Situated between Providence and Cape Cod — and just 60 miles south of Boston and minutes from the beach — UMass Dartmouth is a haven for ambitious artists and designers.
The university has a long tradition of excellence. Its College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the national accrediting body for the visual arts and design.
For graduate Canguo Liu, his time at UMass Dartmouth was transformative. “My UMass Dartmouth MFA journey has prepared me to be a better learner and educator and to be part of the global leading US academic world,” says Liu.
In 2011, Liu came from China to pursue his Master of Fine Arts — Graphic Design at UMass Dartmouth. Today, Liu is a tenured professor at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, California, where he leads the Faculty of Graphic Design.
At UMass Dartmouth, the collaborative interdisciplinary experience in the Star Store campus (located in the heart of downtown New Bedford) brought a new perspective to him. The university also offered him teaching assignments to build job-required experience in the US. Thanks to the advice and support from his thesis advisor, Prof. Spencer Ladd, he became a student who can pursue significant challenges to investigate visual and design’s future — making him the future-forward educator he is today.
His current research is highly experimental and focuses on Data-driven Responsive Graphic Design in an Augmented Reality (AR) world. His theoretical research and AR prototypes became a reality in many fields as technology developed. Now, his innovative pedagogical teaching mixes traditional design classes with new AR/VR/3D and motion content to inspire next-generation workforces and designers.
Liu’s experience is typical across CVPA. In class, Hui Qi’s lecturers were experts in their respective fields — and in making theories come to life with ease. “My most memorable class was the 200-level Imaginative Painting class taught by Adrian Tio, who was very rigorous and focused on painting techniques. He introduced a lot of works by surrealist painters. I was very impressed,” says the Chinese student.
Lecturers were patient in guiding Qi to live out her full creative potential. Through Tio, she discovered her painting style. In the jewellery studio, professional studio assistants like Lilian Webster worked personally with Qi on her work and enthusiastically shared her own tools with her.
Carol S was just as fulfilled at UMass Dartmouth. In her Italian Renaissance Art class, she explored the transition from the Medieval to the Renaissance period — something that resonated with the Indian student. “I felt that if I can understand Medieval Art, I can probably understand elders in the society who focus on religious life because I understood the concept of life in the Medieval and Renaissance,” shares the art history major.
Every CVPA offering is equally impactful. It offers undergraduate degrees in Art and Design, Art Education, Art History, Music, and Music Education. The most recent and very exciting additions to the undergraduate curriculum are a BS in Interior Archtecture and Design and a BFA in Fashion Design. The College also offers various MFA programmes covering Graphic Design, Animation and Game Art (Digital Arts), Illustration, Sculpture, Ceramics and Painting, among others. One-year Post-Baccalaureate Certificates in Artisanry, Design, and Fine Arts help students refine their skills and develop a portfolio that will help them fulfil their long-term ambitions as well.
Each offers practical, theoretical and creative instruction that prioritises the needs and aspirations of every student. Small class sizes complement the hands-on experiences – a combination that delivers an impactful education and sparks passionate discussions. Moderating these conversations are full-time faculty of established artists, designers, performers, and scholars who are dedicated to exploring, making, and learning.
Learning occurs in state-of-the-art facilities catering to all kinds of creative interests, including ceramics, drawing, painting, graphic design, illustration, music, photography, jewellery, sculpture, textile and fibre arts, and more.
The UMass Dartmouth’s Star Store campus in New Bedford houses various disciplines, fostering a communal artistic environment where multidisciplinary projects and collaborations are possible. Students can exhibit and curate pieces at the Star Store’s 244 Gallery.
Off-campus trips spur more creativity outside the classroom. “I remember visiting the library of the Rhode Island School of Design for one of our Book Design classes,” says Qi. “This semester, we went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to see its extensive jewellery collection.” CVPA’s institutional memberships at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston allow its students to visit either museum without charge.
Professional advancement doesn’t end there. Staff at UMass Dartmouth’s Career Centre guide students in drafting cover letters, reviewing resumes, job or internship searches, and mock interviews, among others. They are committed to preparing students to secure gainful employment upon graduation.
Look beyond the excellent facilities and faculty expertise, and international students have the hidden gems of Massachusetts to make a lifetime of memories from. The campus is close to the state’s most beautiful beaches, and a stone’s throw away from the larger metropolitan centres of Boston, Providence, and New York City.
Nervous about adapting to this environment? A Summer Orientation will help you fit right in. “I remember my first day at school. I was very nervous and worried. The school wasn’t officially open when I arrived for the international student orientation. The school was quiet, big and unfamiliar to me,” says Qi.
That didn’t last long. “The school summer orientation gave us students from all over the world a chance to stay together and get used to the life, environment and food. There are also buses to show us around!”
So, what are you waiting for? Apply to UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts today and advance your creative pursuits.
Follow UMass Dartmouth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn