At Pitzer College, Field Groups (similar to a discipline or department) organize major requirements and courses.

The Art Field Group provides a rigorous and unique program of study with a deep commitment to interdisciplinary learning, intercultural understanding, social responsibility, community engagement, and environmental sustainability. We believe firmly and aspire to develop in our students an appreciation for how art, in all its forms, can transform perceptions and make positive and lasting change in the world.

Our art program is distinctive in that it includes four studio art faculty, one art historian and one gallery director/curator working collaboratively. This unique makeup, along with our desire to collaborate inside and outside of the discipline of art, allows us to craft exciting, experimental and multidisciplinary coursework that goes beyond the traditional boundaries of art. The art program helps students develop the technical skills, craftsmanship, attention to detail, critical thinking and problem solving skills alongside conceptual rigor and historical understanding in order so that they might create works of art that are informed and compelling.

Sample Courses

Food and the Ceramic Object

For millennia objects and vessels made of clay have been central to food storage and preparation. Ceramics and cooking are symbiotic and have developed deep and abiding relationships in cultures throughout the world. This course explores these relationships through the design and creation of objects hand-in-hand with the process of cooking. Students will learn techniques in the studio and the kitchen that will inform each other and influence their understanding of utility, ergonomics and presentation. An appreciation for the complex and ever evolving relationship between useful objects and food/beverages will be at the core of this course. Students will be required to design, fabricate and glaze their ceramic work as well as research, create and present their finished recipes or foodstuffs. This course will explore the intersection of tradition and innovation while also emphasizing sustainable practices and developing community.

Ovidian Figures

Ovid’s Metamorphoses begins with the poet’s “intention” “to tell of bodies changed/ to different forms.” This course takes up that poem’s iterative, almost compulsive, attempt to capture the very moment at which one “body” ceases to be itself by transforming into something else. Tracing Ovid’s narrative scenes, including the myths of Apollo and Daphne, Echo and Narcissus, Actaeon, Philomela, and Pygmalion (to name a few) across centuries of retelling, refashioning, and reimagining, we will ask: How does one body, one constellation of matter, assume another shape? What is the relation of the human body to the plants and animals and minerals that it can become? How might the design concept of “affordance” encourage us to rethink the capacities of form? Most importantly, we will attempt to answer these questions through two distinct, historically competitive, but mutually generative modalities of inquiry: the verbal and the visual. Co-taught by a literary critic who specializes in poetry and poetic theory and a painter who specializes in figure drawing, course readings and assignments will move across these fields, requiring students to both analyze and create, write and draw, describe and make.

Art and Animals

The seminar explores the emerging interdisciplinary field of “animal studies” from the perspective of art history, criticism, and curatorial work. How have non-human animals been depicted in art, and what have the implications of these representations been for understanding human identity and human interaction with the non-human? How do representations of animals express cultural norms and habits of thought, and how do representations of and relations with animals matter, and to whom? Is art making unique to humans? How have artists explored non-human intelligence? Throughout the semester we will read and discuss texts from a range of perspectives–mostly from art history and art criticism, but from scholars engaged with ancient and contemporary philosophy, anthropology, feminist theory, and animal behavior to name just a few–and in dialogue with the work of artists who are engaged with animals and the idea of the animal in their practice.


Sarah Gilbert
Assistant Professor of Art
[email protected]

  1. Gain knowledge of the vocabularies, histories, theories, and philosophies of art
  2. Learn appropriate research methods
  3. Learn how to communicate effectively about art, visual, and material culture
  4. Be able to think critically about their practice, as an artist or researcher, and refine and revise their work
  5. Define and categorize their practice and research within the context of an art related discipline
  6. Demonstrate professionalism in the presentation and dissemination of their work

Students from Pitzer’s art program have gone on to pursue, graduate degrees in studio art, art history, curatorial studies, and more. Alumni of our program work as studio artists, media artists, arts educators, non-profit administrators, curators, graphic designers, and more.