Visual Arts and Studio Arts

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Visual Arts and Studio Arts Overview

The visual arts major with a studio art concentration introduces you to fundamental skills, processes, theory, and culture, from art history and foundation classes to contemporary visual theory and advanced studio practices, such as ceramics, sculpture, painting, drawing, and printmaking. Students will hone their skills under the instruction of our nationally-renowned faculty with an emphasis on individual growth and expression.
Degrees Offered
  • BA
Program School

The uniqueness of the visual arts major with a studio art concentration at Chatham University is its interdisciplinary nature. Students are given the tools to create technically proficient work, but are also challenged to incorporate alternative means of expression, to think critically about the images that they produce, to consider the context in which these images will be interpreted, and to contemplate the role that the artist should play in contemporary society.

—JAMES LOUKS, assistant professor of visual arts

Alumna Profile: Kelly O’Donnell ‘19

Kelly O’Donnell ’19 has had two unusual international experiences while at Chatham, singlehandedly started the cheerleading squad, and is the Resident Assistant for the Women’s Living and Learning Community—but she’s not done with discoveries yet.

Explore the Visual Arts Degree with a Studio Art Concentration:

From foundation-level to advanced practice studio classes, the visual arts major with a studio art concentration curriculum is challenging, and offers plenty of support.

  • At the end of each term, students in upper-level classes participate in survey, an exhibition of student work. Students have the opportunity to have their work viewed and critiqued by faculty and visiting artists.
  • All students complete a capstone seminar that channels the knowledge they’ve accumulated into a discipline-specific project under close faculty guidance. Chatham is one of the few universities across the country that offers such an independent and student-driven program.
  • Chatham is walking distance to many of Pittsburgh’s best loved arts institutions and organizations, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Carnegie Music Hall, and Frick Arts Museum.
  • Students have the opportunity to work in a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and photography. Chatham boasts dedicated arts facilities including a printmaking studio, ceramics studio with a kiln, painting and drawing studios, digital labs, and a film photography darkroom.

Ceramics I

This studio course provides students with an introduction to ceramic processes and materials. Instruction in beginning wheel-throwing methods augments competency in basic construction and surface application techniques. Projects focus on development of form and surface in ceramics, as well as exposure to historical and contemporary issues specific to the medium. 

Material Studies Studio

Students continue to develop their understanding of three-dimensional materials and processes, their history and practice, and associated conceptual vocabularies in this studio. The course aims to challenge students with ceramic and/or sculptural skills in order to move beyond technique and to reconsider material and process from a variety of perspectives. Studio and research assignments will examine technical and conceptual concerns, prompting students to articulate and contextualize their artistic practice.

Special Topics

Rotating on a yearly basis, special topics courses are offered by the department exploring a variety of disciplines, topics, and skillsets. Topics have included low-fire ceramics; encaustic painting techniques, assemblage and collage; and installation and performance.

View Full Curriculum

Our Faculty

If one word could best sum up Chatham's faculty, it would be engaged. Professors bring experiences to relate the course lessons to real-world situations.

Full Faculty

Museum Studies Minor

The museum studies minor provides students with the skills, experience, and professional knowledge necessary to work in the museum field. The minor balances history and theory with practical experience designing and installing exhibitions and preparing educational programming. Students interact with museum and gallery professionals through frequent field trips to local and regional museums.

Susan Bergman Gurrentz ’56 Art Gallery

The Susan Bergman Gurrentz ’56 Art Gallery exhibits artwork by students and by international, national, and local artists, providing students with a chance to work up-close and in-person with renowned pieces of art and historical artifacts.

The Artist Collective

The Artist Collective is a Chatham-based community of artists who are passionate about art and strong advocates of their work. Each year, they host Extraction—a one-day salon-style interdisciplinary exhibition. In 2013, Extraction received the Outstanding Social Program Award from the National Association of Campus Activities.

Olkes Collection

Chatham alumna Dr. Cheryl Olkes bequeathed a magnificent collection of more than 600 works of African art to Chatham College. Today, Chatham students use this collection for study, exhibition, and better understanding of African art and culture.

K-12 Teaching Certification, Visual Arts Concentration

Chatham also offers a K-12 teaching certification with a visual arts concentration through our education major.

Excellent Facilities & Equipment

Visual arts facilities and equipment include:

  • Printmaking studio (woodcut, intaglio, etching, monotype, linocut)
  • Sculpture studio, equipped with woodworking shop
  • Ceramics studio with potter's wheels and kilns
  • Painting and drawing studios
  • Lighting studio
  • Camcorders, tripods, dollies, lighting equipment, audio mixers, audio field recorders, microphones
  • Digital cameras
  • Digital and analog photography labs
  • Digital editing and sound labs
  • Graphics production lab