Art and Design Program        

The art and design program strives to engage students in the expressive and communicative power of visual language.  Hiram’s art and design program emphasizes inquiry and experimentation, critical evaluation, personal reflection, collaborative dialogue, and engagement with the larger world.  Whether working with time-honored traditional media or with ever-evolving digital technologies, the program encourages interdisciplinary exploration and connectedness with ideas and approaches from other disciplines.  As part of a larger liberal arts curriculum, the art and design major provides a foundation upon which students can build rewarding careers.  Students are encouraged to complement their studies in art and design with other fields of study, such as performing arts, creative writing, psychology, communication, environmental science, management, and many others. 

The program offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in art and design.  A sequence of foundations courses prepares all students for the technical, formal, and conceptual skills necessary for a well-rounded creative thinker and visual problem-solver.  Upper-level students can pursue one of three pathways: studio art (painting/drawing/mixed media), photography/film, or digital design studies.  Exploring these pathways, students immerse themselves in upper-level courses in their chosen area, culminating in a capstone experience – the presentation of a technically proficient and conceptually cohesive visual portfolio. 

In a climate of art-making where boundaries delineating media, techniques, and tools have faded, students are encouraged to take courses across all three pathways to strengthen their technical and conceptual skills.  Students may also choose to supplement their studies with electives associated with the communication or computer science major, or the film studies minor. 

An Optimal Learning Environment

  • The Gelbke Fine Arts Center is a repurposed factory with 26,000 square feet of studio, classroom, and lab space.
  • Equipped with updated Apple projection & digital sharing technology, our 70 seat auditorium is ideally suited for presentations and films.
  • Majors receive spacious individual studios in order to develop their ideas and work without interruption.  These individual work spaces, as well studios and digital lab, remain open for student use around the clock, seven days a week.
  • With intimate class sizes, students receive considerable attention, and enjoy close interaction with art and design faculty and fellow art and design students.

Gelbke Fine Arts Center Gallery

Described by one visitor as “a cultural jewel set in a beautiful rural landscape,” our gallery offers opportunities for students and faculty to exhibit their work and to host a regular schedule of exhibitions by regional, national, and international artists.  The 1,200 square foot gallery is designed for the display of two and three dimensional artwork, as well as sculptural installations and digital and multi-media projection. 

Supporting the educational mission of the program and the college, exhibiting artists are invited to campus to speak and interact with students and the wider community.  Students also have the opportunity to network and gain valuable professional experience working as gallery assistants.  All Hiram students have the opportunity to exhibit their work in our annual juried student show and compete for a variety of awards. 

Senior majors also present their final capstone exhibitions in the final semester of their senior year.

Hiram & Beyond

In addition to opportunities to gain professional experience working as art gallery or studio assistants, Hiram students can explore travel experiences either overseas or within the U.S.  Art and design students can also apply for internships at area arts institutions.  Students have participated in internships at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, and with other non-profit or commercial arts institutions.  Hiram graduates have gone on to find success in fields such as architecture, advertising, commercial photography, graphic design, media relations, medical illustration, journalism, education, and art law.


Christopher T Ryan, (2003) Associate Professor of Art; Co-Coordinator of Film Studies Minor
B.A., John Caroll University;
M.A., University of Virginia;
M.F.A., Bowling Green State University

Cynthia L Penter, (2017) Adjunct Instructor of Art
B.A., M.F.A., Kent State University 

David A Thomas, (1989) Adjunct Instructor of Art
B.A., State University of New York;
M.F.A., Indiana State University  

ARDE 10200:  COLOR AND DESIGN:CM:  4 Hour(s)  

COLOR AND DESIGN ~ This is an introduction to the principles of two-dimensional organization. Topics will include unity, emphasis, balance, proportion, rhythm, shape, space, value, and color. Problems and concepts in design will be worked out in practice. The course will aim to develop the student’s creative resources and critical ability.

Core: Creative Methods

ARDE 11000:  BEGINNING DRAWING:CM:  4 Hour(s)  

BEGINNING DRAWING:CM ~ This course will seek to develop the student’s sensitivity and awareness of volume and space, light and shade, and surface and structure by addressing fundamental problems in perception and representation. It will also acquaint the beginner with basic principles of pictorial form. Students will work in a variety of traditional media including pencil, charcoal, chalk, and ink. Some assignments will also involve drawing using digital applications. Classwork will include drawing from motifs such as still life, landscape, and the human figure.

Core: Creative Methods


LANDSCAPE PAINTING & DRAWING ~ Building on the tradition of plein air (outdoors) painting, this class will explore ways to represent the natural and man-made landscape using drawing and painting media. Students will work outdoors from observation, as well as in the studio from secondary sources, taking advantage of the surrounding landscape of old growth forest at Hiram’s Field Station, as well as other nearby locations. Students will learn how to address the unique demands of working outdoors on-site, and will explore a variety of different media, supports, compositional strategies, and picture-making techniques. We will also examine art historical and contemporary precedents that will inform our technical and conceptual approaches to representing the landscape. Prior art experience is beneficial, but not required.

Core: Creative Methods


FUNDAMENTALS OF DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY:CM ~ This studio course in an introduction to digital photography as an art medium. Instruction includes basic operation and use of the digital camera, methods of importing files into the computer, image manipulation, inkjet printing, scanning, composition, lighting, and presentation. The course emphasizes the camera as an instrument for seeing and expression, rather than simply recording. The creative potential of the medium is emphasized through assignments, critiques, and examination of work by other photographers.

Core: Creative Methods

ARDE 12300:  DIGITAL IMAGING:CM:  4 Hour(s)  

DIGITAL IMAGING:CM ~ This course provides a foundation of digital literacy for art and design students, as well as anyone interested in exploring and more effectively utilizing digital technology. Students will explore basics of digital design skills, digital photography and digital video basics and learn to prepare their projects for a variety of output options. We will cover the tools, terms and techniques of digital design including file naming conventions, color management and color modes. The impact of technology on the visual arts will also be examined and discussed from contemporary and historical perspectives.

Core: Creative Methods


INTRODUCTION TO FILMMAKING:FORM & PRACTICE:CM ~ Film is a medium used by the entertainment industry, the arts, and by the information media to communicate many ideas and intentions. Film, video, and digital film are terms that may be used interchangeably or as distinct forms. In this introductory course we will study some of the various approaches to both historical film and current digital video/filmmaking practices. This course is a combination of film study and practice. Approximately one half of the classes will be devoted to viewing, lecture, readings, and discussion. The other half of the classes will be devoted to execution of five basic group in class exercises in technique, an individual exercise in motion and composition, and a final group project using digital filmmaking technology.

Core: Creative Methods

ARDE 13000:  HISTORY OF WESTERN ART:IM:  4 Hour(s)  

HISTORY OF WESTERN ART:IM ~ This course is an overview of the major epochs in Western Art, and establishes a conceptual framework for the further study of Art History. Beginning with the prehistoric period, we will trace the development of art and architecture in the Ancient Near East, Egypt, and the Aegean. We will move to the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome and their successors, the Medieval cultures of Christian Europe, Renaissance Italy, and the Baroque era to modern times. Students will be introduced to art historical method through reading and writing assignments.

Core: Interpretive Methods

ARDE 20400:  BEGINNING PAINTING:CM:  4 Hour(s)  

BEGINNING PAINTING:CM ~ This course offers an in-depth introduction to the materials, techniques, and uniquely expressive possibilities of painting. Students will explore ways in which an artist can structure a painting, with an emphasis on value and issues of color. Students will experience a variety of conceptual and technical approaches to painting, ranging from traditional to contemporary. An emphasis will be placed on observational painting, but students will also explore experimental methods as they begin to formulate their own painterly “language.” Prerequisites or instructor permission.

Prerequisite: ART 10200 or ART 10800 or ART 10900 or ART 11000 or ART 12000 or ART 22000 or ARDE 10200 or ARDE 10800 or ARDE 10900 or ARDE 11000 or ARDE 12000 or ARDE 22000

Core: Creative Methods


FIGURATIVE PAINTING AND DRAWING ~ Students will work from the live model to develop observational representation skills. Emphasis will be placed on analysis of the human figure and surface anatomy, as well as on finding creative and expressive solutions to representing the human form. Students can elect to work in drawing media, painting media, or a combination of the two. This course is an equivalent to ARDE/ART 21000. Students may not receive credit for both ARDE/ART 21000 and ARDE/ART 21600. Prerequisites or permission of the instructor.

Prerequisite: ARDE 10200 or ARDE 11000 or ARDE 20400


PRINTMAKING STUDIO SURVEY:CM ~ This course will examine the processes of monoprint, linoart, woodcut, relief and intaglio etching. Given assignments in each media, the student will be encouraged to develop a creative approach. It is suggested that student has had some drawing and design at the high school or college level. Some materials will be provided.

Core: Creative Methods


FUNDAMENTALS OF CERAMICS:CM ~ Designed to provide an introduction to ceramic art for the beginner or for those with some experience in working with clay. The focus of this course is to develop students’ artistic and technical foundation and to prepare for further ceramics courses. Class time will consist of both studio and lecture, and a written exam of concepts and factual material is given. The text will be used to introduce and elaborate on working methods, to illustrate the work of ceramic artists as a basis for class discussion, and to develop historic and cross cultural perspectives of clay work. Studio work explores the creative potential of clay through several projects including pinch, coil, slab and wheel thrown forms. Basic procedures of studio etiquette and safety, forming, drying, decorating, firing, and glazing will also be introduced. Class critiques will involve students in evaluation and constructive criticism of form, function, expression, and refinement of technique. Some materials provided but students must provide their own basic tools.

Core: Creative Methods


CERAMICS TILEMAKING:CM ~ This course provides an intensive study of the history and techniques of handmade ceramic tiles. Students will design and manufacture a series of tiles using a variety of clays and glazes.

Core: Creative Methods


EXPERIMENTAL FILMMAKING:CM ~ This studio art course has students produce short experimental digital videos and study the evolution of the medium from film in the late 1880s to the digital format and computer editing of today. Significant films and video screenings and interviews with film/video artists will introduce students to a variety of creative approaches that will structure class projects and critiques. Emphasis on abstract, non-narrative, non-linear aesthetic forms and the intersection with conceptual art of the 20th and 21st centuries will be contrast with cultural expectations of the medium to tell stories.

Core: Creative Methods


DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING:CM ~ This course will explore and examine the history, aesthetics, theory and production of the non-fiction film from its inception in the late 1890s to the present. We will examine cinematic practices of both mainstream and alternative documentary filmmakers and examine the documentary as it relates to cultural and political influences, gender and race, and analyze the form, technical and stylistic changes that have occurred in documentary film and video. Students will apply this knowledge to several exercises and making a short documentary.

Core: Creative Methods


INTERMEDIATE PHOTOGRAPHY:CM ~ For students who wish to further explore the possibilities of photography as an art medium. The structure of the class will be project oriented with assignments and deadlines given. Slide presentations, technical demonstrations, and critiques will be the focus of class time. Emphasis will be placed on further developing the student’s seeing and visual expression, including mastering of printing technique and composition. Individual interests will also be encouraged and explored. Five assignments with deadlines are given and a final portfolio of ten images is required. Prerequisite or permission.

Prerequisite: ARDE 12000

Core: Creative Methods


THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY:IM ~ This course begins with a prehistory of photography and the subsequent discoveries of Niepce, Daguerre, and Talbot with the first practical methods using the camera and light-sensitive substances. While significant discoveries and inventions are noted, this course attempts to view photography primarily through the ideas and images of its practitioners. Photography is considered as a major art form of visual expression and communication. Particular attention is given to the dominant visual and aesthetic modes of the 19th and 20th centuries. A revised version of this course is offered for four credit hours as ARDE 24400. A student may receive credit for only one of these courses.

Core: Interpretive Methods


CREATIVE SPACE ART EXPERIENCE IN FLORENCE:EW,CM ~ TUSCANY: This course is an intensive studio art experience that will immerse students in the vibrant city of Florence, Italy, as well as nearby towns throughout Tuscany. Students will explore the theme of "space" and will become acutely aware of our spatial surroundings: how we see and move through them, and how these experiences of space can impact us intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally. Through readings, writing assignments, discussions, walking tours, individual exploration, and directed art projects, students will explore ways to respond artistically to the uniqueness of their new spatial surroundings. Students will work in both traditional drawing and water-based painting materials, as well as utilizing many unconventional and experimental techniques and materials. Students will be exposed to some of the historic sites and artistic treasures of the past, and will also visit the studios of contemporary Florentine artists and take in the local art gallery scene. This course is designed to benefit visual art students, but all enthusiastic, open-minded, and creative individuals are encouraged to find out more about the trip. This course is also offered in a 4 credit hour format as ARDE 25200.

Core: Creative Methods; Experiencing the World

ARDE 24900:  CONTEMPORARY MEDIA:  4 Hour(s)  

CONTEMPORARY MEDIA ~ This course is intended for art and design majors and minors and those with an interest in contemporary art. Projects include designing a postcard suite, artist’s books, video, and site specific installation. Emphasis will be placed on the development of ideas, composition, sequencing, and experimentation.


CREATIVE SPACE ART EXPERIENCE IN FLORENCE:EW,CM ~ TUSCANY: This course is an intensive studio art experience that will immerse students in the vibrant city of Florence, Italy, as well as nearby towns throughout Tuscany. Students will explore the theme of "space" and will become acutely aware of our spatial surroundings: how we see and move through them, and how these experiences of space can impact us intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally. Through readings, writing assignments, discussions, walking tours, individual exploration, and directed art projects, students will explore ways to respond artistically to the uniqueness of their new spatial surroundings. Students will work in both traditional drawing and water-based painting materials, as well as utilizing many unconventional and experimental techniques and materials. Students will be exposed to some of the historic sites and artistic treasures of the past, and will also visit the studios of contemporary Florentine artists and take in the local art gallery scene. This course is designed to benefit visual art students, but all enthusiastic, open-minded, and creative individuals are encouraged to find out more about the trip. This course is also offered in a 3 credit hour format as ARDE 24800.

Core: Creative Methods; Experiencing the World

ARDE 25900:  ENVIRONMENTAL ART:CM:  3 Hour(s)  

ENVIRONMENTAL ART:CM ~ This course will incorporate environmental awareness with creative artistic responses to issues through the contemporary visual arts. It is intended to stimulate students seeking to learn about art placed in natural environments, art originating from natural objects, as well as to express statements on the environment through art. The primary studio focus will be on students creating their own art work in response to the study of environmental issues as well as what is learned from readings about contemporary environmental artists and their works. This course is also offered for four (4) credit hours as ARDE 26000. Also listed as EVST 25900

Core: Creative Methods

ARDE 28000:  SEM::  1-4 Hour(s)  


ARDE 28100:  INDEPENDENT STUDY:  1-4 Hour(s)  


ARDE 29800:  FIELD EXPERIENCE:  1-4 Hour(s)  


ARDE 32000:  ART OF INDIA:IM,EW:  3 Hour(s)  

THE ART OF INDIA:IM,EW ~ The South Asian sub-continent possesses one of the richest artistic reserves on earth produced by continuously active cultural centers among the oldest in the world. It is a region that gave rise to two world religions--Hinduism and Buddhism, and was the home to two others - Islam and Christianity, all of which fostered artistic production on a magnificent scale. This is an illustrated lecture course on the fine arts of India, with some references to art produced in Pakistan, Bangladesh , Nepal and Sri Lanka. The course will examine the arts of paintings, sculpture, and architecture created from Prehistoric times to the era of British occupation. Corresponding to the three weeks of the course, three eras will be highlighted: The prehistoric and Vedic Age, when the roots of Hinduism were established; the Buddhist era; and the Islamic era. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the historical and cultural events and significant individuals who shaped the appearance and content of Indian art, the purposes of works of art; their media and technique, and their style. Significant contextual issues relating to geography, religion, literature, and other art forms will be addressed both in class discussions and via student research papers.

Core: Experiencing the World; Interpretive Methods


INTERMEDIATE CERAMICS ~ For students who wish to further explore the possibilities of clay as an artistic medium. Students should have previous experience with basic hand building techniques, wheel work, and glazing. Emphasis will be on the application of more advanced construction techniques and the development of individual ideas. Areas that will be investigated include: methods of clay body development, the potential of various clay bodies, glaze types and glaze formulation and testing, and firing methods including pit, raku, electric, gas, and wood. These concepts and methods will be taught through group and individual projects. Students must provide their own basic tools.

Prerequisite: ARDE 23000


INTERMEDIATE PAINTING ~ This course will continue the exploration of painting methods and processes begun in ARDE/ART 20400: Beginning Painting. Students will expand their repertoire of painting materials and techniques, and explore a variety of formal and conceptual approaches to painting. Issues pertaining to color, spatial composition, mark-making, and surface texture, and the use of direct and indirect visual sources will be examined in-depth. Students will have the opportunity to develop individual subject-matter and content in their work as they discover their own unique pictorial “language.” Prerequisite or permission.

Prerequisite: ARDE 20400


ADVANCED PHOTOGRAPHY ~ A studio course concerned with advanced problems of photographic image making and exploration of the entrepreneurial mindset of the creative photographer. Emphasis will be placed on developing a unified body of work and furthering technical mastery as well as research into the professional practices and development of the fine art photographer. An effort is made to recognize and focus individual interests.

Prerequisite: ARDE 12000 and (ARDE 24000 or ARDE 24500 or ARDE 24700)

ARDE 36100:  SILKSCREEN:CM:  4 Hour(s)  

SILKSCREEN:CM ~ This course covers the concepts and use of silkscreen techniques including stencil; positive and negative block-out; photo process; registration; and printing procedures. The course also explores investigative and experimental print development, encouraging the student's discovery of the medium's potential. The student will acquire technical skill, with emphasis on aesthetic theory, history, technique, and printmaking etiquette and critique. Prerequisite or permission.

Prerequisite: ARDE 11000 or ARDE 22000 or ARDE 10200

Core: Creative Methods

ARDE 38000:  SEM::  1-4 Hour(s)  


ARDE 38100:  SPC TPC::  1-4 Hour(s)  


ARDE 42600:  20TH CENTURY ART:MOD&BEYOND:IM:  4 Hour(s)  

ART 42600: 20TH CENTURY ART: MODERN AND BEYOND:IM ~ This illustrated lecture and discussion course will chart in chronological order the key moments in the history of modern art, from the late nineteenth century to the present day. It covers Europe from Impressionism through Surrealism; America through Pop Art and Minimalism, diverse Post-Modern directions, and the course ends with a look at artwork being made today. Necessarily selective, the narrative developed throughout the course will stress those episodes in the history of art that have proven to be decisive influences on the production and reception of contemporary art. Each class session will consist of lectures and discussions of images and texts. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their comprehension of course materials, attendance and preparation, critical engagement with ideas presented in the course, and the ability to synthesize key issues developed.

Core: Interpretive Methods

ARDE 47100:  SENIOR STUDIO I:  4 Hour(s)  

SENIOR STUDIO I ~ This course serves as a culminating experience for senior art majors. Students will refine their skills in their chosen medium and will create a body of artwork that investigates a particular theme, issue, or idea that will be featured in a public exhibition at the end of the term. Students will be responsible for planning, publicizing, installing and hosting the Senior Exhibition. Students will strengthen their artwork technically and conceptually through individual instruction, regular group critiques, and the use of an Artist Journal as an integral part of the art-making process. Students will also engage in activities related to “professional practice” in preparation for life as an artist or art professional after college. Prerequisite: Senior art and design majors. Non-art and design majors may qualify to take this course under special circumstances with the instructor’s permission.

ARDE 48000:  SENIOR SEMINAR:  1-4 Hour(s)  


ARDE 48100:  INDEPENDENT RESEARCH:  1-4 Hour(s)  


ARDE 49800:  INTERNSHIP:  4 Hour(s)