If literacy means the ability to read and write, then Visual and Critical Studies teaches cultural literacy. And that involves the ability to “read”—to understand and interpret art, philosophy and visual thinking of the past and present; and to “write”—to make art. The Visual and Critical Studies department at the School of Visual Arts is a cutting-edge program where students can immerse themselves in both of these projects. This is because we believe that intellectual curiosity and the drive to make art are not mutually exclusive; rather, they enhance and invigorate one another, and in the process give our students an edge in the competitive postgraduate arenas where an academic and practical facility with visual media is crucial.

It’s a simple concept, really: our curriculum is designed for students who want a broad exposure to the studio arts while they simultaneously investigate the historical, cultural and theoretical movements that give those arts shape, dimension and power. We offer a wide range of our own foundation courses, giving students the flexibility to experiment and explore the different mediums in which they can channel their voices. These studio courses include drawing, photography, sculpture, graphic design and digital video. We integrate those studio courses with a rigorous academic curriculum that tackles everything from Aristotle and Shakespeare to Bloom, Lacan and Derrida.

Who’s teaching this innovative curriculum? A faculty of Fulbright and Getty scholars, NEA grant winners, painters, writers, filmmakers, historians, philosophers, photographers and graphic designers—all of whom embody that confluence of creativity and intellect that electrifies and defines New York City.

Add a great lecture series where visiting luminaries address issues like art’s integration with technology, science, political activism, and kitsch; spirited tours through Chelsea’s gallery district; and day trips to museums and galleries in nearby cities where the arts are flourishing and impacting the scene in New York, and it’s not surprising that our enrollment figures have risen steadily and dramatically since our program’s inception.

This is the kind of program you won’t find in another undergraduate college. And what our Visual and Critical Studies students gain from it is an intellectual maturity and skill set that will serve them both inside and outside the studio for years to come. If you believe that critical thinking and historical perspective are just as important as developing your craft, then we have the program, the college and the city just for you.

Visual & Critical Studies