Mastering Media

The visual arts concentration within the art history department offers more than the opportunity to paint or draw. In our media-saturated society, studying and participating “hands-on” in the visual arts gives greater definition to a liberal arts education. “Our program explores the meaning behind the signs and symbols of communication; it gives students the opportunity to study and understand the social and political consequences of imagery,” says Joan Snitzer, the program’s director and senior lecturer. An artist with an MFA from Hunter College, she came to Barnard 20 years ago, and today, in addition to teaching, leads the undergraduate seminar, “Imagery and Form in the Arts.” In order to pursue the concentration, students are required to take a minimum of six art-history courses to gain context and perspective as they approach the creation of their own works and projects. Those who choose the visual arts concentration go on to a diverse array of graduate studies, says Snitzer, often drawing upon other academic disciplines for the senior thesis, which can be in any medium, but requires an artist’s statement that is well written, gives a historical context and/or background, as well as a social rationale, for the project. Says Snitzer, in a voice filled with enthusiasm, “The concentration adds a powerful and creative dimension to their overall academic experience.” Think of it as education “firing on all cylinders….”

-Photographs by Dorothy Hong