While the concentration in the Visual Arts builds on the Chicago tradition of emphasis on critical thinking and the development, testing and revision of ideas, we shift the emphasis to place paramount importance on critical perception in an environment that is now more than ever so dominated by the visual. All of our Visual Arts teaching underscores the fact that perception involves the complex interaction of the senses and the intellect as reflected in art and in our understanding of the larger visual world. Teaching students to see critically through making images is as integral to our practice as textual analysis is central to academic practice. Our course of study develops a powerful set of means which allows students to become sensitive and consciously aware of phenomena such as the relative nature of color; the particular measure of space - both real and illusionistic; and the ways in which our perceptual experiences give meaning to forms in the visual field.
As these means are acquired, the visual world fuses with the world of ideas, becoming a site of aesthetic pleasure, philosophical inquiry, social critique, political activism and psychological understanding.
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Click here to watch interviews with the faculty about the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.