Visual Arts Unit Information
The Visual Arts Department is looking for talented students ready for the challenge to become the next leaders in art history, visual arts, arts administration, multimedia design and art education.
Florida A&M University
Visual Arts Department
Foster Tanner Fine Arts Center
Tallahassee , FL 32307
ph: (850) 599-3161
Gallery Office # (850) 412-5478
Foster Tanner Building
At Florida A & M University, we want to challenge the way our students see their future in fine arts. FAMU’s motto “Excellence in Caring” is actualized in our ability to offer small classes and individualized instruction in a nurturing atmosphere. The Visual Arts and Art Education curricula is designed to give students a knowledgeable survey of each field and expose future artists to a variety of media and academic courses for the enrichment of their creative processes to build critical, historical, philosophical and productive perspectives and prepare them for careers in the fine arts. Our goal is to develop persons qualified for positions in fine art, art administration, art history, digital imaging / animation, and related two and three dimensional art / design fields.
Students in Visual Arts are directed in studio production through courses in design, drawing, printmaking, painting, ceramics and sculpture. Behind each piece of student artwork lies countless hours of research, critical reflection and the application of skills acquired in the classroom. The encouragement of a cross-pollination of traditional media and digital technology is strongly encouraged and often utilized. The Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts requires a foreign language (12 hours) which allows students to pursue advanced degrees in art history and art criticism. The Bachelor of Science degree allows for more studio work to prepare students for professional careers and / or graduate school. All Fine Arts majors are required to have a formal exhibition of creative work prior to their last semester of residence. Students are expected to work closely with their advisor and the exhibition committee to fulfill this requirement.
Art Education provides students with the opportunity to take basic studio courses along with courses in education in a discipline-based approach to teaching art. Current methodologies in art education are taught rigorously to prepare students for the demands of current trends in education. This approach emphasizes art criticism, art history, and aesthetics as well as art making. There is a continual call for African-American and minority teachers, and these students are prepared both in their abilities to create art and in their knowledge of African-American art history. The Bachelor of Science degree track in Art Education maintains the same core art curriculum with the inclusion of six (6) hours of student teaching and preparation for Florida Teacher Certification.
Drawing and Fundamentals of Design are core foundation level courses in which students develop the necessary tools to understand the development of sound drawings and visually captivating artwork. In addition, the students learn the importance of adhering to deadlines and project specifications which is paramount to foundation level study.
In foundation level drawing, students explore gesture drawing, hatching and other techniques, as well as using Conte crayons, watercolor crayons and other assorted drawing media. Used as a basis for understanding plastic space and the importance of compositional design, foundation level drawing teaches the students to “see” clearly and “observe” without hesitation. Traditional methods in still life arrangements and human form lead to more complex and variegated studies over a period of two semesters.
The Fundamentals of Design coursework investigates the disciplines of drawing, painting, collage, and 3D concepts in a year long process. Experimental assignments and hands-on experience guide the students to investigate their creativity and develop their knowledge of design elements and principles. It is a precursor to all of the other disciplines and prepares students for critiques, professional writing and studio independence. In addition, students are encouraged to visit museums and conduct research to enhance their knowledge of art making.
Printmaking, an area of interest for over the past 35 years, has been a forerunner in producing some of FAMU’s finest art professionals. The school of thought associated with printmaking relies heavily on technique and quality workmanship along with researched thinking in its creation. The program in printmaking includes coursework in screen printing and relief with developing courses in intaglio, lithography and monotype. Mixed media and digital processes are integral to the advancement of this discipline at FAMU.
As innovative as it is traditional, printmaking allows for the practitioner to explore contemporary ideas while exercising conventional methods like drawing and painting. Equipped with a large wash-out area, etching room, 10 silkscreen tables, Elephant etching press and a Cincinnati one-arm silkscreen table – the printmaking studio is ready and able to accommodate the needs and creativity of both the student and professional artist.
The development of technique and mastery over the medium is paramount in the exploration of painting. Both water-based and oil-based coursework are available for students who wish to hone their skills in this traditional but evolving medium. These classes are centered on one-on-one instruction in a studio setting in which students are encouraged to develop their own visions and practices. Introduction to still life painting, landscapes and the human figure are explored.
Every student examines the sculptural form and the dimension of mixed media in a basic, comprehensive format. In Sculpture I, the student will become familiar with basic material and technique, identify and discuss historical and contemporary sculptors and demonstrate knowledge and productions skills in three-dimensional design. Sculpture II is concerned with contemporary and traditional processes of modern sculpture. The development of individual vision through exploration of various processes used in contemporary sculpture, experiences in media, welding-acetylene or arc welding, stone, wood, plastic, steel and bronze casting are encouraged.
The ceramics laboratory is equipped with four Bailey kilns, a glaze lab, ten Brent potter’s wheels, Paasche spray booth, Soldner clay mixer, Bailey slab roller and hand extruder. In beginning pottery courses, students develop skills in slab and throwing techniques, develop a vocabulary in vessel aesthetics and learn the complexities of glazing and firing. In advanced courses, students are encouraged to research ancient and contemporary methods and artists, as well as stretch their imagination on the boundaries of three-dimensionality.
Digital Imaging & Animation
Digital Imaging & Animation is an essential for fine art students to explore the technological advances and opportunities afforded in these two disciplines. The Visual Arts Area is exploring and developing this area to equip students for graduate work and beyond. The computer lab is equipped with ten computer stations which include mid-range flat bed scanners and external zip drives which are networked to a laser printer. A hidden gem of Visual Arts, the computer lab serves as a conduit to interdisciplinary teaching methods with an emphasis on fundamentally sound coursework.
Art History / Art Education
Art History is much more than a lifeless list of names, titles and dates. Rich and varied, art history is a dynamic product of creative individuals responding to and reflecting the views and beliefs of society, its pressures, tensions, its tragedies and its triumphs. Art Education though involves a hands-on experience in developing young minds and shaping future educators in becoming dynamic professionals in primary through high school. At FAMU, a broad foundation of coursework in art history and art education guides students to understand the production of artwork and its aesthetic choices.
Core courses are the basis of general understanding but advanced workshops allow the student to grow and build upon technique to advance that process of art-making. Students explore collage, life drawing, animation, and other areas to develop their own artistic message for student and graduating senior exhibitions. It should be understood that students should be open for exploration and artistically challenged. The transference of strong foundations into a creative and intellectual approach to art-making is encouraged along with sound writing skills.
The concept of the artist in our society today is open to varied definitions and continually evolving perspectives. This potent condition provides a dynamic format for the study and production of artworks and the study of Art Education as vital, intellectual pursuits. In our department, teaching is traditional in approach, interwoven with many supplementary lessons learned in the struggle to survive as artist/teacher and, as an African American in the visual culture of America.
In the classroom, we attempt to provide a comprehensive and systematic approach to the study of Design, Drawing, Printmaking, Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics and Digital Imaging focusing on the mastery of traditional skills as the basis for expressive art. In such an environment, students are able to develop their conceptual abilities, technical skills, and the critical thinking needed to create innovative artwork and to become leaders in the creation of Fine Art.
Our goal is to create a dialogue in the classroom – rooted in fundamentals – that stresses individuality, encourages imagination, innovation, and warrants creative solutions in hand-on experience of media processes studied by the student. Within this classroom setting, faculty share both personal and professional knowledge and experience in art with students throughout their studies. In the classroom, students are given the opportunity to investigate the potentialities and qualities of tools and methods of mediums being studied, as well as the opportunity to freely experiment with the aesthetic elements involved.
Behind each piece of student artwork lies countless hours of research, critical reflection and the application of skills acquired in the classroom. Through teaching applications in Design, Drawing, Printmaking, Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics and Digital Imaging along with student/teacher interaction, students develop the strong conceptual ability and technical foundation necessary for success in graduate school and in the world of art making. With strong Florida A&M University foundations, classroom dialogue and contemporary ideas, graduate school is not the end result of our students’ learning but the beginning of successful lives of art educators and practicing artists.