Academic Department Introduction

The Art Department is an umbrella for five programs: Art History, Studio Art, Architecture, Cinema and Media Studies (CAMS), and Media Arts and Sciences (MAS). Students can major or double major in any of these fields, and they have the option to minor in art history, studio art, or CAMS. We believe the rigorous study of art and visual culture is critical to a liberal arts education and to a person’s power to interpret, shape, and master their environment.

Programs of study

  • Studio art

    Investigate a range of artistic media to acquire technical proficiency and develop a personal material language.

  • Art history

    Gain a critical awareness of visual culture and knowledge of art in its historical and global contexts.

  • Architecture

    Apply interdisciplinary methodologies, critical theories, and professional ethical codes to interpreting architecture and urban form.

  • Cinema & media studies

    Develop agency in the fight against censorship, misinformation, and surveillance that affect media production and consumption.

  • Media arts & sciences

    Examine, analyze, interpret, and critique digital media applications to achieve a well-rounded understanding of both art and computer science.

Course Highlights

  • As an introduction to the arts and architecture of Africa, this course explores the meaning and the contexts of production within a variety of religious and political systems found throughout the continent, from Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mali, to name a few. We will consider important topics such as the ancient art outside the Nile Valley sphere, symbols of the power of royalty, and the aesthetic and spiritual differences in masquerade traditions. We will pay special attention to traditional visual representations in relation to contemporary African artists and art institutions. (AFR 264 and ARTH 264 are cross-listed courses.)
  • This intermediate level studio course addresses a range of sculptural approaches by way of various materials, including clay, wood, metal, plaster, and cardboard. Each of these materials will be used to explore a specific technique or sculptural method such as carving, modeling, or fabrication. By the end of the semester, emphasis shifts towards the completion of more independent projects and conceptual questions regarding the tangible impact of materials, functions, and histories on sculptural artworks.


  • Our galleries

    We exhibit work by visiting professional artists and our own student artists in galleries throughout the Jewett Arts Center and in Pendleton West. At the end of each academic year, all of the spaces are turned over to the Senior and Thesis Exhibition, as our graduating seniors showcase their work.

Places and spaces

  • A closeup shot of a library bookshelf. Two students are browsing the shelf in the background.

    Art Library. Our art and architecture library collections cover the history, theory, criticism, and practice of the visual arts. They include books, exhibition catalogs, periodicals, and access to the major databases for the visual arts

  • Metal letters laid out on a printing press.

    Book Arts Lab. Students learn typography, letterpress printing, hand bookbinding, and decorated papers techniques in the Book Arts Lab, home to the Annis Press imprint.

  • An empty Collins Cinema with 175 seats.

    Collins Cinema. Featuring two 35 mm projectors and cinema seating with a capacity of 175, Collins Cinema hosts CAMS courses, special programs, and student Film Society screenings.

  • Nine students stand in a gallery in the Davis Art Museum. Five are looking at a colorful modern art statue while the rest are looking at artwork on the walls.

    Davis Museum. Home to distinguished permanent collections from around the globe, the Davis Museum holds a rich, wide-ranging collection of global art from ancient Egyptian sculptures to contemporary photography. We make extensive use of the collections to teach in the direct presence of art.

  • A laser cutter imprints the Art Department logo, a black cat, into a piece of wood.

    Digital fabrication studios. A number of digital fabrication processes, including 3D printing, laser cutting, vacuforming, and soldering, are available in the digital fabrication studios. Art students create prototypes, props, and works of art that combine digital rendering and preparatory processes with physical materials, exploring new ways of working in both 2D and 3D.

  • Five camera lenses sit on a black shelf.

    Equipment cage. The cage is a one-stop shop for art students who need equipment rentals or art paper. Students can buy exclusive art paper for painting, drawing, and printmaking classes, or borrow media equipment for photo, video, and new media classes.

  • An empty media room. There is a table in the center with seven gray chairs.

    Digital output and flex media room. In this room, art students can work on a variety of projects in both physical and digital media, using scanners, photo printers, projectors, and computers with color-calibrated monitors.

  • A student stands in the middle of an interactive art piece in the Jewett Art Gallery.

    Jewett Art Gallery. The Art Department’s marquee exhibition space, the Jewett Art Gallery is an extended teaching facility for the Studio Art Program.

  • Three students and a professor install a sculpture shaped like a cornucopia into the Jewett Sculpture Court.

    Jewett Sculpture Court. This light-filled, multilevel room serves as an exhibition space, a meeting place for art-related student clubs, and a spot for students, faculty, and staff to hang out or work between classes.

  • A mirror sits in the middle of an empty stage. The whole picture is illuminated with pink and blue lighting.

    Lighting studio. In this dedicated studio space, students create flexible and customizable lighting setups for a variety of photography, video, and installation-based projects. The attached audio recording suite has a soundproofed room and a mixing and editing space.

  • An empty Media Arts Lab with multiple desktop PCs set up at tables. The PC in the foreground shows the time of 2:04.

    Media Arts Lab. The Media Arts Lab contains Alienware computers with dual monitors and Wacom tablets, as well as high-quality printers, flatbed scanners, an HD projector, a 3D printer, and a vinyl cutter. A variety of software packages are installed on the machines, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Lightroom, Final Cut Pro X, and Autodesk Maya.

  • An empty dark room illuminated in orange light.

    Photography darkroom. With enlargers, developing baths, and other equipment, the darkroom is home to analog photography classes and projects.

  • A modern printing press sits in the foreground of an empty Dactyl Press.

    Printmaking studios. Dactyl Press, the Art Department’s printmaking studio, has a variety of presses and other equipment necessary to make lithographs, etchings, woodcuts, and many other kinds of prints. A separate studio is dedicated to papermaking and screenprinting

  • A private room with mounted speakers, a flat screen TV, and two monitors.

    Video editing suites. These soundproofed rooms have permanently installed equipment to facilitate the editing of digital video, animation, and audio-based work.

  • A student uses a chop saw in an otherwise empty wood shop.

    Wood, metal, and plaster shops. The wood shop spans several rooms and includes a hand tools work area, sculpture area with a plaster room, and spaces with more complex machinery. The shop has a circular saw, band saw, drill press, and CNC machine.


  • Access to local museums

    Wellesley students, faculty, and staff enjoy free admission to the Harvard Art Museums, the Museum of Fine Arts (with ID), and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (with code).

  • Funding for students

    Available to Art Department majors and minors, the Alice T. Friedman Endowed Fund supports research, travel, internships, or special projects intended to help students prepare for careers in the arts.

  • Davis Museum collaboration

    Students can apply to work at the Davis Museum as student workers/docents, summer interns, and members of the Davis Museum Student Advisory Committee

  • Early career support

    The Alice C. Cole ’42 Studio Project Grant provides project-based funding to recent Wellesley College graduates for the development, production, and exhibition of new work in painting and sculpture. The Alice C. Cole ’42 Fellowship is awarded to an emerging painter or sculptor, funding one year of unimpeded time and space to experiment, develop a body of work, and focus on future artistic goals.

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

Most of our graduates work in creative fields, such as fine arts, architecture, film and television, advertising, and design. Some pursue careers in software development and online industries. A considerable number of graduates earn advanced degrees, with some working in higher education.

Department of Art

Jewett Arts Center
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Dave Olsen
Department Chair