The Department of Art and Art History is dedicated to liberal education in the creation and historical study of the visual arts. Students can major, minor or take a cluster in art history or studio arts.
At Rochester, we encourage our students to become technically adept artists who understand art’s place in culture. They learn from leading faculty who themselves are working artists shaping the artistic landscape in Rochester and worldwide.
Our department is distinctive in its orientation toward visual culture rather than traditional art history. We offer some courses on the art of particular periods, ranging from ancient times to contemporary, while others investigate photography or architecture. The visual studies component of the department investigates visual culture, going beyond what's usually considered "art" in thematic ways.
Finally, our programs marry theory and practice through internships, study abroad, and opportunities on and off campus to get involved in Rochester’s vibrant and dynamic arts scene.
Our department’s graduates go on to pursue variety of career paths and advanced study—from graphic design to teaching, historical preservation to law, freelance work to consulting. In short, our programs teach you to think critically; synthesize ideas and materials creatively; as well as write, research, and analyze effectively. These skills are invaluable in any aspect of life.
Experience Art in New York and Abroad
We offer the Art New York program, where students participate in an internship and take coursework in New York City. This program allows students to get intensive exposure to art history/visual culture and contemporary art-making in New York City's museums, galleries, studios, and cultural institutions.
You can also study abroad during a fall or spring semester in the University's European Arts Internship program, which is open to all majors. In Europe, there are opportunities to work in institutions, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of London, and internships can be arranged in Paris, Brussels, Bonn, and Madrid.
The studio arts program focuses on the production aspects of visual studies. Our program explores contemporary approaches to art production; it strives to produce technically adept students with an understanding of art's place in culture.
The program is housed in the Sage Art Center, a place where art is produced, analyzed, and exhibited. The center provides access to all the materials, supportive resources, and faculty and staff necessary for a rich studio experience.
Any material or approach is possible. While our introductory-level courses provide a foundation built on more prevalent art media—such as photography, painting, sculpture, video, collage, and drawing—the advanced-level courses make available the experimental and interdisciplinary approaches often used in contemporary art production.
In art history, students study the history of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other art forms from antiquity to the present covering a wide range of traditions and geographical regions across the world.
Our students analyze the work of art itself—understanding its form, why and how we make use of it, its historical context, and mode of production. These analyses can focus on different topics including economic, social, and gender issues; problems of patronage and taste; and questions of exchange, reception, conservation, and restoration.
Art history is an ideal field if you want to acquire a general cultural background, develop analytical and writing skills, and sharpen your critical sensibilities.