202 Center for the Arts
Buffalo, NY 14260-6010
Stephanie Rothenberg, MFA
Director of Undergraduate Studies
The Department of Art prepares students for the real-world practice of visual art and scholarship. We unite the disciplines of fine art, design and emerging practices with art history and visual theory to equip students with an interdisciplinary approach to investigating and creating the visual world. Students become proactive members of the arts community, gain professional experiences to build their portfolio and professional resume and build life-long networks with faculty, staff, visiting artists and their peers. The department offers the following undergraduate degree programs: Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA), Bachelor of Art (BA) in Studio Art and in Art History. Students may also pursue a Minor in Studio Art and a Minor in Art History.
A BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree is an intensive professional fine arts and design degree with a greater focus on Studio Art concentrations. Students in the BFA take a 2-semester capstone course, resulting in a senior thesis exhibition. Because this option includes the development of a cohesive body of work, the BFA is considered particularly relevant for students who wish to continue on to an MFA program.
The BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Studio Art is a liberal arts degree with a focus on art and design, that allows a student to combine and explore other academic fields of study. The BA is commonly combined with another major or minor.
Concentrations in both the BFA and the BA in Studio Art include Drawing, Painting, Print Media, Photography, Sculpture, Graphic Design, and interdisciplinary Art and Technology (Emerging Practices). Students in both degree programs are taught a variety of technical, conceptual and creative problem-solving skills, preparing them for life-long careers in the professional world of art and design.
The Drawing concentration area develops perceptual, analytical, and structural drawing skills while simultaneously developing concept generation. The process of “slow” looking, where the mind, eye and hand work together to record, express and understand the world through the physical act of drawing is refined. Using attentive looking as a starting point, drawing becomes the basis for idea generation, material exploration, creation of pictorial and illusionistic space, recording of the external and internal world, and working with the figure. A variety of wet, dry and experimental drawing media are explored. Ongoing group discussions, critiques, lectures and student presentations place the processes and products of drawing within a wide contemporary scope.
The Painting concentration area is a rigorous intellectual, aesthetic and academic endeavor. Faculty mentor students through several courses of inquiry, enabling them to develop a personal vision that often extends the boundaries of what students might regard as painting. Diverse technical skills enhance conceptual formulation, encouraging students to discover their own practice in historical, cultural or sociopolitical contexts. From beginning painting to intermediate and advanced courses to independent studio research, painters develop a unique vision by imagining possibilities provided through course content, group discussions and exhibitions both on and off campus.
The Print Media concentration area embraces both traditional printmaking techniques and digitally-driven technologies such as laser cutting / engraving, CNC-routing and 3D printing. Print Media strives to produce smart and visually arresting work that is relevant to an ever-changing world. At UB, the Print Media curriculum includes hands-on studio courses in Intaglio, Screenprint, Lithography, Relief, Letterpress and Book Arts as well as advanced topics courses. The study of printmaking asks us to reflect upon and grapple with questions of multiplicity, cultural histories, authenticity and originality. Students develop practical knowledge of tools and materials and are encouraged to think of the medium as an ever-expanding mechanism for translating ideas and forging connections with other disciplines.
The Photography concentration area is conceptually driven, emphasizing experimentation and interdisciplinary exploration. We teach students to conscientiously and critically address photography’s broad cultural and social presence, embracing both newly emerging forms and historical precedents and processes. Students in the concentration will be exploratory creators, motivated and open to multiple possibilities of expression. Informed by historical development, contemporary concerns and anticipating the future of photography, students engage in the analysis of form, intent and meaning. These skills can then be applied to both advanced academic research contexts and/or more everyday (on-demand) industry roles.
The Sculpture concentration area emphasizes interdisciplinary methods and encourages conceptual/critical growth and tactile material-based inquiry framed within an awareness of history and cultural theories. Sculpture students explore the nature of materiality through traditional object-making skills such as mold-making, welding, fabrication and foundry work, as well as through contemporary digital technologies. Students extend their material explorations by also engaging with site-specific strategies, environmental or socially-conscious investigations, performance, sound and other time-based media. Students are encouraged to experiment and question artistic conventions and develop critical approaches to evolve a personal vision to fuel their aspirations.
The Graphic Design concentration area focuses on professional design practice that engages in thinking, and problem solving. Using design as a vehicle to engage in social and cultural issues, students learn the process of design that works across a variety of media and social contexts. Focused on the intersection of research, form and concept; the design concentration provides students with a solid foundation in theory and history while cultivating their skills in thinking, material, design research, and production.
The Art & Technology concentration area (formerly Emerging Practices) is a multidisciplinary studio practice that builds on knowledge of emerging technologies such as Interactive Media,
Biotechnology, Machine Learning, Artificial Life and Physical Computing. Art & Technology critically engages with technology, scientific processes; while upholding best practices and ethics. It also reclaims, alters and appropriates existing technologies through creative re-use for communicative cultural purposes. Students engage in deeply experimental technological creative practices, positioning them to anticipate and shape future art movements, media forms and research fields. The Coalesce Center for Biological Arts is a hybrid studio laboratory facility and artist residency program dedicated to enabling hands-on creative engagement with the tools and technologies from the life sciences.
In addition, a focus on Performance is served through numerous undergraduate and graduate courses across the Department of Art. Students engage in the practice, theory and history of performance, performativity and participatory practice in contemporary art. Performance practice is inherently interdisciplinary, integrating multiple disciplines and genres including body art, intervention, sound art, dance, theatre, music and writing. Student projects are informed by understanding the history and social contexts of embodiment, relational interactions and situated interventions.
Finally, the Art History program is committed to exploring the visual arts as tools for decoding culture among today’s broad and immersive visual world. Art History faculty members use a diverse range of approaches to help students access a deeper understanding of the visual arts and visual culture (painting, sculpture, performance art, graphic arts, architecture, photography, decorative arts, print media, film, and television). Courses are offered from ancient to contemporary art history and explore topics ranging from the role of myth and narrative in ancient art to the role of art and media in contemporary society. Course instruction centers on critical thinking about the visual and draws on the social, critical race theory, feminist, post-colonial, and queer histories of art and visual studies. An art history major is ideal for students who wish to pursue a career in the arts, but it is equally valuable for those seeking to develop visual, analytical and communication skills.
Students obtain academic advice and guidance from the academic advisors in the College of Arts and Sciences Student Advisement & Services office (275 Park Hall) and from faculty in their program of study. The CAS Student Advisement and Services Office assists undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences to plan their academic trajectory, develop goals and successfully complete their college careers.
Academic Advising Contact Information
College of Arts & Sciences Student Advisement & Services
275 Park Hall, North Campus
North Campus, Buffalo, NY 14260-4140