Campus Buzz

Campus’s Creative Corner: The Fine Arts Department and Why You Should Consider Taking an Art Class at Fontbonne

Have you ever wondered what is offered within Fontbonne's art department or contemplated taking a class? Find out more about one of campus's hidden gems.

If you’ve ever stepped foot on Fontbonne’s campus, you’ve probably seen it. Maybe you live on the third floor of Southwest Hall. Perhaps you visited the gallery for a class assignment or went to the Blackbox theater to watch your friend perform in a play. Or maybe, if you’re an art major like me, you spend a majority of your days here, chatting with professors and playing the portable version of Super Smash with peers while waiting for your next lecture period. 

But how many students really know what is offered behind the doors of our very own art department? 

Hannah Ehret, Administrative Assistant for the Fine Arts Department and graduate student, breaks down the numbers. 

According to Ehret, the department has a total of 63 full-time students, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. This includes both fine and performing arts majors but does not include part-time students or students who take an art class as an elective. 

Those who are full-time art majors have the opportunity to declare an emphasis, in which they can decide to focus on specific media and subject matter, such as photography, ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, or figurative studies. Figurative studies, one of the most esteemed majors within the department, concentrates on real world references, particularly the human form. 

“We are largely a figurative school,” Ehret discussed.

“We work mainly in the academy style which means that our classes are blended. There’s everyone from first-year up to graduate students in one class, and that just creates a learning environment that’s a little bit more inclusive… Everyone learns from everyone.” 

Senior Alex Arscott, a fine arts major with an emphasis in figurative studies, explained why he decided to study at Fontbonne.

“I wanted to be around someone who really knew how to draw, and that’s what I found here.” 

Arscott continued, “I came because I wanted one program that I was going to push myself at.”

Arscott finalizing a piece for his senior show (Photo by Mara Cressey)

However, art majors are not the only ones who spend their time developing film, throwing clay on the wheel, and copying works from old master painters. 

As a liberal arts university, Fontbonne requires all students intending to graduate to take at least one course in fine arts. Students are given the option to take a class like Art Appreciation, but members of the department often encourage students to take a more hands-on course. 

“If you need the credit, why not do something fun?” Ehret mentioned. “Every major… can find some sort of importance in art in some way.” 

Assistant Professor and Gallery Director Anthony Borchardt agrees with this perspective: “Being a liberal arts university, [we have] that freedom to be able to explore and see other processes and other departments, curriculums.”

“It’s a great opportunity to try something different,” he went on. 

And if students are worried about their artistic abilities, or perhaps their perceived “lack thereof,” Borchardt assures that they shouldn’t be. 

“We primarily will grade off of effort… so if you’re putting forth the time and the effort in to projects then you’re going to be successful,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to have some instruction by great artists, and you’re not going to have those opportunities in the future.” 

Senior Cecilia Jones, a sports management major, took a course in drawing anatomy within the department last semester. 

“I like taking courses that are a little bit different than my major,” Jones said. “I’ve always loved art, but I’ve never been good at it… I wanted to challenge myself in doing something that I’ve never done before.” 

Jones also offered her advice for those non-art majors interested in taking a similar class.

“Talk to the professors beforehand, tell them that you’re interested in taking a course,” she said. “Check out the department [and] try to meet some of the art students.” 

Jones’ end of semester anatomy drawing (Photo courtesy of Cecilia Jones)

“Don’t be afraid of not being good enough,” Jones also stressed. “Get comfortable with the level that you’re at.” 

If students are seeking an opportune time to visit the department, the Fontbonne Fine Art Gallery, which is located on the first floor of the building, hosts multiple artists and opening receptions throughout the semester. All members of the Fontbonne community, including friends and family, are welcome and encouraged to attend. “Portraits,” a juried exhibition, will host its opening reception on February 21st from 6-8 p.m.   

Students interested in taking classes or learning more about the department should direct their questions to Hannah Ehret at hehret@fontbonne.edu

2 comments on “Campus’s Creative Corner: The Fine Arts Department and Why You Should Consider Taking an Art Class at Fontbonne

  1. Mara, I believe in the power of embracing art into your life. I know it has stimulated my spiritual life in so many ways. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your invitation to more wholistic growth….

  2. Heather Norton

    Our art department is a gem–thanks for featuring it! I hope we see more “gems” feature in the future!

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