The Art Department at Salisbury University has really grown in recent years, from a starting point of about 50 majors in the early 2000's, to currently over 300 art majors. Our full-time faculty have more than tripled in number during that time. This has allowed us to keep classes small, with lots of personal attention aimed at developing the students’ skills and vision. We have the only on-campus hot glass shop in the state. This popular and exciting area allows students to try their hand at an ancient medium, born of earth and fire. On the other hand, the Integrated Media Center (IMC) is a collaborative digital media space where the Art Department’s digital photography and new media students collaborate with students from the Music and Communication Arts departments. The IMC features a full HD television production studio and a professional audio recording studio, along with a fully equipped digital photography Macintosh studio and printing lab.
At some schools, art and design have gone their separate ways, but not at SU. Graphic design is our most popular track within the major, but we believe the best graphic designers are those with interests outside of the Mac Lab, too. On the other hand, painters, sculptors and glass artists in the 21st century must know their way around digital images and basic Web design. So, we require our B.F.A. majors, whatever their upper-level track may be, to take art electives in other areas of the department as well. We have heard repeatedly from visiting arts professionals that the sort of diverse creative problem solving students experience in a program like ours makes them more effective artists and designers when they go out into the world.
Art classes at SU count for four credits each. Similar courses at most schools are offered for just three credits. This means that art students at Salisbury take fewer, more intensive courses each semester. They spend more time in each studio class creating artwork for their portfolios and interacting with teacher and classmates. We have added faculty as the department has grown, keeping class sizes small and personal attention at the center of our commitment to students. Our faculty members are also dedicated professional artists. Each of them carries on a serious studio art or professional design practice.
B.F.A. graphic design track majors are required to take part in a professional internship. Students often tell us that their internship experience was extremely important in the transition from student to working designer. We have developed relationships with over 100 local and regional businesses with graphic design internship programs. Many students take part in an internship “back home” during the summer, so a lot of our partnering internship businesses are in nearby metropolitan areas like Baltimore and Washington.
We host several visiting artists every semester in the Art Department and University Galleries. Recent visiting artists included: graphic designer and poster artist John Foster; Mark Amerika, a leader in Remix Culture, who exhibited his work at our Electronic Gallery; and “Plastic Fantastic,” a collaborative public sculpture made of recycled bottles that serves as an experimental performance space. We have hosted workshops in “Studio Lighting for Photographers” and a new 3D animation software application. We even welcomed a former student who came back for a visit to talk about his experiences (and his success) in the world of graphic design in New York City.