The Program in Visual Arts, part of the Lewis Center for the Arts, allows undergraduates to explore visual art and media and to develop their creative skills in connection with a general program of humanistic education. Courses are offered in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, filmmaking, and film history and criticism. Studio courses emphasize direct, hands-on art making udner the guidance of practicing visual arts professionals.
Most courses in the program are open to all students at Princeton. A few courses are by application only, and a few are reserved for certificate and Program 2 students only. Most courses are letter graded (not pass/D/fail) and may be taken in fulfillment of the distribution requirement in LA (Literature and Arts). Summer courses and study abroad are accepted for Program 2 students, certificate students, and students who have previously completed at least one VIS course. AP credit is not accepted.
For students interested in pursuing a thesis in studio arts, there are two options. The first is Program 2, the concentration offered by the Department of Art and Archaeology in cooperation with the Program in Visual Arts that focuses on the studio arts. The second option is a visual arts certificate earned in addition to a student’s departmental concentration. Students wishing to study film history and theory may pursue this track within the visual arts certificate program in collaboration with departments that accept a creative or written thesis in film.
Admission to both Program 2 in art and archaeology and the visual arts certificate program is selective. In the first week following spring break, students submit an application and a portfolio of creative work (or an essay on cinema in the case of those applying for the track in film and video) to the Lewis Center for the Arts administrative office. The admissions committee will notify by early April those students accepted into the program. For specific prerequisites, please see the individual areas below.
Program 2: Visual Arts
Program 2 is an intensive studio concentration in the visual arts that culminates in a creative senior thesis. For program requirements, see the Program 2 description under the Department of Art and Archaeology.
The Visual Arts Certificate
Overview. A certificate in visual arts will be awarded to students who successfully complete a substantial program of studio work and other requirements, as summarized below, while concentrating in another academic department. Students interested in a certificate in visual arts should submit a portfolio in the spring term of the sophomore year. Students must have completed at least one visual arts studeio course before being admitted to the program. One course in art and archaeology is also highly recommended.
Course Requirements. A total of eight courses combined from the Program in Visual Arts and the Department of Art and Archaeology, as follows:
a) Four visual arts studio courses, which must include courses in at least two different media, and at least two 300- or 400-level courses.
b) VIS 392 Issues in Contemporary Art. This course is required for all Program 2 and certificate students. The course coincides with admission to the junior studios and concentrates on the history, challenges, and rewards of studio practice. Through readings, discussions, studio critiques, artist's books, and a culminating exhibition of works in progress, VIS 392 provides the context and the work ethic for each student's independent creative development, as well as beginning to be able to articulate the historical precedents and ambitions of their work.
c) VIS 416 Senior Thesis Seminar. This course provides a formal structure in which Program 2 and certificate students will present, discuss, and develop ideas for their visual thesis exhibitions.
d) Two art and archaeology courses, one of which must be in the modern period (19th century to the present).
Junior Independent Work. In the fall, students will be assigned one adviser and will select one adviser from the Program in Visual Arts faculty and complete the Certificate Adviser Approval Form. Each student is also assigned a studio work space in the Room 401 loft of the Lewis Center. The junior independent work is done in consultation with each student's advisers, with their peers, and with the entire visual arts faculty in open studios. The advisers' spring term grade for the junior independent work represents an evaluation of the entire year's studio work. The junior independent work is exhibited in a group show at the end of the junior spring term.
Senior Independent Work--The Creative Thesis. In the fall, students enroll in VIS 416 Senior Thesis Seminar, are assigned one adviser and select one adviser from the Program in Visual Arts faculty, and complete the Certificate Adviser Approval Form. Students are assigned shared, semiprivate studios on the second floor of the Lewis Center. The creative thesis work is done in consultation with the student's advisers and their peers, and with the entire visual arts faculty in open studios. Students present their work in an exhibition during the spring term, usually a two-person show with another certificate student or Program 2 student. The grade for the senior independent work represents an evaluation of the entire year's studio work and is the average of two grades: (1) the average of the grades given by the student's advisers and (2) the average of the grades given by the rest of the visual arts faculty who view the senior exhibition.
Track in Film and Video
Students interested in film criticism and analysis may pursue the film and video track within the visual arts certificate program while concentrating in another academic department. Requirements for this track are summarized below. To enter this track, students must have the approval of their department of concentration to submit a written critical/historical thesis on a film-related topic. Normally, students in this track must complete a production course and a course in film history or theory before being admitted to the program.
The five visual arts courses that students take in the film and video track must include:
a) One course in film/video production (VIS 261/262, VIS 361/362, VIS 462)
b) Two courses in film history (any course listed by the Committee for Film Studies) and one visual arts seminar in film theory or history.
c) At least two other courses (either in film production or academic courses in film history).
Please note: Three cognates are accepted within the above group. Junior projects and senior theses may be submitted as historical or theoretical essays based either on one of the media or on both media. Where these projects can fulfill the requirements of the visual arts certificate and the student's department of concentration, they will be jointly advised by faculty members from the program and the student's home department. Where the independent work is not completed in conjunction with requirements for the student's home department, the work will be supervised by two faculty members from the Program in Visual Arts.
Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in visual arts upon graduation.