Fine Arts Department Missions and Outcomes | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Fine Arts Department Missions and Outcomes

The Fine Arts Department at MCAD prepares students for life-long studio and community practices relevant to a changing art world.

An interdisciplinary curriculum, supported by rigorous technical and conceptual development, fosters growth and self-confidence. The department encourages aesthetic and cultural diversity in a program that is immersive and collaborative. We strive to create professional opportunities for students to engage in a broader dialog with the world beyond the classroom and to be fully prepared for a meaningful post- MCAD experience.


The drawing/painting major encourages students to take individual directions in their work and supports these artists through rigorous technical experiences including observationally based work in introductory courses and greater freedom in advanced classes. Through awareness of contemporary practice and historical precedents, students develop a high degree of skill in drawing and painting. Students gain an understanding of the context of their work through courses with specific content, including representation, abstraction, process-based work, and courses that challenge the boundaries between drawing/painting and other artistic practices. By engaging in varied professional practices, students gain an understanding of how to sustain a career in their field after leaving MCAD.

  • Demonstrate skills and techniques that are developed through perceptual experience
  • Exhibit problem solving, critical thinking, a conceptual understanding of craft and content, and sustained inquiry
  • Reference historical and contemporary painting and their subsequent aesthetic and ideological contexts
  • Observe professional practice, self-criticality, and self-reliance
  • Defend position verbally and in writing, and analyze and critique the work of others

Fine Arts Studio

The fine arts studio major prepares students for studio and community practices relevant for a changing visual world. An interdisciplinary curriculum, supported by rigorous technical and conceptual development, fosters artistic maturity. Collaborative and concept-driven coursework expose students to a diverse range of aesthetic experiences outside of typical media-driven limitations. Drawing from all areas of the college curriculum, each student crafts a program based on individual conceptual focus and technical background. Through interaction with varied professional practices, students gain an understanding of how to sustain a career in their field after leaving MCAD.

  • Develop technical craft appropriate to studio and community needs
  • Define the nature and structure of one’s practice
  • Reference historical precedent and contemporary thinking
  • Observe professional practice, self-criticality, and self-reliance
  • Work within a community towards shared goals

Furniture Design

The furniture design major at MCAD blends craft and design. Students develop traditional craft techniques alongside alternative materials exploration. Using current digital technologies, problem- solving skills are nurtured and critical thinking is expected. Students develop a strong commitment to professional practice through exposure to the professional world of furniture design. Cross-pollination with other practices, including sculpture, give the student the tools to create unique and authentic work.

  • Traditional and experimental building techniques, including material knowledge and appropriate use and historical context from the past to current
  • Individual design methodologies including but not limited to the following: rapid visualization, CAD, research, trending, and outsourcing fabrication
  • Professional practice, including presentation techniques, digital presentation, and written requests for proposal (RFP), creation and following a design brief
  • Creating an authentic body of work ranging from studio to mass production furniture

Print Paper Book

The print paper book major offers students an interdisciplinary experience of printmaking, hand papermaking and the artist’s book through an investigation of traditional processes, new technologies, history and critical contexts. Expanding the definition, audience, and possibilities of these media, course offerings encourage students to develop their formal skills and craft while actively questioning how images, objects, and information are conceived and disseminated.

  • Demonstrate foundational skills in traditional print, paper, and book arts processes
  • Demonstrate advanced technical skills, craft, and precision in individual pursuit
  • Employ a variety of ways to combine print, paper and book arts techniques and concepts
  • Create a cohesive body of work based on one’s own creative methodology
  • Exhibit critical reading, writing and speaking skills that address the field of contemporary art and one’s own position
  • Reference historical and contemporary contexts for printmaking, papermaking and book arts


The sculpture major at MCAD embraces historical and contemporary approaches by offering experiences that range from the creation of the discrete object to experiential installation, while focusing upon the inclusion of new technologies and fostering conceptual and technical exploration. The program embraces not only an interdisciplinary approach to materials and media but trans-disciplinary thought. Through courses inclusive of philosophy, ecology, and history, and the practice of individual and collaborative work, community partnerships, and Public Art we continue to expand the definition of Sculpture.

  • Reference the conceptual and technical foundations of sculpture while engaging forward-looking options in terms of aesthetics, media, and process
  • Demonstrate an awareness of contemporary and traditional art practices, theories, and artists
  • Define individual studio practice within a contemporary context based in research
  • Demonstrate broad “sculptural” understanding through experience from object to installation; temporal to permanence; private to public
  • Demonstrate application of sculptural processes from traditional to expanded media including fabrication, casting, space, time, and digital processes
  • Engage in the intellectual dialectic; critique and engage peers in expanded dialogue
  • Engage in professional experiences through exhibitions, competitions, and internships