Visual Arts

Program Offerings

Offering type
Minor

The Program in Visual Arts, part of the Lewis Center for the Arts, encourages undergraduates to explore visual art and media while developing their creative skills under the aegis of a liberal arts education. Courses are offered in drawing, filmmaking, graphic design, media, painting, photography and sculpture. Studio courses emphasize direct, hands-on art making under the guidance of practicing contemporary artists.

Most courses in the program are open to all students at Princeton. A few courses are by application only, and a few are reserved for VIS minors and students in the Practice of Art track only. Most courses are letter graded (not pass/D/fail) and may be taken in fulfillment of the distribution requirement in literature and arts. Some summer courses and study abroad may qualify for credit for Practice of Art students, visual arts program minor students, and applicants for the visual arts program minor who have previously completed at least one VIS course. AP credit is not accepted.

For students interested in pursuing a thesis in studio arts or film production, there are two pathways. The first is Practice of Art, a track offered by the Department of Art and Archaeology and administered by the Program in Visual Arts. The second option is a visual arts minor earned in addition to a student's departmental major.

Goals for Student Learning

Students in the Practice of Art track or engaged in the visual art minor will learn strategies and skills for making artworks from conception to exhibition. In classes, students will be introduced to contemporary and historical figures in art as precedents for their own projects. Instructors commonly employ prompts for assignments that build students’ conceptual rigor and technical proficiency. Students will learn analysis of visual art by engaging in peer critique sessions and through presentations by visiting artists. Independent studio work required for the visual arts minor encourages students to synthesize their curiosity with their lived experience to make artworks that can cohere into an exhibition. This is the work that professional artists do. Over the course of two years in the visual arts program, students will learn techniques to translate material into symbolic form and how to expand their ideas into conceptual frameworks.

Admission to the Program

Admission to the visual arts minor is selective. During the first week following spring break, sophomores submit an application and a portfolio of creative work to the Lewis Center for the Arts administrative office. By early April, the admissions committee will notify those students who have been accepted into the program. For specific prerequisites, please see the individual areas below.

Program of Study

Practice of Art Track in the Department of Art and Archaeology

Practice of Art is an intensive studio concentration in the visual arts that culminates in a creative senior thesis. For program requirements, see the Practice of Art description under the Department of Art and Archaeology. Students who declare a Practice of Art track are granted admission into the visual arts minor. If a student decides to change their focus from the Practice of Art, they must re-apply for the visual arts minor.

The Visual Arts Minor

A visual arts minor will be awarded to students concentrating in another academic department who successfully complete a substantial program of studio work in art or film production and a minimal supplement of seminars and art history courses. Students interested in applying for the visual arts minor should submit a portfolio in the spring term of sophomore year. Students must have completed at least one visual arts studio or film production course before being admitted to the program. One course in the Department of Art and Archaeology is also highly recommended.

Course Requirements for Visual Arts Minor. A total of seven courses, including two required seminars, from the Program in Visual Arts and the Department of Art and Archaeology, as follows:

  • Three visual arts studio courses or film production courses, in at least two different media, and at least one 300- or 400-level course. For film students, screenwriting courses are accepted as a different media from film production courses.
  • VIS 392 Artist and Studio is a fall seminar required for all junior year Practice of Art students and students engaged in the visual arts minor. Concentrating on the traditions, challenges and rewards of studio practice through readings, discussions, studio critiques and a culminating exhibition of artist's books, VIS 392 provides students with historical context as well as contemporary theory of how best to engage in a meaningful studio practice. In conjunction with the seminar, each junior receives their own art studio. Please note that film students are required to take VIS 419 (The Film Seminar) in the spring of their junior year as one of the two required film seminars. They may take VIS 392 as their second required seminar or find another film-related seminar on campus that qualifies, with prior approval from film faculty.
  • VIS 416 Exhibition Issues and Methods is a fall seminar required for all senior year Practice of Art students and students engaged in the visual arts minor. This course provides a formal structure for students to study, present and discuss various issues and strategies for exhibiting art as they prepare for their spring thesis exhibition. Throughout the course, there will be presentations from visiting artists as well as field trips to professional artists’ studios, galleries and museums. Please note that film students are not required to take VIS 416.
  • One course from Art and Archaeology in the modern period (19th century to the present). Please note that film students can substitute a film history/analysis course offered on campus, with prior approval from a film faculty member in consultation with the visual arts director’s office.
  • As one of the seven required courses, a student can matriculate either an additional VIS studio course or any ART course. Please note that film students can substitute a film production course, film history course or relevant global seminar.

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work

Students will be assigned one adviser in the fall and a different adviser for the spring, both chosen from the Program in Visual Arts faculty. Each student is assigned a studio workspace for the year in the loft of 185 Nassau. In lieu of writing a fall paper, students will conceive and produce a 32-page artist's book for their fall independent work. The independent work is done in consultation with each student's adviser.

Over the spring semester, students prepare independent work in their studios, in consultation with their spring semester adviser, culminating in an exhibition as part of the junior thesis group show.

Please note that film students work with one adviser throughout their junior year to create a junior film.

Senior Independent Work

Students are assigned a primary adviser from the visual arts faculty that they will work with for the entire year. Students are assigned semiprivate studios on the second floor of 185 Nassau. Each student’s independent study culminates with a thesis show that is exhibited at one of the Lewis Center galleries.

Faculty

  • Director

    • Jeffrey Whetstone
  • Associate Director

    • Pamela E. Lins
  • Executive Committee

    • Elena Araoz, Theater, LCA
    • Michael W. Cadden, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Tina M. Campt, Art and Archaeology
    • Jane F. Cox, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Tina Fehlandt, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Martha Friedman, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Aleksandar Hemon, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Brian E. Herrera, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • A.M. Homes, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Rebecca J. Lazier, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Yiyun Li, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Pamela E. Lins, Visual Arts, LCA
    • Susan S. Marshall, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Moon Molson, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Paul B. Muldoon, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • David W. Reinfurt, Visual Arts, LCA
    • Joe Scanlan, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Patricia Smith, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Susan Wheeler, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Jeffrey Whetstone, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Rhaisa Williams, Lewis Center for the Arts
    • Stacy E. Wolf, Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Sits with Committee

    • Colleen Asper
    • Troy G. Michie
  • Professor

    • Tina M. Campt
    • Deana Lawson
    • Joe Scanlan
    • Jeffrey Whetstone
  • Assistant Professor

    • Moon Molson
  • Lecturer with Rank of Professor

    • James Welling
  • Professor of the Practice

    • David W. Reinfurt
  • Senior Lecturer

    • Martha Friedman
    • Pamela E. Lins
  • Lecturer

    • Colleen Asper
    • Lex Brown
    • Jennifer Calivas
    • Laura Coombs
    • MJ Daines
    • Anne Eder
    • Daniel Heyman
    • Troy G. Michie
    • Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt
    • Mira E. Putnam
    • Jess Rowland
    • Tim Szetela

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Courses

VIS 201 - Drawing I (also ARC 201) Fall LA

This course approaches drawing as a way of thinking and seeing. Students will be introduced to a range of drawing issues, as well as a variety of media, including charcoal, graphite, ink, and oil stick. Subject matter includes still life, the figure, landscape, and architecture. Representation, abstraction, and working from imagination will be explored. A structured independent project will be completed at the end of the term. Two studio classes, five hours total per week. T. Michie, L. Brown

VIS 202 - Drawing I (also ARC 202) Spring LA

This course approaches drawing as a way of thinking and seeing. Students will be introduced to a range of drawing issues, as well as a variety of media, including charcoal, graphite, ink, and oil stick. Subject matter includes still life, the figure, landscape, and architecture. Representation, abstraction, and working from imagination will be explored. A structured independent project will be completed at the end of the term. Two studio classes, five hours total per week. P. Lins, T. Michie, L. Brown

VIS 203 - Painting I (also ARC 327) Fall LA

An introduction to the materials and methods of painting. The areas to be covered are color and its interaction, the use of form and scale, painting from a model, painting objects with a concern for their mass, and interaction with light. Two three-hour studio classes, five hours a week. C. Asper, P. Lins

VIS 204 - Painting I (also ARC 328) Spring LA

An introduction to the materials and methods of painting. The areas to be covered are color and its interaction, the use of form and scale, painting from a model, painting objects with a concern for their mass, and interaction with light. Two studio classes, five hours total per week. E. Aschheim, C. Asper, P. Lins

VIS 211 - Analog Photography Fall LA

An introduction to the processes of photography through a series of problems directed toward personal expression and darkroom techniques. Weekly laboratory sessions will explore the critical issues of the medium in relation to both student work and examples of photographs curated from the history of the medium. One three-hour and fifty-minute class and two hours of independent laboratory. D. Lawson, J. Whetstone

VIS 212 - Analog Photography Spring LA

An introduction to the processes of photography through a series of problems directed toward personal expression and darkroom techniques. Weekly laboratory sessions will explore the critical issues of the medium in relation to both student work and examples of photographs curated from the history of the medium. One three-hour and fifty-minute class and two hours of independent laboratory D. Lawson, J. Whetstone

VIS 213 - Digital Photography Fall/Spring LA

A seminar and lab that explores the aesthetic and theoretical implications of digital technology in relation to photography. The emphasis is on making the photographic print in the digital work space. Class will consist of both independent and collaborative projects. One two-hour class, one three-hour laboratory. Prerequisites: 211 or 212, or instructor's permission. J. Whetstone, J. Calivas

VIS 221 - Sculpture I Fall LA

A studio introduction to sculpture, particularly the study of form, space, and the influence of a wide variety of materials and processes on the visual properties of sculpture. Students will develop an understanding of contemporary sculpture and a basic technical facility in a variety of materials and processes. Two studio classes, five hours per week. J. Scanlan

VIS 222 - Sculpture I Spring LA

A studio introduction to sculpture, particularly the study of form, space, and the influence of a wide variety of materials and processes on the visual properties of sculpture. Students will develop an understanding of contemporary sculpture and a basic technical facility in a variety of materials and processes. Two studio classes, five hours per week. M. Friedman, A. Yao

VIS 242 - Film Genres: The First Five Decades of Cinema Not offered this year LA

A historical examination of a film genre--e.g., comedy, documentary, detective film (also called film noir). The object of the course will be the understanding of the uniquely cinematic aspects of each genre, studied against the backdrop of parallel literary genres (e.g., comedy from Aristophanes to Beckett; documentary fiction and essays; 19th- and 20th-century detective fiction). One genre will be the topic of the course each year. Two 90-minute classes, one film screening. Staff

VIS 261 - How to Make a Film Not offered this year LA

A film/video course introducing the techniques of shooting and editing digital video. Works of film/video art are analyzed in order to explore the development of, and innovations in, cinematic language. Production is oriented toward film/video as a visual art, including narrative, documentary, and experimental genres. Several short video projects produced during the semester. Two studio classes, five hours per week. Prerequisite: instructor's permission. Staff

VIS 262 - How to Make a Film Not offered this year LA

A film/video course introducing the techniques of shooting and editing digital video. Works of film/video art are analyzed in order to explore the development of, and innovations in, cinematic language. Production is oriented toward film/video as a visual art, including narrative, documentary, and experimental genres. Several short video projects produced during the semester. Two studio classes, five hours per week. Prerequisite: instructor's permission. Staff

VIS 303 - Intermediate Painting Not offered this year LA

This course is designed to allow students to explore more deeply the process and meaning of painting. Students will complete a set of structured assignments and are encouraged to develop an independent direction. Contemporary critical theory is integrated into the course. Two studio classes, five hours per week. Prerequisite: 203, 204 and instructor's permission. Staff

VIS 304 - Intermediate Painting Not offered this year LA

This course is designed to allow students to explore more deeply the process and meaning of painting. Students will complete a set of structured assignments and are encouraged to develop an independent direction. Contemporary critical theory is integrated into the course. One studio class, four hours per week. Prerequisite: 203, 204 and instructor's permission. C. Asper, P. Lins

VIS 309 - Printmaking I Spring LA

An introduction to fundamental techniques of copper plate etching, and relief printing. Assignments focus on applications of various printmaking techniques, while encouraging independent development of subject matter. Critiques will occur throughout the term. Students are encouraged to draw regularly outside of class to cultivate themes and content applicable to their prints. Field trips to the University's museum and the library's graphics collection will complement class work. Two studio classes, five hours per week. D. Heyman

VIS 310 - Documentary Filmmaking in Kenya (also AFS 312/ENV 308/GLS 312) Not offered this year LA

VIS 313 - Intermediate Photography Fall LA

A continuation of 211, 212, or 213 this course focuses on hybridizing analog and digital technologies using the the view camera and making a cohent body of work. The connections between traditions of art, philosophy, science, and photography will continue to be important. One three-hour class and three hours of independent laboratory. Prerequisites: 211, 212, or equivalent experience and instructor's permission. D. Lawson, J. Whetstone

VIS 317 - Topics in German Film History and Theory (also ART 383/ECS 308/GER 308) Fall/Spring ECLA

VIS 320 - Special Topics in Contemporary Practice (also DAN 304/MUS 301/THR 321) LA

VIS 331 - Ceramic Sculpture Fall LA

This course is designed for students who are interested in learning the fundamentals of working with clay. A wide variety of hand-building techniques will be taught, enabling students to make utilitarian vessels as well as sculptural forms. Students will learn about glazing and colored engobe application methods and how to operate electric and gas kilns. Studio work will be complemented by readings, field trips, and slide presentations.Two studio classes, five hours per week. Staff

VIS 332 - Ceramic Sculpture Not offered this year LA

This course is designed for students who are interested in learning the fundamentals of working with clay. A wide variety of hand-building techniques will be taught, enabling students to make utilitarian vessels as well as sculptural forms. Students will learn about glazing and colored engobe application methods and how to operate electric and gas kilns. Studio work will be complemented by readings, field trips, and slide presentations. Two studio classes, five hours per week. Staff

VIS 339 - What is Vernacular Filmmaking? - Rhetoric for Cinema Studies (also COM 341/ECS 341/HUM 341) LA

VIS 341 - Women and Film (also GSS 306) Not offered this year LA

VIS 342 - The Cinema from World War II until the Present (also COM 361) Not offered this year LA

The history of sound and color film produced since World War II. Emphasis on Italian neorealism, French New Wave, American avant-garde, and the accomplishments of such major filmmakers as Bergman, Hitchcock, Bresson, and Antonioni. Modernism in film will be a central consideration. One three-hour class, weekly film screenings. Staff

VIS 343 - Major Filmmakers Not offered this year LA

This seminar will treat in depth the work of two or three filmmakers of major importance. Specific subjects will vary. Staff

VIS 344 - Special Topics in Film History Not offered this year LA

This seminar will deal in some detail with an aspect of film history, focusing on an important movement or exploring a significant issue. Specific topics and prerequisities will vary. Staff

VIS 346 - Brazilian Cinema (also LAS 319/POR 319) LA

VIS 347 - Topics in French Cinema (also FRE 391) LA

VIS 353 - Ethical Dimensions of Contemporary Russian Cinema (also RES 316/SLA 316) Not offered this year EM

VIS 361 - Intermediate Video and Film Production Not offered this year LA

A second-level film/video workshop focusing on digital media production. Short works of film/video art will be analyzed in class as a guide to the issues of aesthetic choice, editing structure, and challenging one's audience. Students complete two short videos and a longer final project, and view one film each week outside of class time. Prerequisites: 261 or 262 and instructor's permission. One three-hour seminar. M. Molson

VIS 362 - Intermediate Video and Film Production Not offered this year LA

A second-level film/video workshop focusing on digital media production. Short works of film/video art will be analyzed in class as a guide to the issues of aesthetic choice, editing structure, and challenging one's audience. Students complete two short videos and a longer final project, and view one film each week outside of class time. Prerequisites: 261 or 262 and instructor's permission. One three-hour seminar. M. Molson

VIS 372 - Costume Design (also THR 317) Not offered this year LA

VIS 392 - Artist and Studio (also ART 392) Fall LA

A required seminar for art and archaeology Program 2 majors and visual arts certificate students emphasizing contemporary art practices and ideas. The course addresses current issues in painting, drawing, sculpture, film, video, and photography, with an emphasis on developing a studio practice. Critiques of students' work, and excursions to artists' studio round out the course. One three-hour seminar. M. Friedman

VIS 403 - Painting II LA

A studio course focused on advanced problems in painting practice, including pictorial structure in abstraction and representation, color in relationship to space and light, working process, and materials. This course, although structured, encourages development of independent work. Group critiques will be conducted. Students gain awareness of historical models as well as contemporary art, as they build and analyze the relationship between student work and contemporary painting culture. Two studio sessions-five hours a week. Prerequisites: 303 or 304 and instructor's permission. P. Lins

VIS 404 - Painting II Spring LA

A studio course focused on advanced problems in painting practice, including pictorial structure in abstraction and representation, color in relationship to space and light, working process, and materials. This course, although structured, encourages development of independent work. Group critiques will be conducted. Students gain awareness of historical models as well as contemporary art, as they build and analyze the relationship between student work and contemporary painting culture. One four-hour studio class. Prerequisites: 303 or 304 and instructor's permission. C. Asper

VIS 406 - Special Topics in Screenwriting (also CWR 403) Not offered this year LA

VIS 411 - Advanced Questions in Photography LA

Student-initiated problems in photography will be explored in close working relationship with the instructor. Emphasis will be on integrating practice and critical thought. One three-hour class, three hours of independent laboratory. Prerequisites: VIS 211 or VIS 212; and VIS 313 or VIS 315; or permission of instructor. D. Lawson, J. Welling

VIS 417 - Special Topics in Film Production Not offered this year LA

This class will explore the art of storytelling through the aesthetics of film editing. By focusing on the editing process, students will not only learn how to edit their work but also how to better plan the writing, casting, sound design, and shooting of a film to better serve the editing process. Through screenings of award-winning films, informal class discussions with their directors, and exclusive access to raw scenes and footage, students will learn how to conceptualize the entire film production process as well as be introduced to accomplished professionals in the field. Staff

VIS 421 - Sculpture II Spring LA

A studio course in which formal problems are raised and explored through a range of materials. The central focus is on analysis and exploration of the nature of sculptural space. One four-hour studio class. Prerequisites: 221 or 222 and instructor's permission. M. Friedman

VIS 442 - Film Theory (also COM 430) Not offered this year LA

An examination of the central texts and abiding issues of the theory of cinema. Properties of the shot as a unit of film construction and its relationship to the space of reality are analyzed. Different kinds of film structures and their theoretical underpinnings are studied. Staff

VIS 443 - Topics in Modern Italian Cinema (also ITA 310) HA

VIS 444 - Cinema and the Related Arts (also COM 444) Not offered this year LA

A seminar examining the ways in which filmmakers have used one of the other arts as part of the self-definition of cinema as an autonomous art. One or two such interactions will be the focus of the course, and will vary by term (e.g., painting, architecture, poetry, narrative fiction). Staff

VIS 445 - Fascism in Italian Cinema (also ITA 312) HA

VIS 446 - Marxism in Italian Cinema (also ITA 313) LA

VIS 462 - Advanced Video and Film Production LA

A third-level film/video course to further develop video production skills. Students have the option of spending the term either creating a single long work or a series of short pieces. Short weekly shooting exercises. Students view one film each week outside of class time. Two studio classes, five hours per week. Prerequisite: 361 or 362 and instructor's permission. M. Molson

VIS 471 - Special Topics in Visual Arts Not offered this year LA

Advanced work in special areas of the various visual media or in areas where the traditional media intersect (for example, typography, video, photoprintmaking). Specific topics will change from year to year, and prerequisites will vary. Staff

VIS 472 - Special Topics in Visual Arts Not offered this year LA

Advanced work in special areas of the various visual media or in areas where the traditional media intersect (for example, typography, video, photoprintmaking). Specific topics will change from year to year, and prerequisites will vary. Staff