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Art Department

Four Years at a Glance

1 – Exposure, Exploration, Process
As a freshman in the Art Department, you engage in learning to read visual languages and explore art practices through contextual, historical, and critical studies. In this year you will rotate through and explore media studios, 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.

2 — Experimentation - Shifting Destinations
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, materials, etc.

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

3 — Research & Development - Establishing Practice
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 and further developing 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.

4 — Consolidation, Realization, Dissemination
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.

Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes are defined in terms of the knowledge, skills, and abilities that students have attained as a result of their involvement in a particular set of educational experiences. View the Art Department Learning Outcomes.


  • Develop student core competencies.
  • Develop student agency.
  • Foster experimentation and innovative practice among students.
  • Foster a campus community conducive to learning and positive growth.
Art Department