University of Houston School of Art
Art, Design & Risk-Taking
Art and design are never products of the assimilation of a body of knowledge, but rather the result of risk-taking within a field of “not knowing.” We prepare young artists and designers by providing them with a secure environment in which to risk failure, as well as the technical, conceptual and contextual tools to inform that risk.
A beneficial academic environment will provide those “languages” while encouraging the uniqueness of speech. To create these nurturing environments, we have to maintain both an institutional agility—an ability to respond appropriately and meaningfully to change—and a clear, collective sense of the primacy of each student.
At the School of Art, we provide the student profound expertise in the art disciplines coupled with the room to play and risk at combining, deconstructing, and re-constructing one or several of those disciplines. Programs expand or contract based on individual need and interest. We have that flexibility because we are large enough (775+ majors) to sustain the insularity of an atelier environment that is also embedded within and has access to the vast resources of a premier research institution.
It is the best of both worlds.
Writing Historically, Thinking Critically
The School of Art brings the world of a major research university to the student: Art History majors and minors, as well as studio majors, work with faculty and the city's renowned art collections to experience the art world through world-class scholarship and criticism.
We offer the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in Painting, Photography/Digital Media, Sculpture and Graphic Design, and the MFA in Interdisciplinary Practices and Emerging Forms (IPEF). We offer the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Art, as well as the BA and MA degrees in Art History.
In addition to these solid programs, we are able to expand our areas of expertise in a seemingly limitless way, redefining interdisciplinary study. Through a cooperative network within the university, a student with an interest in sociology, anthropology, biology, computer sciences, or poetry (to name a few), would have access to some of the finest scholars and fully developed programs in those fields. This extends the potential reach of each student, so that he or she is working within a fundamentally dynamic, multidisciplinary environment, with the ability to hybridize research to address unique interests and areas of investigation.
Other assets that support our academic structures include The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, a leader in the field of interdisciplinary programming and the Blaffer Art Museum, one of the country's most influential university art galleries. Both organizations present innovative, challenging exhibitions and programs that bring the university and the extended community into closer engagement with important cultural issues of our time.
The University of Houston, founded in 1927, is the most ethnically diverse research university in the nation, and the leading urban teaching and research institution in Texas. The University has over 34,000 students and 12 colleges offering a total of 291 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional degrees. UH is home to over forty research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic, and governmental entities.
Located on 548 wooded acres 2 miles from downtown, with well equipped classrooms, high-tech laboratories, generous study facilities, and varied and rich cultural resources and amenities, the UH campus affords students an optimum environment for study and research. Outstanding facilities include six campus libraries with total collective holdings of more than 2.4 million volumes, 4 million microform units, 20,000 research journal subscriptions, and networked workstations accessing numerous electronic databases, journals and books.
In addition to an extensive collection of public art, campus landmarks include the Moores School of Music, the Science and Engineering Research and Classroom Complex, and LeRoy and Lucile Melcher Center for Public Broadcasting, which houses KUHT-TV/Houston PBS (the nation’s first educational television station), KUHF-FM, the Center for Public Policy polling center, three theaters and performing arts venues, and much more.
Houston (our extended campus) is the fourth largest city in the country and third-largest visual arts center outside of New York City and Los Angeles. It is a city with world-class cultural institutions including:
- The Menil Collection, with exquisite concentrations in Antiquity, Medieval, Tribal, and Twentieth-Century Art, as well as annexes with permanent installations of work by Cy Twombly and Dan Flavin
- The Contemporary Arts Museum, with recent major exhibitions of Pipilotti Rist, Kiki Smith, and Glen Ligon, to name a few
- The encyclopedic Museum of Fine Arts Houston, boasting a total of 300,000 square feet of space dedicated to a collection of more than 55,000 artworks dating from antiquity to the present
In addition, Houston has an established and thriving commercial gallery structure, dynamic alternative spaces, and a large and generous community of practicing artists. Houston is also home to the largest number of performing arts seats in a metropolitan district outside of New York, and internationally recognized organizations including the Houston Ballet, the Houston Symphony, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Alley Theater.
The benefits of a School of Art located within an established, international visual arts center cannot be underestimated.
The SOA faculty is comprised of 26 permanent full-time and numerous visiting, adjunct, and clinical members who are practicing, professional artists, designers and art historians.
School of Art faculty have received grants from prestigious foundations such as the Guggenheim Foundation, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Foundation and many others. In addition to receiving extensive commissions, residencies, awards and critical attention, studio faculty have exhibited their works in major museums and galleries around the world, and in important exhibitions including the Whitney Biennial, the Sao Paulo International Biennale, and the Venice Biennale. The art historians publish widely, conducting research both in the United States and abroad, and the designers receive awards and recognition for their contributions to their respective fields.
We teach by example.