Letter from the Chair

As a performance artist interested in crossing borders and blurring lines, I treasured the opportunity to study along side individuals of all cultures and artistic disciplines. Cornish has provided a space in which this cross contamination of fields can occur – an aesthetic and performative pollution creating a new understanding of beauty. Cornish has, time and again, rewarded this spirit of experimentation and risk taking.  Reilly Sinanan

The  Art community at Cornish actively promotes the creative environment and the intellectual context for artistic experimentation and risk taking. Aimed at aspiring artists from a broad range of backgrounds, this program offers a unique interdisciplinary environment where the margins between print, sculpture, moving image, drawing, photography, painting, performance, sound and writing are dissolved in favor of inventive alliances.

You will have the opportunity to work from the depth of your chosen subject area(s), while investigating the interfaces between material, digital, spatial, temporal, and textual media. The spectrum of making through thinking, and thinking through making, is enhanced by this exciting and challenging exchange.

You will be working with a dynamic team of professional faculty, who are established locally, nationally, and internationally aspracticing artists, educators, and scholars. Together, we are committed to an integration of practical excellence, academic rigor, and technical flexibility,giving you the skills required to succeed in a time of complexity and convergence. This valuable and memorable time of study will provide the springboard from which you will launch an exciting career with confidence and reflective awareness. 

Christy Johnson, Art Department Chair


“It has been a pleasure to watch my daughter develop as an artist during her time at Cornish. She chose to move from her native New York City to attend a school that offered a strong foundation year where she could explore all mediums and venues. As so much work in the contemporary art field today is interdisciplinary, Cornish provides its students the tools to excel in multiple arenas. In addition, studying with students in the performing arts offers opportunities for fine arts majors to expanding their focus into the wide breath of what contemporary artists address today.”  Barry Friedman (NYC Gallerist)


As a freshman in the Foundations program, you engage in learning to read visual languages and explore art practices through the intersection of studio, critical & contextual studies and humanities & sciences. In this year you will rotate through and explore open access resource labs, learning to situate work “within process” and learning to value process itself as “the work”.

The focus is on building technical, practical, rhetorical, and conceptual skills so that you can broaden your experience, challenge yourself and work outside your comfort zone. Year 1 is a time in which you will expand your awareness, develop experiential knowledge, and start to identify where your interests lie.

Year 2: Know and Understand

In the sophomore year, you will build on your exploratory first year and continue to identify key areas of interest. This is the time when you start to develop agency and ownership of your own artistic choices: media, methodologies, processes, and materials to understand what is means to structure a practice. The acquisition of skills continues within the context of your experimentation. Many students prefer to specialize while others embrace cross-disciplinary approaches. The program enables and supports this diversity.

The contextual, historical, critical, and cultural studies component of your education continues throughout the four years, in the recognition that the line between making and thinking is always permeable.

Year 3: Analyze, Evaluate, Apply

The junior year defines and establishes your emergent practice. You will extend and develop your work through an informed relationship between content, context, and audience. The spectrum of technique, practical application and research is fluid, and you will identify your place within this exchange. This is a time of self-directed practice, inquiry-led research and writing, and the further development of your critical skills.

This is normally the year that students choose to study abroad, compete for participation in the New York Studio Residency Program, or take part in the AICAD Mobility Program.

Year 4: Synthesize and Disseminate

As a senior you will consolidate your learning and experience towards an authored practice concluding with a public outcome at the end of the year. This is the time when you will propose, develop, and realize a body of work, accompanied by critical writing.

You will participate in cross-disciplinary critiques and reviews. Professional practice will be embedded in your studies and you will apply these skills throughout the year, via networking, commissions, self-promotion and related writing. Your time at Cornish culminates in the BFA exhibition, a widely attended event for the Seattle community. This is both a point of departure and commencement.

Degree Requirements


Model Programs are updated at the beginning of each academic year. This PDF contains the current year’s model programs for this program. Students should refer to the model program that was in effect for the year and term of their entrance to Cornish. View archived catalogs and model programs.


Course Descriptions

Course descriptions are updated at the beginning of each academic year. This PDF contains the current year’s course descriptions for this program. For previous years, please refer to the online archive of catalogs.


Textbook & Laptop Policy

All incoming (Fall 2014) art students will need to purchase a laptop and software before the start of classes. Provided below is a list for you to make sure you have everything you will need.

In order to redeem the education discount you can either take your Cornish Student ID with you to an Apple store, or you can purchase directly through the Apple online store. If you already have invested in a different system or have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the Art Department Computer Support Coordinator.

Students who plan to work with time-based media may find it useful to invest in a more robust external hard drive and additional RAM for their computer. We recommend:

  • G-Tech 2 TB G-drive external hard drive


Learning Outcomes

The BFA at Cornish is designed to give students the diverse and flexible skills necessary to open up potential directions for a future life in fine art, which could include: research at the postgraduate level (MFA); or becoming a professional artist, filmmaker, project manager, studio manager, fabricator, animator, curator, writer, printer, photographer, arts administrator, publisher, educator, technical instructor, preparator, producer, picture/archive researcher; working in public art contexts, museums, or working in the areas of digital imaging, production and post-production, web authoring, new media production ... just to name a few.


Faculty & Staff





The ADF+M Resource Labs are open access to support your learning and to facilitate skill acquisition at all levels. During your four years at Cornish you will work within a studio-based environment supported by a diverse range of media, workshop and production facilities.

A unique feature of the program is the exploration of the relationship of old, new, and emerging technologies ... material, chemical, analogue and digital processes and techniques.

3D Fabrication Lab

The 3D Fabrication Resource Area helps students progress from sketchbook to actual object. Makers from any department are able to access our well equipped lab to build their skills in woodworking, soft fabrication processes like sewing, metal welding and fabrication, and mold making for cold casting.

Students can use the 3D Fabrication area to build stretcher bars for paintings, or to make a larger than life sculpture. Our available tools range from handheld wood carving tools to a Makerbot 3D printer. The wood lab support ranges from structure building to exploration of demanding techniques, and our metals area supports MIG, TIG, arc, and gas welding, with a variety of tools to cut, bend and manipulate metal stock. A wide variety of mold making processes are available for experimentation and skill building in making multiples in plasters, hybrid materials, and plastics

Digital and Analogue Equipment Library

The equipment library will provide you with a wide range of digital and analogue equipment including still and video cameras, lights, microphones, projectors and digital displays.

Digital Labs

Our digital computer labs will give you access to a range of creative software including Adobe Creative Cloud. In these labs, you will be able to take advantage of increased memory and processing power in order to work on larger and more complex digital projects.

Digital Print Center

The digital print center provides the possibility to make large scale, fine art quality prints on a selection of different papers using large format inkjet printers.

Materials Lab

This room can be used for working with stronger solvents and painting mediums than the student collective studio spaces in Centennial Lab and the Commons. It is also an ideal place to prime several canvasses at once with ample room to spread out. Students have access to a wide array of drawing and painting mediums to experiment with different ways of working.

The Materials Lab has a stock of acrylic and oil mediums, topcoats and grounds. Drawing media include charcoal, pastels, oil bars, water-soluble crayons, charcoal and graphite powder, inks, as well as fixatives to finish pieces. Hand tools and an array of fasteners are on hand to figure out how best to display finished artwork.

Photomedia Lab

In the Photomedia lab, you can explore black and white analogue photography as well as digital photography. You will be able to work with digital image manipulation and large format printing and can venture into Super 8mm film processing.

Print & Publishing Lab

The Cornish Print Art Lab is comprised of several lab spaces prepared for both traditional and contemporary practices. The Lab houses it's own darkroom equipped with a Mercury Vapor overhead exposure unit used for solar plate, photo polymer plate, and other experimental photo print processes. Adjacent to the darkroom is a computer station, which operates a large format vinyl plotter that converts vector graphics into intricate works of cut vinyl. The Silkscreen lab has over 40 high mesh aluminum screens, and a state of the art vacuum exposure unit.

There is a pair of twin Little John presses in the central lab used exclusively for intaglio printing, as well as a lithography press for aluminum plate lithography, and a large Takach press used for relief, monotype, and large intaglio printmaking. A special feature of the lab is a traditional Japanese papermaking vat called a Sukifuni used to make delicate handmade paper.

Book Arts contains five working antique letterpresses, and a large catalog of both wood and lead type. Students have the opportunity to hand set type, create bindings with multiple signatures, and create professional quality handmade books.

External Opportunities

External and community engagement is a priority and embedded in the program. We support study abroad, residencies, collaborative projects, commissions, exhibitions, internships and competitions. One notable example is the Loan Exhibition Partnership established in 2005 between the Art Department and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The College has established exciting partnerships to enable you to expand your study experience and extend your practice.

Visiting Artists, Master Classes & Residencies

The Art Program at Cornish College of the Arts and the Henry Art Gallery ( have formed an exciting partnership to present INCITE•INSIGHT, a series of public lectures and performances that promote engagement with contemporary art practice. Invited artists, curators, and thinkers visit Seattle for short residencies to interact withstudents through group conversation and studio visits. The series emphasizes and advances the long-standing commitment that Cornish and the Henry share in support of meaningful dialogues around the social and cultural impact of art and the ideas of our time. 

The Art program works closely with the Pilchuck Glass School and we are fortunate to have the Pilchuck Emerging Artists in Residence visit each fall to lecture on their previous works, processes, and current explorations. 


The Main Gallery has been a significant feature and resource at Cornish for many years, and has hosted the work of many renowned artists. Alongside the main space, students are invited to submit proposals to create work for The Collaboratory, a project space located in the gallery that is dedicated to interdisciplinary explorations across the College. This represents the very best of Cornish’s unique identity as one of only three colleges in North America that offers both the visual and performing arts.

Student agency is at the heart of Cornish. The Closet Gallery is a student run exhibition space. It is for the students, by the students. Our goal is to provide a professional environment for students to showcase their work while pursuing their degree. We also strive to provide opportunities for students to see the work of fellow peers while providing a community of supportive feedback. The Closet Gallery is open to all current Cornish students from any department and encourages experimentation along with collaboration,” says Curator, Sam Whalen.

The Visiting Artist Program is a key feature of your study and provides the context to meet artists working professionally. You will also have access to the annual lecture series linked with the Neddy at Cornish.

Numerous resources are open to Cornish students such as the Mary Alice Cooley Print Collection, and the Henry Art Gallery Collections at the University of Washington.



March 24, 2015

Women in Design & Metal Speak at Cornish

The SEGD Seattle Chapter kicks off its speaker series at Cornish with Women in Design; the next day, Cornish hosts Women in Metal from Pratt Fine Arts Center.

​Sometimes the stars just align. Tuesday and Wednesday March 25 and 26, Cornish will play host to...


March 4, 2015

New exhibition of Cunningham photos shows unseen history of Cornish

In 1935, photographer Imogen Cunningham contributed a series of photos for the Cornish School catalogue. Now these rare photos will be on public display, many for the first time, in A Stitch in Time: Imogen at Cornish.

While preparing for Cornish College of the Arts’ centennial celebration last November, college off...


March 2, 2015

Cornish Commons Tops Off

Cornish College of the Arts adds a brand-new building to its campus in 2015: Cornish Commons. This mix of residence hall, classroom space, and Student Life offices opens in August.

Cornish Commons, the new residence hall and academic building being developed for Cornish College of...


February 5, 2015

Cornish Art Show Illuminates Changes in Curriculum

"Changing Our Stripes: The New Art Program at Cornish" proudly shows off the results of a new, integrated approach.

At a century-old beloved Seattle institution where Mark Tobey once taught painting, changing up the...


January 22, 2015

Cornish Throws a TASK Party for Everyone

UPDATE! The Cornish TASK Party, the concept work of noted artist Oliver Herring, opened its doors on January 16—HUGE success.

Update: Happy, whirring, spinning pandemonium in the Beebe Building at Cornish's Main Campus as Oliv...


December 19, 2014

Cornish Looks Beautiful At 100

Overlooking the formally attired crowd, all black tie and ball gowns to celebrate Cornish's 100th anniversary, graduate Mary Lambert remarked, “You look so beautiful out there."

Cornish College of the Arts celebrated 100 years in Seattle on Friday, November 14, 2014,...

More About Centennial Sponsors: The Cornish Centennial Gala set new records due in part to th...