For individuals with artistic talent who are considering a career in the arts, Alabama is home to four major universities, as well as liberal arts and community colleges, that all have Art Departments offering majors in commercial and fine arts. The University Of Alabama Department Of Art, located in Tuscaloosa, is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, as is the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa is also accredited by the Council for Interior Design, as are Samford University and Auburn University. Alabama students can pursue arts degrees in design, architecture and technical arts at Alabama’s independent technical schools as well.
Alabama offers a combination of small, charming towns and bustling urban areas. Students can choose between study at urban universities or small-town liberal arts colleges. Alabama hosts the Birmingham Museum Of Art, the Alabama Theatre and the annual Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Smaller communities are home to galleries of Native American, African America and Folk Art, reflecting the region’s rich heritage.
Students attending the University of Alabama in Birmingham, for example, participate in internships and a program that draws on the creative resources of Alabama’s largest city, working with local museums and galleries. The Art Department offers concentrations in ceramics, drawing, graphic design, painting, printmaking, culture, time based media, art history and art education.
The highly-regarded Tuskegee University, in Tuskegee. Alabama, one of the nation’s leading historically black colleges, houses a department of Fine and Performing Arts that seeks to develop appreciation and understanding of aesthetic expression and development of skills through individual critique, studio activity and classroom instruction.
The smaller Spring Hill College in Mobile Alabama, the third oldest Jesuit College in the U.S., set in a charming neighborhood of towering Oak trees and historic buildings, houses a Division of Communication, Fine and Performing Arts where students are encouraged to gain an understanding of art as communication and explore how personal expression reflects and changes the broader culture. Fine Arts majors can focus on Studio Art and Art Business to prepare for careers as artists, designers or illustrators, or as arts managers or employment in galleries or museums. Students who major in graphic design can prepare for jobs in web and multimedia environments.
Auburn University, in the small town of Auburn Alabama, founded in 1856, was the first large land grant university in the south and currently enrolls over 24,000 students. The Auburn Department of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art where students can concentrate in ceramics, painting & drawing, printmaking or sculpture. BFA students complete 48 hours of studio work, along with in-depth coursework in their concentration. Students are challenged to develop their own approach to their work and personal creative expression.
Students wishing to pursue careers in the arts can attend Alabama’s historical institutions and develop their aesthetic, intellectual and art-making skills. Undergraduate arts majors often go on to graduate school as preparation for their careers. Bachelor of Arts programs in most of Alabama’s colleges and universities include general liberal arts studies and often a specific core curriculum in the traditional areas of literature, history, science, etc. Students then focus on arts courses, especially in their upper division years.
Exploring art on the undergraduate level in a nurturing, supportive atmosphere can help students develop a sense of their own artistic vision and career direction. While some graduates may choose to take the challenging road of being an independent artist or artisan, others can apply their skills to jobs in commercial and communications fields, as graphic designers, advertising creative staff, interior decorators, web and media artists and commercial illustrators. A college degree will facilitate entry into arts careers, as well as develop individual technique and skill.