Students begin their Tyler careers with a yearlong immersion in the school’s comprehensive Foundation program. Foundation is an intensive and highly structured series of courses that form the fundamental basis for studio practice, critical thinking, and the knowledge and implementation of principles of visual art expression. In every drawing, 2D or 3D class, students are challenged to expand beyond preconceived notions about art and art making.
Foundation year projects are demanding and absorbing. From larger than life self-portraits, to handmade books with pages exploring new concepts added each week, to sculpture created from found objects, assignments are designed to help students synthesize a range of skills and concepts, and gives emerging artists the chance to explore images and ideas from the moment they arrive. Each course introduces relevant technology for researching and realizing ideas.
A newly designed seminar course spanning all Tyler’s studio art and design programs ties together the first year experience for students in the Architecture, Art Education, BFA and Visual Studies areas. Each fall, the seminar focuses on a trans-disciplinary issue facing contemporary art and design, and shows students how to get the most out of the University to situate themselves in the contemporary conversation. In the second semester, the BFA Foundation students features faculty members from the upper level majors who present each Tyler studio in detail. The seminar exposes students to the issues and ideas that define contemporary visual culture and prepares them to select a major in which to further their study.
Unpredictability is a fact of the creative life, and the Foundation program prepares students for whatever may come their way by emphasizing fundamental skills applicable across a wide range of disciplines. Such breadth prepares Foundation students to follow wherever their developing interests lead. A student may come in certain that he wants to be a graphic designer and discover how valuable paper sculpture techniques learned in Foundation 3D can be to developing innovative package design.
The Foundation year is intensive, exciting, and challenging, and through it each student begins to find and define a distinctive visual voice. At the end of the year, students are well prepared to enter the all-elective sophomore year.
The Sophomore Year
During the sophomore year, students are enrolled in three studio electives each semester and may select from introductory courses offered in any of the BFA majors—Ceramics, Fibers & Material Studies, Glass, Graphic & Interactive Design, Metals/Jewelry/CAD-CAM, Painting & Drawing, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture—enabling them to explore many distinct major fields. This experience provides the necessary background to make an informed selection of a major for the junior year and adds to the overall breadth of the educational experience. Sophomore studio pre-requisite courses in the intended major are required.
The Junior and Senior Years
At this stage, students begin a required two-year concentration in one of the BFA studio majors. The major requires two courses each semester for four semesters. Teaching in the major is highly individualized and stresses the development of a personal idiom and preparation for the professional world. Because of Tyler’s emphasis on interdisciplinary work and the exciting creative fusion that can be discovered while working in disparate fields, a substantial amount of studio work outside the major is allowed and encouraged.