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Department of Art

Art For All: BYU Offers Non-Major Art Classes

BYU Students and Faculty Believe that Art Classes Benefit Non Art Majors on Campus

BYU’s Department of Art offers multiple art classes for non-major students. These art classes fulfill general education art requirements and elective credits but many students continue to take them long after their requirements have been fulfilled. Students and faculty feel that these art classes, which are open to all students, add value to the student’s lives and to campus at large. Marissa Albrecht, a 2D Studio Adjunct Faculty member, Daniel Anderson, a sophomore studying psychology and Corinne Ingerson, a neuroscience major in the honors program, share the value they see in these courses.

Art classes contribute to students’ various majors

Many students that Albrecht encounters have an interest in creative thinking and artistic endeavors but their majors take priority. However, creative thinking can positively impact students’ major studies. “The objective of a non-major art class is not to encourage students to switch their major to art — although sometimes that happens,” Albrecht said. “My goal is to show students a variety of ways to make and discuss art, so they increase their creative confidence.”

Dirty yellow and pink paint containers sit on a counter.

Art classes may not be required in Anderson’s major but they are applicable to his future career plans. “My major is psychology, but I eventually want to go into the art therapy field,” he said. “It’s very important that I have an understanding of art concepts and techniques so that I can teach them to clients and help them use those techniques to help process their emotions and past experiences.”

Albrecht said that by getting to know her students’ interests outside school, she can better help them understand how art relates to their lives. “It is common to discuss how the principles of art relate to things outside of design,” she said.

Art classes provide stress release and mood regulation

Taking an art class during the semester can offer students a break from their normal assignments and allows them to use their mind in a new way. Anderson believes that art classes are “a good source of stress-relief and can be helpful in processing thoughts and feelings.” Although his painting class was in the evenings, when motivation was at an overall low, he never missed a single class. “There was definitely a change in my mood when I took the [painting] class. I was a lot more calm and stress didn’t get to me as much as it normally would,” he said. “Even when I was tired beyond belief, I’d be there, eager to learn more.”

Corinne Ingerson believes that taking an art class helped her refocus her priorities, which put her in a better mood. “I started to take pride in my work and wanted to do art for the experience, not just the grade.”

Art professors like Albrecht include visits to the campus Museum of Art (MOA) as part of their required assignments, including a guided tour and self exploration time. These types of assignments give students the opportunity to explore a quiet part of campus they might not frequent and build quiet reflective time into the students’ busy schedules.

Art classes teach students how to embrace failure without fear

According to Albrecht, one of the most valuable lessons non-major students can learn from art classes is how to grapple with failure. She said, “Students of any age need to be reminded that experimenting with the possibility of failure is expected and supported in the learning process.”

The possibility for failure, large or small, is something every student faces. Art classes teach students how to face failure without fear. “Students will recognize what their limitations are in art (time, skill, money, space, etc.) and are taught to embrace those in the creative process,” Albrecht said. “Because no two drawings look alike and there is more than one method to succeed, students can challenge themselves through their own limitations.”

Albrecht finds the most satisfaction in teaching her non-major students about the benefits of art, not simply the techniques. “When students embrace experimentation and expressiveness without fear, I know the class has fulfilled its purpose for them.”

Ingerson says that the art class she took has done just that: “Not only have I learned more about art but I’ve also learned creativity, connection and respect.”

“I’ve been recommending Professor Albrecht’s Art 101 class to anyone who will listen!” says Ingerson. Anderson agrees, “I would 100 percent recommend an art class to non-majors. Even if you’re not ‘good at art,’ it’s still fun to learn. There are classes [at BYU] for absolute beginners, so there’s no need to worry.”

A student layers blue paint onto a canvas with a painting knife.
Painting class.

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