Department of Art

At Cornell, the study of art is an education in creating artistic objects, spaces, and experiences that reflect intellectual judgment, philosophical understanding, historical knowledge, and ethical principles that engage and influence the often bewildering complexity of contemporary life within and beyond the academy. 

Students develop the skills specific to the practice of art in addition to and within the understanding that there are more general skills necessary to a critical apprehension of the collective condition. This distinction is made in order to clarify that the department does not view art itself merely as a profession, but as a way of understanding and communicating meaning through materials, situations, language, and images.

"As artist-educators, we assume a unique and critical role in connecting some of the most complex aspects of art practice to pedagogy," says Paul Ramírez Jonas, Professor and Chair of the Department of Art. " We do this understanding that the next generation of artists live in a world that is both fraught with compounded crises and full of opportunities for engagement, intervention, and for making lasting change."

The Department of Art currently offers three degree programs including a Bachelor of Fine Arts designed for the integration of elective classes from across the university, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Visual Arts with an emphasis on studio practice in and across all mediums, and a new low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Image Text integrating creative writing, contemporary visual media, and design for print and digital publication.



Applied + Engaged Art Practice

The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A) curriculum combines the intensive studio culture of the Department of Art with open access to elective classes in all areas of Cornell University. Focusing on individualized direction with close faculty mentorship, studio practice, and forging trans-disciplinary relationships, the department prepares a close community of artists to engage the world as creative and intellectual leaders.

Read more about the B.F.A program

M.F.A. in Creative Visual Arts

New Imaginaries + Critical Practices

The two-year Master of Fine Arts in Creative Visual Arts program is an intensive, intimate, and diverse community that supports interdisciplinary and medium-specific practices augmented by access to the breadth of fields of study across the university. The college provides private studios, teaching assistantships throughout, and a generous tuition remission. 

Read more about the M.F.A in Creative Visual Arts program

In the Media

Faculty Work


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