Art program

Undergrad major Undergrad minor Teacher license

Photography. Design. Sculptures. Paintings.

Art is all around us. Studying art leads to distinct career paths, depending on your specialization. A degree in art also builds skills such as creativity, persistence, problem solving and critical thinking, which are valuable in careers outside the field.

UWL's Art Department blends liberal studies education with small studio classes where students gain hands-on experience. The department offers a creative and educational environment that encourages intellectual development, visual literacy and artistic production. All art majors will gain professional experience installing their own senior exhibition and learn about the business of art in the professional practices course.

Art careers

Teaching: The need for certified/licensed K-12 art teachers continues to be in high demand. School districts consistently seek UWL graduates in art education due to the rigor of UWL's program. UWL offers an Art Education major for those interested in this path.

Business and industry: Graduates may seek employment in areas of business and industry such as visual arts, multimedia design, illustration, communications and public relations.

Create and sell: Opportunities also exist for artists to make all or part of their living through sales of their works. Advanced training and hard work are essential, but individual competence is of the utmost importance.

Earn an advanced degree: With an ongoing need for professors of art, the UWL Art Department encourages and aids capable art graduates in pursuing master of fine arts (M.F.A.) and doctoral degrees required for college teaching. Although the department does not offer a full-degree program in art history, it provides a sound foundation for students pursuing an advanced degree. College and university teaching, museum work, conservation and restoration of art objects, and consultant positions in government and industry are available to those with an advanced degree in art history.


  • Art teacher (with teacher certification or at art institutes, colleges, or universities with an advanced degree)
  • Craftsperson
  • Freelance artist
  • Digital artist/web designer/videographer
  • Museum/gallery (various positions)
  • Photographer
  • Architect
  • Art/architectural historian
  • Arts administrator
  • Art director/editor
  • Ceramist
  • Curator
  • Gallery owner/director
  • Digital designer
  • Filmmaker
  • Illustrator
  • Interior designer
  • Jeweler
  • Jewelry designer
  • Multimedia artist
  • Metals researcher
  • Museum educator
  • Professional artist
  • Conservation and restoration
  • Technical artist

What distinguishes UWL's art program?

Out-of-classroom art experiences

All students are encouraged to participate in various out-of-class experiences including department or faculty-led field trips to museums and galleries in Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago and Minneapolis; local, regional, and national art competitions in various studio areas; and undergraduate research designed for the student’s own interests and personal vision.

Exhibit your work

Art majors will gain professional experience installing their own senior exhibition and learn about the “business” of art in the Professional Practices course. Also, students are encouraged to apply for exhibition opportunities either in the La Crosse arts community or in other cities.

Excellent facilities and low student-to-faculty ratio

Our student-centered curriculum and low student-to-faculty ratio provide individualized mentorship and a rich sense of community. Art studios and classrooms offer students a dynamic creative environment for learning and feature a mix of new and traditional approaches to ceramics, digital art & design, drawing, metals, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, art education, and art history.

University Art Gallery

The University Art Gallery, located in the UWL Center for the Arts, schedules art exhibitions by students, faculty, and regional and nationally-known artists. In conjunction with the gallery program, the department hosts visiting artists to present lectures and workshops for students and the public.

Job opportunities in the department

Art students have the opportunity to gain professional experience working in the Department of Art as studio assistants, digital imaging specialists, gallery assistants, lab technicians, and administrative support.

Scholarships and awards

Annually, the Department of Art gives promising art students scholarships and awards, including several specifically dedicated to incoming first-year art students.

  • The School of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) scholarships and awards
  • All Student Juried Exhibition awards
  • Work Study employment/assistantships in the Department of Art
  • Undergraduate Research and Creativity Grants also support independent art projects, research and travel. 
Study abroad and earn art credit

Art department faculty recognize the importance of international exposure to students of the arts. Students are encouraged to spend a semester, a full year, or a one-month summer opportunity studying abroad. The Art Department supports such programs for university credit in many parts of the world. 

Faculty are working artists, educators and mentors

Students receive individualized support and mentoring from UWL Art Department faculty. Faculty have all earned the terminal degree in their discipline from well-recognized universities and strive to be excellent teachers, working artists and scholars. Faculty are active in exhibiting and publishing their own works internationally, nationally and regionally.

Professional Associations

The Art Department encourages connections with a variety of professional associations: AIGA, the professional association for design; American Craft Council; Coalition of Active Sculpture Teachers; College Art Association; Foundations in Art: Theory and Education; Mid America Print Council; National Art Education Association; Phi Delta Kappa; SCG International; Society of North American Goldsmiths; Society for Photographic Education; and Wisconsin Art Education Association.

Areas of study


Art involves using creativity, imagination and technical skills to invoke an emotion, communicate an idea or appeal esthetically. Studying art allows creative expression difficult to find in many traditional college courses. It helps students build skills and values such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, critical judgment, tolerance of ambiguity, appreciation of diversity, aesthetic literacy, and more.

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Completion of the Art Education Program and associated benchmark assessments will lead to endorsement for a Wisconsin teaching license in Art Education for grades K-12.

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Sample courses

ART 160 General Art Foundations An introductory course in visual art, with emphasis on understanding the methods of art making in a variety of studio disciplines. Topics include recognition of visual elements and principles of design, methods of applying these elements and principles throughout a variety of art forms, thematic development, relationship of the visual arts to other fields of human endeavor, and an introduction to writing about visual art. Course content includes representative paradigms of world art, Western art, multicultural and contemporary art. Critical thinking is explored through responses to the visual arts through active involvement with various creative processes and media. Offered Fall, Spring.

ART 206 Introduction to Digital Art and Design for Non-Art Majors This is an introductory studio art course surveying the growing field of digital art and design. This class will explore the process of visual expression, communication with attention to aesthetic considerations, and art created using a wide range of digital media. This class will also introduce digital tools to produce original, creative work. Using creative software, students will create a diverse array of art and design works, spanning digital imaging, compositing, and video editing. As with all fine arts studio courses, conceptual creative approach and development is prioritized. A basic knowledge of computer use is required. Lect. 2, Studio 4. Prerequisite: not open to art majors or minors. Offered Fall, Spring.

ART 498 Professional Practices and Exhibition This capstone course is intended to assist students in the final stages of their education and help in the establishment of career goals beyond the college experience. Further the course will expose students to the theory and practice of the exhibition and presentation of artwork. This course will prepare students for the senior exhibition by fostering an understanding of professional presentation and an appreciation of the methodologies of presentation. Prerequisite: art major; senior standing. Consent of department. Offered Fall, Spring.

ART 252

ART 204

ART 221 Introduction to Metalsmithing This course provides the student's introductory experience to a studio-based approach to visual art in the three-dimensional realm. Students apply design elements and principles to projects and experiences as they occur in the physical world. Concentration will focus on expanding visual vocabulary through investigations of introductory nonferrous metal fabrication and construction techniques utilized in the creation of jewelry and metal objects. The course will explore conceptual problem solving, introductory constructions/fabrication techniques, and an investigation into the inherent qualities of non-ferrous materials. Cutting, soldering, finishing, surface enrichment, cold connections, forming, forging, and raising will be covered in this course. Lect. 2, Studio 4. Offered Fall, Spring.

ART 306 Drawing and Painting Media This course explores a variety of media and techniques and provides an expanded experience with drawing and painting. Students will be encouraged to work thematically as they build a portfolio with breadth in media and depth of expression. Studio practice emphasizes the hybridization of personal expression and the relationship between scale, media, and image; such issues will be examined in a variety of formats and techniques. Studio work will focus on experimentation beyond traditional drawing practice. Sources and examples by artists from the past--as well as the present--will be used to direct the students in this class toward inventive solutions for the assigned projects. The materials emphasized in this course include pen, ink, graphite, collage, acrylic, oil stick, and digital imaging. Lect. 2, Studio 4. Prerequisite: ART 162 or one 200-level studio course. Offered Fall, Spring.

ART 315 Writing About Art This is an advanced course with a focus on research, analytical skills and writing about art. Students analyze essays by different artists, scholars, and critics, and will learn the practice of different forms of art writing, including formal analysis, wall text, exhibition review, and research paper. Prerequisite: ART 251. Offered Spring.

ART 318 Print Media II This course is the second of a two-part introductory series of studio courses designed for students interested in exploring the printed image's possibilities. The course is structured around two modules, each focusing on traditional analog and contemporary digital approaches to lithography and intaglio printmaking. Students will learn about the role these media had in the history of art and visual communication and examine their range of applications existing within contemporary fine art practice. Class participants will be required to produce a body of work utilizing the materials covered in class. Instruction includes tutorials, slide presentations, visiting artist lectures, assigned projects, readings, and critiques. Lect. 2, Studio 4. Prerequisite: ART 218. Offered Fall, Spring.

ART 372 Photography and Imaging II This intermediate photography course explores techniques of digital capture, photographic editing software, image compositing, large-scale digital printing, and studio lighting. Students produce creative projects and investigate the work of a wide range of digital photographers and related artists. Class time consists of demonstrations, lectures, discussions, studio sessions, and group critiques. To complete the assignments for this course, each student must have access to an external hard drive and a digital camera with manual exposure control and the ability to capture RAW files. A limited number of cameras are available for rent through the UWL Photography Lab. Lect. 2, Studio 4. Prerequisite: ART 272. Offered Fall, Spring.

ART 431

ART 162 Drawing Foundations Drawing foundations introduces the student to a studio-based approach to the visual arts. Students in this course will learn to use and explore the descriptive and expressive characteristics of various drawing media. Students will also use close observation and analysis of visual experience. The course is primarily a study of perceptual observation, the materials and methods of drawing being the vehicle for investigation and interpretation. Lect. 2, Studio 4. Offered Fall, Spring.