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Department of Fine Arts
Last updated 11/4/2002

Knowledge and skill goals for this undergraduate degree program are recorded in the most recent CU-Boulder catalog.

In some summaries of assessment activity, goals are referred to by number (e.g., K-2 is knowledge goal 2).

Activity in 2001-02
  • Art History
  • Studio Art
  • Overall Program Changes
  • Activity in 1998-1999
  • Art History
  • Studio Arts
  • Program Changes
  • Activity in 1999-2000
  • Studio Arts
  • Art History
  • Overall Program Changes
  • Activity prior to 1998
  • Studio Arts
  • Art History
  • Exit Surveys
  • Program Changes

  • Activity in 2001-02

    For the 2001-02 assessment, we consulted two faculty members from peer institutions: Melanie Yazzie, an assistant professor in the School of Art at the University of Arizona, and Patrick Frank, an assistant professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Kansas. Prof. Yazzie evaluated the performance of the degree program in studio art, Prof. Frank the program in art history.

    Part One: Art History

    Professor Frank read papers from two art history classes; Roman Architecture and Art and the Digital Divide. His assessment of the papers from the Roman Architecture class was that generally speaking, the quality of the papers was quite high. He felt that there was a broad variety of topics and the papers seemed to be well researched and organized.

    His constructive comments for suggested change included providing students an opportunity to discuss in class or present short papers as "tune-ups" to a large research project, and encouraging them to move beyond information gathering to include original insights or fresh subject matter. He also wondered if the papers couldn't be made more relevant to the contemporary world.

    In response to the papers that he read for Professor Rivera's class on Art and the Digital Divide, he said that in rating them with respect to the above-mentioned knowledge and skill goals, he would have to have indicated "not-applicable" for each. This was largely because the course focused on two major areas not included in the list; those of learning a specific skill and practical experience outside of the classroom.

    Professor Frank was impressed that the students were made personally aware of a social problem and were actively involved in solving it. His suggestions for improving the course were to "add more meat to its intellectual component" and to provide more historical context for dealing with the problem.


    Part Two: Studio Art

    Professor Yazzie reviewed "Full Frontal", the BFA exhibition of student work shown in the CU Art Galleries in May of 2002. The exhibition included the work of the 28 students in the BFA Seminar class, a senior capstone course designed to provide BFA students with professional training in the preparation of work for an exhibit. This included the activities associated with an exhibit; in addition to the creation of the artwork, students had to consider its installation, publicity, and didactic materials.

    She found the work to be "complex, varied and above the normal work seen at most BFA shows". Further, she states, "I have looked at work by undergraduates in various art programs in and outside of the country and find the Boulder group of work to be of an exceptional level."

    Her report includes numerous comments by the students concerning the seminar. Some of the comments praised the course and the program for its professional guidance, while others explained their reasons for not considering further study at this time. In both cases, Professor Yazzie felt that the comments indicated that the professors were doing their job and that the students "are aware of the value of their education, of the art making process and the right of ownership to their art making." Further, she notes that "the University of Colorado-Boulder is an excellent example of a Department of Fine Arts that helps students see that graduate school is not to be taken lightly".

    Professor Yazzie's primary criticism of the exhibition was the lack of space allowed for each artist. She urged the department to find ways to give the work more space to be seen without the various pieces appearing to be in conflict with one another. Likewise, she recommends additional funding for a new art building.


    Part Three: Overall Program Changes

    The department has revised its curriculum by creating a new foundation course for all studio majors, Introduction to Art. This course provides an initial studio experience in a variety of media, as well as training in conceptual and formal principles regarded as fundamental to all studio practice. It is a prerequisite for all studio courses and as such is also an attempt to try to control the unprecedented growth of the major population in Fine Arts during the last five years. The course is taught in small sections primarily by graduate students. In addition, a faculty member teaches one section of the course and an MFA Practicum that coordinates the graduate students and provides them an opportunity to work closely with the faculty on the presentation and review of the course.

    New requirements also include passing two World Art History courses as prerequisites to any beginning studio coursework. A review of student portfolios by area faculty for admission to the BFA program was instituted in the fall of 2001. The department has also submitted a proposal to the College of Arts and Sciences for a pre- major program in fine arts. This proposal represents an effort on the part of the faculty to try to control the major population and insure that all fine arts majors have an opportunity to take the courses that they need to fulfill major requirements. That proposal has been reviewed by the College and is currently in the process of being re-evaluated in the department.


    ACTIVITY IN 1999-2000

    This report contains three parts. Part one focuses on the BFA exhibition and the results of a review that was conducted on May 2nd. Two outside evaluators, Mary Jane Edwards and Patrick Fahey, were invited to the Boulder campus to view and critique the artwork of our graduating seniors. Their report is included with consolidated comments by BFA students in the exhibition and other BA graduates whose observations and suggestions about their art education at CU have been summarized. Part two includes a report about the art history area solicited and summarized from a specially designed art history outcomes/assessment student questionnaire. Part three addresses recent program changes for the department.


    Outside experts:
    Mary Jane Edwards, Chair
    Department of Art -- Box 3138
    University of Wyoming Laramie, WY 82071-3138

    Patrick Fahey Assistant Professor
    Department of Art
    Colorado State University
    Fort Collins, CO 80523-1770

    Their report follows:

    Critical Analysis of the BFA Exhibition

    First impressions:
    • Physical layout of the space and the display of the work was inviting and considers how each piece can be effectively presented.
    • Good opportunity for students to view their work in a professional context and to see their work in relationship to their peers.

    Overall Quality:

    • Overall quality is good with a full range of work from excellent to fair represented. Some of the work is very good and several students exhibited exceptional work in the development of technical handling of materials and processes, aesthetic sensitivity and conceptual sophistication.
    • Some of the students would have benefited from more selective editing or further development of work before exhibiting. Although all students generally had clear conceptual grounding that was not always clear in their finished work.
    • Quality was inconsistent. Three dimensional work overall seemed stronger than the two dimensional work.
    • Contemporary art knowledge not consistently evident in the statements. This does help students clarify their vision. In the statements from students with stronger work, the statements made reference to historical and contemporary artists who informed the work of the student.

    General Comments:

    • BFA Seminar is a valuable experience and critical process for students to equip them with the professional tools necessary to be successful and productive in the discipline.
    • Both in the development of art work and the artist statement, students should be strongly urged to examine the historical and contemporary context for their art making.
    • Encourage the students to gain confidence and experience in exhibiting their art before the BFA exhibition by taking advantage of campus and community resources for display and exhibition.
    • Posting artist statements by each portfolio would further the educational mission of the department and strengthen the experience for the viewer.

    General Observations:

    • Good range of ideas, styles, and materials explored and represented, from traditional exploration to pushing the boundaries of forms of expression.

    Comments on the Review Process:

    • Providing slides of student work assembled in the seminar class to the external reviewers would be helpful for assessment. This would provide a context for better understanding the art work presented in the exhibition.
    • Providing more academic information about advanced studio course work on each student would assist reviewers in their assessment.
    • Providing a statement of professional plans or goals would lend clarity and purpose to the seminar for students and reviewers.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Patrick Fahey, Assistant Professor of Art, Colorado State University
    Mary Jane Edwards, Department Head, University of Wyoming

    BFA review exhibition evaluations:
    Here are the average scores reported by the outside evaluators:
    (5 excellent, 4 very good, 3 good, 2 average, 1 poor)

    1. 4.0 technical proficiency in chosen medium
    2. 3.5 development of personal style
    3. 3.4 ideas clearly expressed
    4. 3.3 invention, originality
    5. 3.2 work reflects general awareness of contemporary art

    Exit Surveys for studio arts:

    In addition to the rigorous external evaluation by outside experts of studio work in the BFA Exhibition, exit survey forms were solicited from students. These detailed questionnaires give students the opportunity to voice opinions and concerns about their educational experiences.

    Here are the average scores reported by studio art students:
    (5 excellent, 4 very good, 3 good, 2 average, 1 poor)

    1. 3.8 familiarity with a wide variety of subject matter, concepts, ideas in art
    2. 3.5 experience with a wide variety of media
    3. 3.5 exposure personal style
    4. 4.3 ability to create artwork with originality and invention
    5. 3.6 ability to express ideas clearly
    6. 3.5 awareness of critical issues related to studio art practice
    7. 3.5 understanding of art history and contemporary art
    8. 3.2 understanding of how to exhibit artwork Most students described their overall classroom experience in studio art as good.

    Many were impressed with the quality of the advanced classes described as an excellent mix of technical and conceptual content. The upper-division teachers were very helpful, accessible, knowledgeable and often described as "great motivators". Instructors who taught the courses in Ceramics, Sculpture and Printmaking were mentioned for their excellent knowledge of technical, historical, and conceptual material.

    Students mentioned that the access to equipment, the labs, and the varied workshops added to the effectiveness of their experiences. They summarized their advanced classes as being interesting, expecting a high level of achievement. They enjoyed the freedom to pursue a personal style while exploring numerous creative possibilities. Many were thankful that their experiments with different materials eventually led to finding a favorite medium in which to work.

    Other benefits students mentioned included access to computer equipment, being able to work from live models, and being around other artists. The BFA Seminar Class, The Visiting Artist Program, the Art Student's League, and the Internship Program were mentioned repeatedly. Students enjoyed learning new techniques while being encouraged to work towards an individual personal style. They also appreciated knowing how to assemble an artist's packet that included writing a resume, an artist's statement, and photographing a slide portfolio. Many commented that they were continually pushed to exceed their goals.

    Students complained about the poor quality of graduate teachers. They wanted more information about various techniques especially at the lower-division level and more information about safety and hazardous use of materials earlier in their education. They would like more career counseling and career opportunities to be explained earlier in the program. Some wanted more access to computer equipment and others found the facilities to be too small and lacking adequate storage.

    In addition, students requested smaller classes in bigger spaces, more personal studio space, and more photography and technical support. They specifically requested more drawing classes with more variety of drawing classes, more diverse computer classes, more performance classes, and an organized curriculum that would offer more inter-media and cross-disciplinary opportunities. They strongly suggested better freshman advising, and better teachers at the lower levels through a program of professor mentoring. They suggested more color options in photography, more connections with artists in the community and more workshops for specialized techniques.

    Summary evaluation for AY 1999-2000 - studio arts:

    Outside evaluators were impressed with the wide variety of ideas, styles, and materials represented in the BFA exhibition, from traditional pieces to those that explored new dimensions. Graduating seniors agreed by ranking higher their familiarity with a wide variety of subject matter, concepts, and ideas in art. Most of them felt their education had given them the opportunity to experience a wide variety of media and an awareness of critical issues related to studio art practice. In general, it was concluded that the Fine Arts Department offers a diverse curriculum supported by a wide variety of resources with the ability to take courses freely within the department. Technical proficiency in one's chosen medium was ranked at a very good score by the evaluators and the students also gave a high score to their ability to create artwork with originality and invention. The experts and the students also agreed that the professional context of the BFA exhibition is an important step in giving young artists the critical process to be productive in the discipline. The experts also found the physical layout of the space to be inviting and an effective presentation of the work. The experts were supportive of the efforts made by the department to create a venue where students could show as a community of artists and reflect upon the success of their creative efforts as fine artists.

    Comments about the exhibition itself were favorable although some students ranked their understanding of how to exhibit artwork at a slightly lower level. The overall quality was described as being good. Also mentioned were a number of students whose works were exceptional in the technical handling of materials and processes, aesthetic sensitivity, and conceptual satisfaction. Students ranked their ability to express their ideas clearly within the good range. In general, the Fine Arts Department offers its students an education focused on a strong conceptual basis.

    The outside evaluators mentioned that some of the quality of the artwork exhibited was inconsistent. Weaknesses of the exhibition included works where technical proficiency was lacking or unrealized. The students commented that this inconsistency is caused by the lack of technical information in most of the basic level courses. It was generally concluded that the department would produce stronger students by offering an art fundamentals course. In addition, as a form of quality control, the work of the BFA candidates should have to pass a formal review before being allowed to exhibit in the BFA exhibition. The evaluators suggested that weaker students should also be encouraged to reflect upon contemporary art knowledge and art history that was not consistently apparent in their artist statements as it was in the work of the stronger students. They should be encouraged to examine the historical and contemporary context for their art making. The students ranked their understanding of art history and contemporary art at a good level but also commented that they would like more connections with art history and contemporary art.



    Exit surveys for art history: (5 excellent, 4 very good, 3 good, 2 fair, 1 poor)
    Average scores:

    1. 3.2 knowledge of major monuments in historical context
    2. 3.5 concentrated knowledge of artistic monuments in cultural context
    3. 3.5 familiarity with varied methodologies used to study art history
    4. 3.5 general knowledge of artistic media
    5. 3.0 ability to relate monuments to historical and cultural context by identifying technique, style, and subject matter
    6. 4.0 ability to interpret historical and critical information about works of art, artists, and related issues
    7. 3.8 ability to organize and communicate concepts and data pertaining to the history of art effectively in written and oral form

    Summary evaluation for AY 1999-2000 - art history:

    Student responses ranked the overall quality of the teaching in art history as good to good very good. The professors were acknowledged as experts in their fields with unique and varied approaches to their topics. They have a clear style of presenting the material, are highly intellectual and innovative and were described as being accessible. Numerous students described their classes as being very interesting, with excellent readings and dynamic teachers. Some students would like to see less of a lecture format and more student interaction.

    The effectiveness of classes in art history are good but students would like more hands-on skill in "how to write" about art history. They requested more connections between classes and commented that although each class gives new insights into different subjects, they would like to see more "emphasis" subjects, especially in contemporary art.

    Most beneficial to a number of students was the opportunity to do an honors thesis and a Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROP) grant. Both were helpful for exploration of student interests. Special topics courses were mentioned as especially interesting because teachers were excited to teach what is "new". Students liked the liked the opportunity to develop their "creative side" too and mentioned how much they enjoyed field trips to the museum and their various seminar classes.

    Problems in the study of art history area included difficulty in getting into classes, not enough choices, problems with "emphasis," and that classes are difficult to take in series. Suggestions for improvement included more connections between art history to the making of art, to culture and to society. Some students felt that all art history students should do a thesis and the curriculum should be changed to require more art history classes.



    This is the second year that Professor Deborah Haynes has chaired the department. Under her adroit leadership, understanding of team building, and shared governance, our department has improved dramatically. Along with her hiring came new faculty, new staff, and a vision for the future. Morale has improved and many changes towards building a productive environment for faculty, staff, and students have already taken place. Our department has become an energetic and dynamic place to study art.

    Major curriculum changes are underway including raising the number of credit hours required for the BA degree from 33 to 45 and setting the BFA degree at 66 credits. We are adding an art fundamentals class as a prerequisite for all art courses including art history and requiring all BFA candidates to pass a BFA portfolio review, effective Fall 2001. The hiring of two expert advisors has aided in the technical aspects of running our department and has eased the process of class registration, course schedules, and core and transfer advising. This semester, the advisors conducted a career counseling session with Career Services that was well attended. It included handouts and numerous suggestions for pursuing an art career. Recently the Electronic Media Area was expanded by the hiring of new faculty to expand and help redefine the area with the advent of new technology. The graduate curriculum is in the process of being re-worked and standardized throughout the disciplines of the department.


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    Last revision 11/04/02

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