student reviewing work on wall of classroom

First-Year Core Program

The First-Year Core Program at the Department of Art and Art History is a hands-on, community-based, year-long experience that affords new students in all degree programs—Studio Art, Art History, and Art Education—a primer in technical proficiencies and conceptual competencies to assist in their eventual entry into the various professional fields of visual art.

@utartcore  #aahcore

Be sure to check out our Student Insights videos from Itamar, Abby, Kalen, Diego and Emily learn more about the First Year Program through the voices of individual students at various stages of their academic career in the Department of Art and Art History. 


Inquiry — The First-Year Core Program introduces the pursuit of knowledge as a fundamental precept of a life in the visual arts. Research, ideation, and a search for conceptual understanding are the starting place for all student projects.

Invention — Creative problem-solving and a commitment to new and unique solutions are encouraged. Students are pushed to process acquired knowledge into something that provides original insight.

Craft — An awareness and sensitivity to material usage. As young makers, students are introduced to the language of visual form through a variety of project prompts each with specific materials to explore.

Context — The language of form and composition is universal and fundamental to the discourse of visual arts. Students must become versed in this language in order to make and to intelligently discuss making (critique). The First-Year Core Program introduces context in relationship to art history and culture.

Community — Visual makers and thinkers do not exist in a vacuum, but instead rely heavily on their community for critical feedback and support. Students are scheduled into cohorts, allowing for maximum collaboration, connectivity and crossover to happen within the classroom and with their peers.

Studio Courses

ART 301C — Core Studio I: Surface / Image / Practice
Core Studio I emphasizes the creation of planar works and the exploration of their formal principles and conceptual concerns. Students will work in traditional and digital media.

ART 302C — Core Studio II: Line / Mark / Observation
Core Studio II emphasizes traditional drawing principles and their function within a contemporary context. Collaborative and technology-based projects will allow students to envision and understand drawing in a contemporary context. 

ART 303C — Core Studio III: Space / Time / Process
Core Studio III emphasizes the creation of spatial and time-based works and the exploration of their formal principles and conceptual concerns. Students will work with space, time, structure, process and material.

Note — Art History majors choose between Core Studio I and Core Studio II, and do not take Core Studio III. Studio Art and UTeach Art majors take all three Core Studios.

Art History Courses

In addition to the Core Studios, all students take the following Art History courses within the first year of study.

ARH 302 — Survey of Ancient through Medieval Art
A study of selected visual works throughout the world from prehistoric time to 1400 CE.

ARH 303 — Survey of Renaissance through Modern Art
A study of selected visual works throughout the world from 1400 CE to the present.

Faculty and Staff

Beili Liu, Director, First-Year Core Program
Professor, First-Year Core and Studio Art (Sculpture & Extended Media)

Zach Meisner, Core I Area Head
Assistant Professor of Practice

Megan Hildebrandt, Core II Area Head
Associate Professor of Practice

Erin Cunningham, Core III Area Head
Assistant Professor of Practice

Clarke Curtis, First-Year Core Program Tech

Peter Abrami, Lecturer

Sarah Fagan, Lecturer

Brooke Frank, Lecturer

Renee Lai, Lecturer

Mark Kovitya, Lecturer

Brooke Davis (Design), Lecturer

Jose Perez (Design), Lecturer

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