VIU Visual Art student Lucy Bonar works on a project in a ceramics class.
A new Bachelor of Arts Major in Visual Art at Vancouver Island University (VIU) will offer students a professional focus in all aspects of studio art as well as academic classroom experience and experiential learning outside the classroom.
VIU is the second post-secondary institution in the province to offer a BA Major in Visual Art and this is the sole degree of its kind on Vancouver Island. (The University of BC is the other institution in the province offering a BA major in Visual Art.)
Professor Pamela Speight, Co-chair of VIU’s Visual Art department, says the Visual Art Minor has been very popular at VIU, and many students in recent years have been asking for a BA Major in the discipline. Visual Art programs have been offered at VIU for more than 35 years, she adds.
“Some of our current Visual Art students were in tears when they learned about the new Major – they had been waiting and asking for it for so long, expressing a lot of interest.”
The BA Major in Visual Art offers students the opportunity to complement their degree with courses in other disciplines including Business, Marketing, Theatre, Biology, History, Psychology, Anthropology, Education, Science, Media Studies and Creative Writing, to name a few.
“With the BA Major in Visual Art, students are required to take a few more electives, and they can take them in courses that would expand their visual art career,” Speight says.
Students pursuing the new Major will also find three new courses added to the Visual Art curriculum: Art Careers/Curatorial Practices; Advanced Studio: Multi-Disciplinary; and, offered in the second year of implementation, Art of West Coast First Nations.
Post-secondary education in visual art prepares students not only with the technical skills honed in their post-secondary training and practice, but also with critical thinking, visual literacy and career adaptability skills, adds Speight. She points to a November 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal titled “A Fine-Arts Degree May Be a Better Choice Than You Think”, which investigates the benefits of visual arts education and careers. Using US data, the article dispels the myth that all art school graduates struggle financially, or lack in career choices or career satisfaction.
Speight says visual art graduates have choices that include practicing as a professional artist, working in galleries, museums and cultural facilities, teaching, curating and museology. In fact, she adds, visual art graduates are successful in a wide variety of careers where an artist’s creativity and approach to problem-solving become very attractive to organizations seeking skilled employees.
“I think people in the fine arts look at the world in a different way,” Speight says.
Report courtesy of Vancouver Island University