Studio Art

Academic Program in Studio Art

The Studio Art department offers practice-based studio training in a broad range of mediums, combined with the intellectual rigor of Oberlin’s liberal arts context.

Students work on projects in the Drawing & Color Theory Domes at the Venturi Studio Art Complex.
Students work on projects in the Drawing & Color Theory Domes at the Venturi Studio Art Complex.
Photo credit: Zach Christy

Program Requirements

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Students seeking a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art at Oberlin College gain a solid educational foundation that prepares them for careers central to 21st century visual culture, including architecture, design, curation, arts education and leadership, entrepreneurship, digital storytelling, and of course, being a professional artist. Our students leave Oberlin with the hands-on skills, resourcefulness, and problem-solving abilities inherent to the practice of art, and they know how to manifest their ideas through material and form. 

The Studio Art department offers training in drawing, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, printmaking, bookmaking, installation, and time-based media. Classes emphasize intellectual rigor, and the articulation of conceptual thinking is primary. Our department believes in the power of an interdisciplinary arts education––a photographer will simply make better photographs if she also understands sculpture and 2D composition; a painter will be a better painter if they also gain an understanding of electronic media and printmaking. As such, we require all students to begin their studies in Studio Art with three courses in the Intro level representing three physical dimensions: 2D, 3D, and 4D. Classes designated as “2D” introduce ideas of composition and color on a flat plane; “3D” classes emphasize envisioning and building in space; “4D” classes focus on time-based media and digital processes. 

Studio Art majors then take a deep dive into their interests through Intermediate courses in specific media. In the Junior year, majors enroll in a project-based Advanced course, where they will begin to develop a practice that goes beyond assignments and exercises. Each year, 2 Advanced courses will be offered with an emphasis on particular physical dimensions to provide upper-level support for dedicated students. Junior majors share a large dedicated studio space. 

In the Senior year, all majors complete the Senior capstone triad of classes: Senior Studio Practice (4 credits each semester), Professional Development Practicum (2 credits), and Exhibitions Practicum (2 credits). The first course, Senior Studio Practice, is a year-long course in which students occupy their own semi-private studios, and hold critiques and studio visits with peers and faculty as they build towards their senior exhibition. In the fall, Senior majors also take Professional Development, in which they will learn to write grants, residency applications, statements, CV’s, and other tasks related to the professional practice. In the spring, students take the Exhibitions Practicum, where they design, install, and produce their senior exhibition(s). 

The Studio Art major provides a skill-base on par with some of the nation’s best art schools, combined with the interdisciplinary studies offered by Oberlin’s liberal arts context. Our graduates are part of a large, multi-generational network of peers who are creating our visual world.

Be sure to consult with an advisor in the Studio Art department as you consider a major in Studio Art.

Related Programs

Discover related majors, minors, and concentrations in The Practicing Arts at Oberlin.