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Liberal Arts & Studio Foundation

Liberal Arts

Every MassArt degree program includes at least nine Liberal Arts courses, designed to provide context, insight, and fresh perspectives for students pursuing the arts.

Freshmen seminars on a range of topics in the humanities and social sciences guide students in paraphrasing, summarizing, analyzing, and evaluating simple and complex texts.

Our writing courses teach the basics of delivering coherent, purposeful, creative, and clear text—a fundamental skill for anyone who will craft an artist’s statement, fill out a grant application, articulate a critique, and so on. Our goal is to help students think critically, write effectively, and develop informed, flexible minds.

Literature and film criticism teach students to discern complex layers of idea and meaning in verbal or cinematic art.

Study of social sciences such as psychology and anthropology helps students to understand individuals, cultures and societies, history, and human behavior within the matrix of time.

Natural science teaches what testable theory and experiment reveal about the physical world in order to gain an understanding of scientific method and principles.

Mathematics teaches logic and skills applicable to material and structural calculations in design projects.

Learning outcomes

  • Taken as a whole, the Liberal Arts curriculum is designed to teach students to:
  • Think, speak, and write clearly and effectively
  • Communicate precisely, cogently, and effectively
  • Know facts, terms and persons important to an art or discipline 
  • Understand the experimental and descriptive bases and logical methods for determining truth in the natural sciences
  • Undertake analysis in a scientific discipline
  • Explain, defend, and critique opposing points of view 
  • Undertake cultural and historical analysis from a variety of perspectives
  • View moral and ethical problems from a variety of perspectives
  • Respect, understand, evaluate, and undertake research in a variety of disciplines
  • Understand and experience arts (such as literature, film, and music) other than visual arts and design
  • Synthesize critical thinking, liberal learning, and studio practice

Studio Foundation

The Studio Foundation program—dedicated to exploration, idea generation, critical thinking, and craftsmanship—provides a comprehensive introduction to studio techniques and media. This curriculum is required of all MassArt students before entering their desired major.

Drawing courses introduce students to formal principles and the breadth of drawing practice. Visual language and Time courses explore two- and four-dimensional principles of visual organization, with a combination of tactile and digital media, photography, and video. Form study guides students through the formal and conceptual foundations of three-dimensional design.

Students learn to take projects through the full creative process, from inception to design construction, presentation, revision, and critique. The Studio Foundation department also has an active program of visiting artists and exhibitions that bring students into contact with local, national, and international artists and designers. Studio, gallery, and museum visits complement the program.

Learning Outcomes

  • Gather information and conduct research
  • Apply research as studio process
  • Study observational thinking in 2D, 3D, and 4D practices
  • Study and apply craft
  • Identify and develop problem solving skills
  • Develop concept
  • Develop imagery
  • Develop goal setting and independent work habits
  • Develop abstract and concrete reasoning and expression
  • Identify, develop, and articulate subjective interests
  • Develop and articulate critical thinking and response (objective and subjective)
  • Study and practice the fundamentals of two-dimensional design
  • Study and practice the fundamentals of three-dimensional design
  • Study and practice the fundamentals of four-dimensional design
  • Study and practice the fundamentals of drawing
  • Study and practice the fundamentals of photographic seeing
  • Study the fundamentals of color and light 
  • Study and apply tactile design skills
  • Study and apply lens- based and digital imaging techniques

Valued across the department and in progress for curricular integration: 

  • Introduce and value sustainability in the life and practice of artists
  • Introduce diverse cultural perspectives
  • Introduce and value role as citizen-artist
  • Study cross-cultural, historic, and contemporary art/design practices

A Gallery Dedicated to Your Foundation

The Brant Gallery is an integral part of the Studio Foundation program—hosting exhibitions, lectures, workshops, interactive events, and providing exhibition opportunities by and for first year students.

It expands the boundaries of the Studio Foundation curriculum by introducing students to contemporary issues in art, including cross-disciplinary approaches and global perspectives. The Brant Gallery is a key part of developing community for first year students.