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."


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


New Imaginaries + Critical Practices

The two-year Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A) 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 program

Art at 100

Letter from the chair

A man with curly hair wearing glasses and a striped shirt.

Paul Ramírez Jonas

"One hundred years is not a lot of time. For 50-60,000 years, what we now call art has been consistently mixing and hybridizing across cultures. It has been and continues to be borrowed respectfully and not, outright stolen, cast into an imagined future, and revived from its own past. This cultural back-and-forth and side-to-side is a relay between individuals. And this constant motion has often managed to transcend membership, nationality, biology, religion, other forms of identity. Art suggests that we can knit together a self-organized, spontaneous group across cultures and time. Our community is one hundred years old this year."

A man with curly hair wearing glasses and a striped shirt.

Anniversary Lectures & Events

Anniversary Stories

Anniversary Archive

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The AAP Alumni Archive

The AAP Alumni Archive showcases a legacy of forward thinking and pedagogical innovation that inform both what we teach and how we teach creative practice and critical engagement across our disciplines. Students reached out to college graduates from the 1940s–80s to hear their stories and gather selections from their life's work.

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Student Takeovers

  • A person wearing all black standing in front of a studio wall with shelves.

    Christine McDonald (M.F.A. '22)

  • A white wall with an array of pinned photos and posters with lights strong along the ceiling.

    Lauren Peters (B.F.A. '21)

  • A gold and concrete building structure with casted shadows.

    Erin Ibo (B.F.A. '22)

Faculty Work

In the Media


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