Not every art student gets to graduate with a fine arts degree. Art students apply and compete to be a part of the fine arts program at Weber State University. This fall, 13 students will be graduating with the degree.
“Any student can get a Bachelor of Arts focusing on visual arts at Weber, but in order to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts, you have to apply and be accepted into the BFA program,” said Shaw Gallery director Katie Lee. “So it is a competitive process and is more rigorous for the students. One of the key things is that they have to do a senior thesis project, which includes a body of work that is then exhibited in the gallery.”
The culmination of the program is the BFA show. Every semester, the Ogden community has an opportunity to come to the Shaw Gallery at WSU to see the body of work that the graduates of the Bachelors of Fine Arts program have created.
“So the fall BFA show is that body of work, their final projects that they’ve been working on in consultation with the professors and getting feedback on and being critiqued on,” Lee said. “It will also be the first time they have the opportunity to show their work in a professional gallery setting.”
The students featured in the gallery focus on a specific media they have been studying during their time at WSU. Some students’ bodies of work includes several media.
“This particular BFA thesis show, there’s visual communications, which is graphic design, photography,” Lee said. “There’s also two video installations, and there is drawing, and one student who’s both painting and (using) sculpture. It’s a variety of student’s work.”
Part of the fine arts courses is giving students a chance to not only create their work, but to critique and be critiqued by their fellows in the program.
“All of these students specialize in certain areas typically,” Lee said. “But some are crossing over in more than one area. So they may be, for instance, focusing on photography, but for the seminar thesis class, they’ll be in the class with students who are not just photography students.”
Students have two required courses, a seminar and a thesis that need to be completed in order to obtain a fine arts degree rather than the general visual arts degree.
“I think some start their junior year when they get into the BFA program,” Lee said. “As far as this particular body of work, I would guess that most of it has been done this year. They take BFA seminar and then they take the BFA thesis, the sort of final senior class. In both of those classes, they’re preparing for the final project.”
The fine arts program focuses partially on artistic skill, but really emphasizes the concept of finding meaning in the artwork and being able to express that meaning effectively.
“The thesis people are working specifically toward presenting their thesis exhibition in the year and really fine-tuning their statement about their work and fine-tuning a professional exhibition of that work,” said Matthew Choberka, WSU Department of Visual Arts chair. “So the seminar people are kind of getting a preview of that process. They’re beginning to develop their work independently, but they’re not finishing up the semester with a major exhibition.”
The seminar class gives fine arts students a look into how they will be developing their own bodies of work during their thesis class.
“Both the Bachelor of Fine Arts seminar and thesis class are cross-disciplinary,” Choberka said. “So students in all of the different studio areas except for Vis Comm (visual communications) meet in a group where they might meet with visiting artists or critics. They have two professors that meet with them every week. The primary goal of the class is to develop that body of work. So they are not working on an assignment basis anymore, but on the basis of what are their unique concerns for their work.”
The BFA exhibit will kick off on Dec. 7 with an open house from 7-9 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The featured artists will be there to discuss their bodies of work.