Visual Arts

The Visual Arts department at Roger Williams University prepares students for future careers in the arts with an interdisciplinary spirit and a global perspective. The Visual Arts faculty consists of active artists who share their experience with students through lively and challenging discussions and critiques. Media exploration is encouraged throughout the program and culminates in the creation of a cohesive body of work that reflects the individual student’s interests.

The major brings together students of diverse backgrounds who explore their creative interests through a range of media experiences. Emphasis of study is placed on historical as well as contemporary theories in the arts so that students may better place their own artwork within a larger context. Students in the program balance craft and conceptual agility and new and traditional media to engage in an increasingly interdisciplinary world. The interdisciplinary nature of the program allows students to explore multiple areas of interest that informs their creative work and gives students a broader skill-set than most arts programs. Our strength is the amount of attention given to each individual student-artist as they develop in the program preparing them for a future career in the arts.

A photo of a sculpture

To fit our students educational and career goals, Roger Williams University offers two degree tracks for visual artists—the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Fine Arts. The BA allows room for double majors or minors to explore a range of courses in the Visual Arts program. The BFA allows students to develop media concentrations in our areas of concentration.

Degree Requirements

The Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts

Click to Open

Roger Williams University offers both the Liberal Arts degree, the Bachelor of Arts and the Professional degree, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts with an opportunity to develop an area of media concentration within the Professional Degree. Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts must satisfy the University Core Curriculum requirements in addition to the major requirements. Bachelor of Arts candidates must successfully complete the 15 courses required for the major as well as sufficient electives to total the 120 credits necessary for the Bachelor of Arts degree. Majors are encouraged to apply electives toward a minor or second major. Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates must successfully complete the 25 courses required for the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Visual Arts students will have a portfolio of their work reviewed by a faculty committee at mid-program and again at the end of the program in a Capstone Review. Senior Visual Arts majors must submit a written statement, participate in an exhibition and produce a portfolio of their work during their last year at the University.

Bachelor of Arts Major Program Requirements

Foundation Course Requirements, 4 courses, 12 credits

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS101Foundations of Drawing
VARTS131Foundations of Sculpture
VARTS161Foundations of Photography
VARTS181Foundations of Painting

Intermediate Studios, 6 courses, 18 credits

The Intermediate Studio sequence is a two-part structure of 2 required courses + 4 intermediate studio options including at least one advanced studio option. Students complete all five required + elective studio courses:

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS262Digital Tools and Methods
VARTS392Intermedia

Students select four (4) elective studios including at least one VARTS studio course at the 400 level or above:

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS201Drawing The Figure
VARTS203Renaissance Drawing Techniques
VARTS204Renaissance Drawing Techniques: The Human Figure
VARTS232Intermediate Sculpture
VARTS233Clay Studio: Hand-building
VARTS234Clay Studio: Wheel Throwing
VARTS241Printmaking: Relief
VARTS242Printmaking: Intaglio
VARTS282Oil Painting
VARTS330Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS351Intermediate Photography
VARTS363Digital Media in 3D: Object and Spaces
VARTS364Film, Animation, and Video
VARTS381Painting The Figure
VARTS382Renaissance Apprentice Workshop
VARTS383The Art of Buon Fresco
VARTS401Advanced Drawing
VARTS430Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS431Topics in Sculpture
VARTS433Advanced Sculpture
VARTS451Topics in Photography/Digital Media
VARTS452Advanced Photography
VARTS464Advanced Film, Animation and Video
VARTS469VARTS COOP
VARTS472Visual Arts Thesis
VARTS481Topics in Painting/Drawing/Printmaking
VARTS530Special Topics in Visual Arts

Advanced Studies, 3 courses, 13 credits

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS471Visual Arts Professional Practices
VARTS491Senior Studio I (5 credits)
VARTS492Senior Studio II (5 credits)

History/Theory, 2 courses, 6 credits

SubjectNumberTitle
AAH121History of Art and Architecture I
AAH122History of Art and Architecture II

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts

Click to Open

Roger Williams University offers both the Liberal Arts degree, the Bachelor of Arts and the Professional degree, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts with an opportunity to develop an area of media concentration within the Professional Degree. Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts must satisfy the University Core Curriculum requirements in addition to the major requirements. Bachelor of Arts candidates must successfully complete the 15 courses required for the major as well as sufficient electives to total the 120 credits necessary for the Bachelor of Arts degree. Majors are encouraged to apply electives toward a minor or second major. Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates must successfully complete the 25 courses required for the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Visual Arts students will have a portfolio of their work reviewed by a faculty committee at mid-program and again at the end of the program in a Capstone Review. Senior Visual Arts majors must submit a written statement, participate in an exhibition and produce a portfolio of their work during their last year at the University.

Bachelor of Fine Arts Major Program Requirements

Foundation Course Requirements, 4 courses, 12 credits

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS101Foundations of Drawing
VARTS131Foundations of Sculpture
VARTS161Foundations of Photography
VARTS181Foundations of Painting

Intermediate Studios, 11 courses, 33 credits

Students complete the two required, then nine additional concentration and elective studio courses.

Two Required courses:

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS262Digital Tools and Methods
VARTS392Intermedia

Concentration and Elective Studios

4 intermediate studios, including at least one advanced studio, and 5 additional Visual Arts elective studios. To create the optional media concentration, a sequence of 4 courses must be in the same media area, i.e.: Film, Animation and Video; Painting, Drawing and Printmaking; Photography and Digital Media or Sculpture including at least one VARTS studio course at the 400 level. Elective studios may be from any of the other media areas.

Film, Animation and Video
SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS363Digital Media in 3D: Object and Spaces
VARTS364Film, Animation, and Video
VARTS451Topics in Photography/Digital Media
VARTS464Advanced Film, Animation and Video
Painting, Drawing and Printmaking
SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS201Drawing The Figure
VARTS203Renaissance Drawing Techniques
VARTS204Renaissance Drawing Techniques: The Human Figure
VARTS241Printmaking: Relief
VARTS242Printmaking: Intaglio
VARTS282Oil Painting
VARTS381Painting The Figure
VARTS382Renaissance Apprentice Workshop
VARTS383The Art of Buon Fresco
VARTS401Advanced Drawing
VARTS481Topics in Painting/Drawing/Printmaking
Photography and Digital Media
SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS351Intermediate Photography
VARTS363Digital Media in 3D: Object and Spaces
VARTS451Topics in Photography/Digital Media
VARTS452Advanced Photography
Sculpture
SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS232Intermediate Sculpture
VARTS233Clay Studio: Hand-building
VARTS234Clay Studio: Wheel Throwing
VARTS431Topics in Sculpture
VARTS433Advanced Sculpture

*May be applied to either the Film, Video and Animation or Photography and Digital Media Concentrations

Additional Intermediate studio options may be applied to all concentration areas:
SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS330Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS430Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS530Special Topics in Visual Art

Advanced Studies, 5 courses, 19 credits

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS469VARTS COOP
VARTS471Visual Arts Professional Practices
VARTS472Visual Arts Thesis
VARTS491Senior Studio I (5 credits)
VARTS492Senior Studio II (5 credits)

History/Theory, 5 courses, 15 credits

SubjectNumberTitle
AAH121History of Art and Architecture I
AAH122History of Art and Architecture II
AAH421Issues in Contemporary Art

Students select 2 History/Theory courses from the following menu: 

SubjectNumberTitle
AAH305Theory and Methods of Art and Architectural History
AAH311American Art
AAH312Modern Art
AAH313African Art
AAH315Art of Buon Fresco
AAH317Giotto to Leonardo
AAH318Michelangelo to Vasari
AAH319History of Italian Renaissance Art
AAH320The Art of Buon Fresco
AAH321Arts & Architecture of the Classical World
AAH322Arts & Architecture of the Medieval World
AAH323Arts & Architecture Islamic World
ARCH324Evolution of Urban Form
ARCH325History of Modern Architecture
ARCH327American Architecture
ARCH328Renaissance Architecture
ARCH329Landscape Arch
AAH330Special Topics in Art and Architectural History
FILM101Introduction to Film Studies
HP341Pre-Industrial America
HP342Industrial America

The Minor in Visual Arts

Click to Open

Visual Art Minors are available in Concentration areas of Film, Animation and Video; Painting, Drawing and Printmaking; Photography and Digital Media and Sculpture. Film, a widely interdisciplinary subject, is located in both the Communications Program and the Visual Arts Program. Both programs work closely together to host a film curriculum that is both diverse and focused. The Communications program emphasizes film culture and history. The Visual Arts Program emphasizes film production.

Minor in Visual Art: Film, Animation and Video

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS101Introduction to Film Studies
VARTS262Digital Tools and Methods
VARTS364Film, Animation, and Video
and three of the following:
VARTS330Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS363Digital Media in 3D: Object and Spaces
VARTS392Intermedia
VARTS430Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS451Topics in Photography/Digital Media
VARTS464Advanced Film, Animation and Video
VARTS530Special Topics in Visual Art Studies
COMM380Visual Media in Cultural Context
FILM400Curation and Festival Production

Minor in Visual Arts: Painting/Drawing/Printmaking

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS101Foundations Drawing
AAH121History of Art and Architecture I
VARTS181Foundations of Painting
and three of the following:
VARTS201Drawing The Figure
VARTS241Printmaking Relief
VARTS242Printmaking: Intaglio
VARTS282Oil Painting
VARTS330Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS381Painting The Figure
VARTS392Intermedia
VARTS401Advanced Drawing
VARTS430Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS481Topics in Painting/Drawing/Printmaking
VARTS530Special Topics in Visual Arts Studies

Minor in Visual Arts: Sculpture

SubjectNumberTitle
VARTS101Foundations Drawing
AAH121History of Art and Architecture I
VARTS131Foundations of Sculpture
and three of the following:
VARTS232Intermediate Sculpture
VARTS233Clay Studio: Hand-building
VARTS234Clay Studio: Wheel Throwing
VARTS330Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS392Intermedia
VARTS430Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS431Topics in Sculpture
VARTS433Advanced Sculpture
VARTS530Special Topics in Visual Arts Studies

Minor in Visual Arts: Photography/Digital Media

SubjectNumberTitle
AAH121History of Art and Architecture I
VARTS161Foundations of Photography
VARTS262Digital Tools and Methods
and three of the following:
VARTS330Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS351Intermediate Photography
VARTS363Digital Media in 3D: Object and Spaces
VARTS392Intermedia
VARTS430Special Topics in Visual Art
VARTS451Topics in Photography/Digital Media
VARTS452Advanced Photography
VARTS530Special Topics in Visual Art Studies

To read more about our academic offerings, or to view full course descriptions, please refer to our University Catalog.

Visual Arts Concentrations

  • Film, Animation and Video
  • Painting, Drawing and Printmaking
  • Photography and Digital Media
  • Sculpture

BFA candidates in Visual Arts have the option to develop an area of concentration within the Professional Degree in one of the above, four media areas based upon their individual interests. Students minoring in Visual Arts, also pursue one of these four concentration areas. A sequence of courses in a medium insures some level of proficiency in that medium beyond the introductory level.

Student working on an art installation

Distinctive Features of the Visual Arts Program

  • A dynamic student and faculty community with diverse interests.
  • Visiting Artists who deliver lectures, have exhibitions on campus and work directly with VARTS students each semester.
  • Semi-private studio space both on and off campus.
  • Internship program in partnership with the RWU Center for Career & Professional Development.
  • Frequent trips to Museums and Galleries in Providence, New York, Boston and beyond.
  • Study abroad in Florence, Italy as well as other global venues.

Portfolio Requirements

A portfolio of 2, 3, and 4 dimensional work demonstrating evidence of an applicants creative potential is required for admission to the Visual Arts program. The intent of the portfolio is to allow the program to begin to assess your emerging potential at this earliest stage in your Arts education. Consistent with the mission of our School, Roger Williams University is interested in and celebrates the variety of expression that applicants demonstrate.  Applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, and we appreciate this variety as the basis for beginning the study of Visual Art at the college level.

Student Work

The Visual Arts program at Roger Williams University is interdisciplinary by design. Students are expected to explore a range of media from painting and ceramics to photography and video. Through the experiences of different media, students are challenged to find their own voice as an artist in work that reflects their individual aims and interests.  Our students develop proficiencies in several media, often combining media in new and unexpected hybrids. Students in VARTS at RWU routinely make high-quality work that we are proud to display throughout the campus community in our Art on Campus program

Film, Animation and Video

Video by Josue Garcia.

Students in Film, Animation and Video courses are empowered to develop their individual voices and ambitiously pursue their interests with this time-based medium. Using a wide variety of the tools of animation and video production, from 3D modeling to experimental video, students build narratives in order to connect with their audience. Students create dynamic media exhibitions every semester and manage the RWU Student Film Festival. 

Painting, Drawing and Printmaking

A Painting by a VARTS student
Self Portrait Palette-Knife painting by Reid Ennis. Beginning with drawing, VARTS students learn to translate their experience of the world around them into mark, line and tone. Painting, both water-based and oil, provides an exploration of color principles and behaviors. Printmaking offers a bridge between drawing and painting in graphic form. In all media, contemporary practices as well as art-historical precedents are emphasized.

Photography and Digital Media

A photo by a VARTS student
Photography by Nicole Stevens. Photography, film and digital, is instant time that records the relationships, seen and suggested, of the photographer and the subject. Students are encouraged to further their curiosities with all photo languages and media to better understand the mechanics and technologies that shape the culture and discipline of witnessing that is called photography.

Sculpture

Sculputure made of flower and weeds
Sculpture is process oriented and experimental, combining the development of intellectual and manual skills in a dynamic studio environment. Students pursue their individual artistic interests through work in traditional and new genre sculptural practices including site-specific installation and collaborative work. Students have access to a woodworking shop, ceramics studio, plaster & fabrication facilities, and digital technologies, to create art in conversation with our time.

See More Student Work

A headshot of Emily Adler

Breaking In

Emily Adler, RWU Class of 2017 Visual Arts

As a visual arts student, Emily Adler learned making great art is only part of a successful career as a professional artist. Knowing how to share your craft effectively is just as important.

Read full story

Our Alumni Are

  • Gallery assistants and administrators
  • Teaching in Arts Education in public schools, private schools, and workshops
  • Art directors or writers at magazines
  • Design consultants
  • Pursuing graduate degrees
  • Working freelance as photographers or own their own businesses as designers