The Art & Design Department offers the Bachelor of Arts degree with options in Studio Art or Graphic Design, Bachelor od Arts degree in I-Design, and the Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education for K-12 teachers. Through a combination of studio and art history courses, art majors build cognitive skills while engaging in the inherently creative activities of the art process. Majors acquire interrelated skills in visual perception, creative problem-solving, and critical thinking, all of which complement the objectives of a liberal arts education. Majors and minors study the history of art, focusing on human achievements of the past and present, as well as the various criteria by which they are evaluated. Studio majors develop expertise in specific media areas such as painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, or printmaking. Students studying design, either through the I–Design or Graphic Design program, enrich contemporary society and culture by creating unique expressive forms of communication and experiences through a broad range of design careers. In addition to their classes taken in the Department of Education, Art Education majors pursue a broad range of experiences in a variety of media to prepare them for K-12 Minnesota teacher certification.
During their first two years, students complete the required series of foundation courses. At the advanced level, studio classes in specialized media offer more intensive experiences, in consideration of the student’s capabilities and interests. Each successive course in a medium builds upon earlier achievements; instruction becomes more individualized as students search for more personal means of expression.
Studio and classroom instruction at all levels is enhanced by a changing series of exhibitions in the Paul Watkins Gallery and the Weber (student) Gallery, and by presentations from visiting artists and guest lecturers. Majors and minors, as well as interested non-majors, are urged to join the regularly scheduled field trips to art museums and galleries in nearby cities, which are organized by both faculty and the student Art and Design clubs.
All art courses beyond the 100-level have prerequisites that must be fulfilled before subsequent classes may be taken. During their first two years, students complete the required series of foundation courses that introduce them to basic visual problems, preparing them for advanced work. During their final two years, students complete courses in specialized, media areas of the art curriculum. These offer more intensive experiences, in consideration of the student's capabilities and interests. Each successive course in a given media area builds upon earlier achievements; instruction becomes more individualized as students search for more personal means of expression.
In addition to taking coursework offered by professors who are art professionals, students are involved in the Art Club and other organizations on campus, Co-op Life Drawing sessions, and trips to major art centers. Recent destinations have included New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis. The Paul Watkins Gallery sponsors exhibitions by regional and Twin Cities artists, with accompanying slide talks, workshops, and demonstrations. Most student exhibitions are in the Weber Gallery; twice a year the graduating seniors show in the main Watkins Gallery.