Nyquon Watson and their artwork.
Program Overview

Studio Art

Create, research, experiment.

Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Oberlin Artists are Thinking Artists

The Oberlin Studio Art department offers a creative platform for students who want intensive studio training combined with the intellectual rigors of a liberal arts curriculum. Oberlin artists are thinking artists, deeply engaged in their intellectual pursuits. Our world-renowned faculty offer courses in painting, drawing, color theory, photography (wet and digital), sculpture, installation, media arts (sound, video, interactive/networked art), performance, reproducible media (screenprinting, lithography, intaglio, monoprint), and all the hybrids in between. Drawing on their parallel studies at Oberlin, our students produce work at the forefront of creative fields.

A Radical Curriculum with a Simple Structure

Oberlin’s Studio Art curriculum is interdisciplinary in nature, and emphasizes ideas. Even skills-based courses use ideas as prompts, from the political histories of color to the concept of “nature” as it has been defined by landscape painting. Beneath our wide offerings in diverse mediums and the conceptual depth of our courses, the guiding structure of our courses is radically simple: physical dimensions. Our 2D courses focus on color, composition, design, and mediums on a flat plane; 3D courses focus on tools and techniques to build in and re-envision in space; 4D courses address time-based media, and most digital mediums. By the time a student graduates from Oberlin’s Studio Art department—regardless of their primary medium—they will be fluent in visual languages across all (known) physical dimensions, preparing them to be active participants in our 21st century visual world.

Since 2008, Oberlin seniors have won the grand prize 8 times at the Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts (EVAs), the nation’s first intercollegiate online arts competition

A Network of Creatives

Faculty, students, and alumni of the Oberlin Studio Art department are a multi-generational community of artists, curators, and designers who support each other in cities (and galleries) across the globe. Every year five recent alumni visit to meet with graduating seniors about the path ahead.

Venus, a painting of a person doing their manicure while lying on their stomach.
Every year over 25 artists and curators visit campus as part of the The Ellen Johnson Lecture Series

Student Exhibitions

At the end of every semester, the Studio Art program hosts Art Walk. Our galleries, hallways, and stairwells become an exhibition space and hundreds of students from across campus come to see what our artists have made that semester.

A student explaining their artwork to another student.

Featured Courses

ARST 141

Intro: Black and White Photo

This is an introductory course to B&W photography. Studio assignments are designed to contextualize photography in terms of its history, its relationships to the other art media, and its cultural implications. Besides studio assignments and group critiques there also will be slide lectures, technical demonstrations, and reading and writing assignments.

Taught by
Pipo Nguyen-Duy
ARST 161

Intro: Screenprint

This fast-paced course offers an in-depth study of serigraphy with an emphasis on conceptual and technical development. Focus is placed on both traditional and contemporary methods of screenprinting onto paper. Exploring the multiple, repetition, reproducibility, and reinterpretation through screenprinted projects, students are encouraged to investigate personal directions for their work.

Taught by
Kristina Paabus
ARST 211

Intermediate: 2D Design

This course develops technical skills and methodologies relating to design, visual communication, and fine art in both analog and digital fabrication. Student work engages postmodern strategies relevant to representation, process, materiality and improvisation with an emphasis placed on composition, concept, color, and craft.

Taught by
Michael Roman
ARST 250

Intermediate: Art as Research

All art is, in some way, a form of research. This class looks specifically at art-making practices that foreground research as a primary component of the creative process. Participants will view their scholarly research project as a premise that inspires multidisciplinary pieces of art and writing. Archives, labs, and libraries will all be seen as sites for creative production.

Taught by
Julia Christensen

Student Profiles

AICUO Grand Award Winner

Studio art and psychology double major Brian Tom ’20 won the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO) Grand Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts for his 10-piece sculpture submission, The Rest In Pieces, which examines human responses to death through irony and humor.

Brian Tom.

Newman Civic Fellow for Engagement

A studio art and comparative literature double major, Bridget Conway ’21 received the Newman Civic Fellowship, a yearlong program that recognizes and supports community-minded students who are changemakers and public problem-solvers on their campuses.

Bridget Conway.

Art as Exploration

Originally from Berkely, California, Brannon Rockwell-Charland ’14, an Africana studies and visual arts double major, won the AICUO Grand Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts. Brannon’s project combined photography with non-traditional media such as hair and makeup to explore themes of time, sexuality and African American experience.

Brannon Rockwell-Charland.

What does Studio Art at Oberlin look like?

A student artist showing their screenprinting work to another student.

As part of a “Live Print” event, studio art majors silkscreen on T-shirts and tote bags with live music and refreshments.

Photo credit: William Bradford
Students looking up at a green neon sign shaped like a human.

Studio Art majors engage in a critique in the capstone course. (Neon piece by Nathan Slone ’20)

Photo credit: John Seyfried
Two students looking at artwork.

Students discuss the work of their peers while working together in the Studio Art building outside of class hours.

Photo credit: John Seyfried
Steven Mentzer painting in a studio.

All senior Studio Art majors gain access to a personal studio, and junior majors gain access to a large shared studio space. Here, senior Steven Mentzer ’20 paints in his studio in the Ward building.

Photo credit: Matthew Lester
Students looking at the projector screen.

Lauren Cornell ’99, Director of the Graduate Program and Chief Curator at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, visits the Intro to New Media course to discuss curatorial challenges in relation to technology.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Julia Christensen
Students looking at artworks on tables.

Students in the Book Arts courses display their work during the night of the Art Walk, when all artwork from the preceding semester is on view.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Nanette Yannuzzi

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

People gathered in a gallery for an art show.
Photo credit: Michael Hartman