Visual Art Program organizes information session on bachelor's degree

The Contemporary Visual Art Program at Birzeit University, in cooperation with Birzeit University Museum, organized an information session on the bachelor of Contemporary Visual Art Program on February 13, 2018.

The session, led by Program Director Dr. Tina Sherwell and Audience Outreach and Communication Officer Lama Altakruri, introduced students to the Visual Art Program, its expected outcomes, and its methods of instruction.

The 4-year bachelor program, said Dr. Sherwell, comprises 135 credit hours designed to engage students in a number of diverse areas and themes, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, 3D, installation, photography, video, film, sound, and performance.

“The idea is to provide students with the opportunity to explore a variety of art forms, skills, and, activities. Exposing students to such a wide range of art forms would allow them to think outside the box and channel their creativity into their projects. It is this creativity, this innovative perspective, that we’re emphasizing here in the Visual Art Program,” Dr. Sherwell noted.

“People might be hesitant to join this program,” she added, “thinking ‘Why would anyone study art?’ Well, this is not only about studying or teaching art and its different forms, but it is about developing a unique view, a personal touch in a world of conformity. We’re providing our students with access to a lot of the tools, methods, and techniques used in art, but we’re also teaching them to use these tools to write, paint, photograph, and sculpt their own personal stories.”

A bachelor’s degree in visual art, remarked Dr. Sherwell, would also facilitate the pursuit of higher education in many art-related fields and would open doors to positions in a variety of creative fields, such as working in the culture sector.

Much like the university’s recent Arabic Music Program, instructors of the Visual Art Program are themselves renowned local and international artists who understand the theory and practice behind art. The program will also hold joint workshops with a number of local and international universities and art institutes.

Students attending the information session asked Dr. Sherwell and Altakruri some questions about the program, the nature of the offered courses, and the availability of a minor program.

A senior student, who plans to return and earn another bachelor’s degree in visual art at Birzeit University after graduation, asked about the tuition costs of the program, which is a normal question that any prospective student would ask.  The program offers scholarships that cover 50% of the tuition costs.

Altakruri can certainly relate to that student. After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology at Birzeit University, she wanted to follow her true passion, visual art. She was awarded a scholarship to study contemporary arts at the International Academy of Art – Palestine. From there, Altakruri was awarded another scholarship to continue her studies at Northwestern University. She wanted her fellow Palestinians to have the same experience she had and express themselves creatively and inventively.

The Visual Art Program team believes in the future of the creative industries in Palestine. “Birzeit University hopes to be launching a BA in design with the founding principles of communication, critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship next year,” said Dr. Sherwell.