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Buff State art, design departments merge


To better enable students to reach their creative potential in an increasingly competitive world, Buffalo State has combined four of its five visual arts departments into one.

Effective this fall, fine arts, design, interior design, and art education fall under the umbrella of the new Art and Design Department. Art Conservation, which is exclusively for graduate students, remains its own department.

“Having one centralized department will be easier for our students. The new configuration should help them plan their classes better and graduate within four years,” said Ben Christy, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. “The studio sessions complement the academic classes. It’s smoother for students, especially if they decide to double-major in a couple of disciplines.”

With this model, students interested in the visual arts can get a broad spectrum of influences early on and then determine the best possible major for them, noted Jörg Schnier, associate professor of art and design who is serving as interim chair.

It also should enable the various programs to work more collaboratively.

“We expect there will be more synergy among faculty,” said Schnier. “We also can eliminate duplication in courses and provide students with interdisciplinary sequencing. We’re setting up a shared foundation curriculum in which students take key art and design introduction courses designed for all studio arts majors.” 

With more than 400 undergraduates declared as majors within the department and 27 full-time faculty members, Art and Design is now one of the largest departments on campus. It contains all the previous programs of art, art education, art history, ceramics, communication design, fibers, interior design, metals/jewelry, painting/drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and wood/furniture. In addition, the department is offering three new certificate programs in digital design and fabrication, fiber arts, and jewelry design. An interdisciplinary media arts program is currently under development.

A recent accreditation visit from the National Association of School of Art and Design (NASAD) provided the impetus for the new configuration.

“They provided positive feedback about the departments overall, but did make suggestions on how to improve our offerings to students,” Christy said.

Merging into a more interdisciplinary model is a trend across schools of arts and design nationwide, Schnier said.

“Freeing art and design education out of the box of territorial thinking will enable our students to dislodge inertia and question the ways they see the world.”

For more information, visit the department website.

An Art and Design faculty exhibition is currently on view in the Czurles-Nelson Gallery in Upton Hall through November 30.

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