AUGUST 29, 2022 — The University of Texas at San Antonio today announced the establishment of the School of Art, a new school within the College of Liberal and Fine Arts (COLFA) created as a result of the university’s integration with the Southwest School of Art (SSA).
The school will be the administrative home for the university’s current undergraduate and graduate degrees in studio art and art history, as well as the minor in museum studies. More than 450 students are enrolled in these programs in the fall, including all students who transferred in from in SSA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program.
The development and approval of a new BFA curriculum has been central to the creation of the new school. The curriculum incorporates key elements from the previous UTSA and SSA BFA programs, including a focus on interdisciplinarity, professionalism and career-engaged artistic formation.
This fall, for example, more than 150 undergraduates will be taking BFA classes at the former SSA campus—now known as the UTSA Southwest Campus—in interdisciplinary and specialized techniques, as well as art history, that fully utilize the now singular faculty and the unique capabilities on the campus.
Associate Professor of Art Libby Rowe will serve as the interim director of the school. As incoming department chair of the Department of Art and Art History for the past year, Rowe has worked closely with former SSA faculty and art and art history faculty to combine the BFA programs.
“Both UTSA and SSA have strong ties to the San Antonio arts community and artists, and our faculty, students and staff are committed to growing an even stronger connection through the School of Art,” said Rowe.
The national search for the founding director of the new school is currently underway.
Earlier this summer, UTSA initiated the process to select a name for the new school that honors the longstanding SSA mission to be a catalyst for unlocking the creative potential of the San Antonio community and advances the vision to be a model for arts education.
An advisory committee comprised of faculty and staff and community members, including longtime community stakeholders of SSA, provided input for the formulation of a new name. College of Liberal and Fine Arts Dean Glenn Martínez then conducted outreach and gained feedback from a broader constituency of internal and external stakeholders.
“The ‘School of Art’ name is foundational, a necessary first step, to recognizing its visual fine arts programs. At the same time, it allows for future flexibility as the school, under the leadership of the founding director, develops a fuller vision and strategic plan to advance university arts education as part of our role as San Antonio’s public research university,” said Martínez. “Additionally, public activities associated with the school and taking place at the Southwest Campus will be designated as 'School of Art at UTSA Southwest' in recognition of SSA’s indelible legacy in our city.”
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy said the school and new BFA curriculum—with its focus on interdisciplinarity, artistic professionalism and career-engaged learning—will prepare artists to make an impact on the city and region.
“Within the School of Art, degree-seeking students and faculty will work collaboratively to create opportunities for expanding their knowledge and understanding of artistic media to advance their careers as professional artists,” Espy said. “With the now integrated facilities and faculties across the former SSA and Department of Art and Art History, the new School of Art heralds a fundamental milestone on the road to becoming a national exemplar in university arts education.”
As part of its overarching re-commitment to arts education and enterprise for San Antonio and the South Texas region, COLFA continues to work on the next phase of the SSA integration, creating a new initiative for community-engaged arts within the college. The new initiative will comprise the college’s public-facing arts activities, exhibitions and events, including art, music, dance, theater and, notably, SSA’s longstanding community art classes. An announcement is expected this fall.
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