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The art program within the Department of Art & Design at Spring Arbor University encourages students to express both technical and creative skills. The various studio courses are structured in order to develop traditional academic competence in visual and tactile forms. The uniqueness, however, is the attention given to the development of each individual student, guiding them in discovering their own personal philosophy and artistic style.

Five concentrations are available:

  • Drawing
  • Graphic Design
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Sculpture

SAU also offers minors in art and visual literacy.

Why should you choose SAU’s art program?

This program at SAU offers the student a unique developmental combination of technical skills relative to the various media with emphasis on personal creativity and style. This combination begins in the introductory studio courses and is completed in the individualized structure of ART 415: Advanced 2-D and 3-D Design, and ART 470: Art Seminar.

Facilities for the major are housed in the 8,100-square foot Ogle Art Center, which contains classrooms and traditional studios for drawing, sculpture and painting, along with a cutting-edge computer lab, darkroom, complete woodshop, kiln area and individual upperclassman studio spaces. The Ganton Art Gallery is one of the largest single-space galleries in Michigan and displays revolving exhibits of graduating majors, semester shows and professional artists.

In the first year of the program, students take ART 160: Introduction to Art. This course provides insights by professionals in various artistic fields, and explains the academic and experiential requirements to pursue a job in their area. During the sophomore and junior years of the programs, students meet one on one with department faculty to discuss their progress and possible careers. This major culminates in individual senior shows, in which students showcase their best pieces in the Ganton Art Gallery. These shows center around the student’s area of concentration and are held throughout each semester.

Another strength of the program is juried competitions at the end of each semester, exposing students to critiques from visiting artists and showcasing their best works to the community. Students in the major are also expected to participate in the annual Michigan Small College Art Competition held every spring. Scholarships are available through portfolio review and also are awarded at annual semester competitions.

Art Scholarships

Art Scholarships are awarded to incoming freshmen (Art majors only). They are based on a review of your portfolio by the faculty, though a portfolio review is not required to get into our program. It is for scholarship awards only. Bring samples of your best work (examples: drawing, graphic design, photography, painting, ceramics/sculpture). Around 10-15 pieces is adequate. Art majors can earn $500-$1,000 through a portfolio review and will keep their scholarships for four years if they maintain a “B” average in their art courses. The student will be present at the portfolio review and parents are welcome to sit in on the half hour review. We can meet for the portfolio review any time between September and May.

Ganton Art Gallery

The Ganton Art Gallery is used for instruction and enrichment. It is open to the public but primarily exists to help SAU students experience Art and understand the process by which Art is hung in a professional space. Our gallery is the largest single-space facility in Michigan devoted to student work.

At the beginning of each semester we bring in professional artists to exhibit their work and talk to students about their careers. The middle of each semester is when Senior Art Exhibits are displayed. And the end of each semester culminates in a Semester Art Competition. All Art majors are required to enter an outside juror selects the works and the awards.

Please visit the Ganton Art Gallery Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm or Saturday and Sunday from 1:00pm-5:00pm. It is free and open to the public. September through May are normal operating hours. Please set up an appointment through your admissions representative.

Courses and Course Descriptions

The courses for the 52-hour major include such subject areas as drawing, two- and three-dimensional design, painting, color, history of art, as well as classes related to a student’s concentration.

View the course requirements and layout, course descriptions, as well as learn more about the program at Spring Arbor University, in the course catalog.

Career Opportunities

Beyond the professions where making art is the primary focus, such as a studio artist, illustrator or graphic designer and teaching, countless opportunities exist for creative people with artistic sensitivities and training.

To learn more about how Spring Arbor helps its graduates prepare for a career, visit our career development section.

On-Campus Opportunities

Spring Arbor University offers a wide range of activities and opportunities for students to get involved and apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world contexts. Here are some opportunities that may interest art students:

  • Shows – Students bring each semester to a close by participating in a juried show in the Ganton Gallery. In addition, seniors are given the chance to showcase their most awe-inspiring artistic endeavors in an individual exhibit that forms the capstone of the program.

See a full list of the various activities and organizations available to students at Spring Arbor University.


Brian Shaw, MFA, Professor of Art
Brianne Witt, MFA, Professor of Art
Jonathan Rinck, M.Lit, Assistant Professor of Art