, multimedia 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 solutions with the reality of budget constraints, technical limitations, and deadlines. 

The Studio Art Program is designed to provide a comprehensive and engaging education in contemporary art practices. The program’s active and invested faculty are committed to fostering creativity, critical thinking, and technical proficiency in our students, while also encouraging experimentation and exploration. Flexible degree programs offer courses designed to broaden experience and fluency in sculpture, painting, video, photography, drawing, printmaking, and expanded media. With a focus on contemporary art as an integral part of society and culture, our program embraces the unique advantage of a liberal arts university to explore the connections between the many spheres of human thought and experience. We offer a variety of on-campus visiting artist talks, site visits to local museums and galleries, and other engagements with artists and art professionals both national and international. These opportunities expose students to a diverse range of artists and perspectives, and help develop a deeper understanding of and connection to the practice of art. 

Honors in Art History

The Honors in Art History  program provides academically advanced students with the opportunity to develop independent research, deepen their knowledge and understanding of the discipline, and hone their presentation and interdisciplinary skills.


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