Professor of Art Wendell H. Arneson, the Chair of the Department of Art and Art History, described the studio art major as a program in which students must "gain enough self confidence to take risks."
The art department at St. Olaf includes two "supportive but interactive" majors, according to Arneson. The studio art and art history majors require some of the same classes for graduation. Each year, approximately forty to forty-five students graduate as studio art majors and eight to twelve as art history majors.
Senior Jane Becker, a studio art and art history double major, chose the studio arts major because of her passion for art and a desire for self-expression and creativity. "I love that I get to do what I enjoy most," she said about her major.
Fellow senior and studio art major Aaron Reiners summed up some of the qualities of studio art majors: they are committed, flexible, passionate, self-motivated individuals who love the chance to "remake [themselves] every day." Becker also said that his fellow art majors have a "sense of personal pride and satisfaction in their work ethic."
Both Becker and Reiners plan to apply to St. Olaf's fifth year art apprenticeship program and go on to graduate school. This apprenticeship program accepts a limited number of exceptional art students who want to spend a fifth year preparing for graduate school by building a strong portfolio. St. Olaf provides studio space for students in this program.
The faculty is composed of both full-time and part-time professors, including twelve who teach studio art and four who teach art history. Arneson described the faculty as "diverse and rich and interesting."
Assistant Professor of art/art history Kris Lowe recognizes the important connection between art and other areas of life. Art is easily integrated into other fields such as mathematics, science, and religion, because all these areas encourage "probing the natural and conceptual world and trying to understand how we come to know what we know." Arneson echoed this thought by saying that asking questions and taking risks allows an individual to make new decisions.
Arneson and Lowe agree that many possibilities await students who choose to major in studio art. According to Lowe, an "artist is a kind of entrepreneur and inventor" with unlimited career potential. Arneson points out that someone designs "everything you see, feel, touch, and breathe." There is a network of career possibilities including but not limited to architecture, illustration, museum care, graphic design, video animation, and print media.