Explore the arts, learn new techniques, and enrich your proficiency as an artist with a degree in visual arts from Southwestern Michigan College.
With hands-on, studio-based courses balanced with quality instruction in art theory, the visual arts degree will prepare you for advanced studies in related fields.
About the Visual Arts Degree
Whether your passion lies in painting, drawing, photography, or ceramics, the visual arts degree provides a space to improve your skills and deepen your knowledge of the arts.
As a visual arts student, you will take introductory courses in two dimensional design and drawing, developing your visual literacy and observational skills. You’ll explore three-dimensional problem-solving, learning about visual communication and conceptualization. You’ll explore materials, methodologies, and processes, including the new world of digital art and design. With two courses in art history, you will develop a deep knowledge of the evolution of art from prehistory to the modern world, examining cultural developments and how art reflects a transforming society. Courses employ demonstrations, critical dialogue and research, challenging you to engage in art in new ways. The curriculum provides room for many elective courses so that you can specialize in the medium you choose and develop your skills.
Throughout the program, you’ll also complete the general education courses required by most universities so that you transfer ready to dive into the advanced art courses you care about.
Outside the classroom, you’ll have opportunities to be exposed to art and interact with career artists in the on-campus art gallery.
The associate in arts in visual arts is a two-year degree designed to transfer to universities for a bachelor’s degree in related fields.
Statement from the Visual and Performing Arts Department
This is a moment of transformation for our department. We’ve been watching and listening, formulating new approaches and opportunities to develop conversations with our community of learners—with you all. The arts will always be a catalyst for expressing cultural transformation, and our coursework remains uniquely positioned to offer participatory experiences for realizing individual and collective agency. We remain committed to uplifting voices of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists. We are certainly uncertain of how to proceed in this moment of cultural upheaval, and this is and will be our shared frontier. We don’t know what comes next but we know that it must include and be us all.
How does art function? It’s not about solving a problem; it’s about keeping people talking and exploring difficult topics that cannot be expressed in other ways.
The Department of Visual and Performing Arts is committed to maintaining spaces of inclusivity, sensitivity, and shared enculturation. We seek social justice and we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement opposing police oppression and state-sanctioned violence.
Visual art offers a powerful platform for interrogating and responding to systemic racism—for generating new forms and strategies for communication. As an academic environment focused on developing learners at all sites of their journey, we understand our courses to be sites for our shared education—transformative spaces for active listening, critical thinking and building new conversations. Art is a dynamic field of constant change; your work with us will open new pathways for all of our thinking.
Through the experiences of sharing techniques and exploring the practice of making, we are creating time and space for developing your voice. Actively engaging in our program offers a foundation for accessing contemporary art practices and emergent systems of information. Everyone must be able to locate and secure personal spaces to question, contribute, and ultimately grow as a community. Together we will navigate and articulate this new world. We need you and we invite your voice. Southwestern Michigan College can be a nexus for exploration and our mutual trust is vital. This is a moment of transformation for our department and our community. Please join us and we will move forward together.
What You’ll Learn/Courses and Curriculum
View the full curriculum guide for the Associate in Arts in Visual Arts.
What Can I Do With a Visual Degree?
A degree in visual arts can lead to careers as an art teacher, art director, museum art collector, professional artist, and more.
Careers and Salaries Career Option Salary Archivists, Curators and Museum Workers: $49,850 Art Directors: $94,220 Craft and Fine Artists: $48,760 Fashion Designers: $73,790 Interior Designers: $56,040
2019 median pay. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Learn more about visual and performing arts programs at SMC!