Visual Arts

School of Arts & Sciences

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University provides students with hands-on art making experience within a variety of media and methods. Students develop an understanding of the language of visual arts and develop a personal approach to its unique expressive capabilities. Instruction and intensive studio practice equip students with the ability to express their ideas with skill and conviction. Study of art history and engagement with contemporary art and artists by way of the NWOSU Artist-in-Residence program, encourages and challenges students to think both critically and imaginatively about their work in a greater context.

The principal component of the Visual Arts program is rigorous studio activity within a supportive, critical environment. Visual Arts students are granted access to professional art studios and equipment that facilitate ambitious creative endeavors. Daily discussions and regular critiques foster the development of a critical vocabulary and visual analysis. Skills cultivated as Visual Arts majors and minors prepare students for advanced study in studio art and entry into professional artistic employment. 

Create with us!

Artist-in-Residence Program

Graceful Arts Center


Thomas Cornell
Assistant Professor of Visual Arts
Department of Fine Arts
Jesse Dunn 326
(580) 327-8111

David Poindexter
Associate Professor of Visual Arts
Department of Fine Arts
Jesse Dunn Annex 326B
(580) 327-8108


NWOSU Art Society

Visual Arts Major

The Visual Arts Major is comprised of 45 credit-hours of art courses across a variety of media and disciplines, culminating in a final exhibition of the students' work.

Required courses:

  • ART 1001 Visual Arts Major Seminar - 1 cr.
  • ART 1103 Fundamentals of 2D Art - 3 cr.
  • ART 1303 Fundamentals of 3D Art - 3 cr.
  • ART 1403 Fundamentals of Drawing - 3 cr.
  • ART 2023 Art History I - 3 cr.
  • ART 2033 Art History II - 3 cr.
  • ART 2203 Photography I - 3 cr
  • ART 2213 Figure Drawing - 3 cr.
  • ART 3801 Junior Seminar - 1 cr.
  • ART 4301 Senior Seminar - 1 cr.
  • ART 4323 Professional Practice & Gallery Administration - 3 cr.
  • ART 4703 Advanced Studio/Senior Exhibition - 3 cr.

Core electives – Choose 3 of the following: 9 hours

  • ART 3133 Printmaking I - 3 cr.
  • ART 3143 Painting I - 3 cr.
  • ART 3153 Sculpture I - 3 cr.
  • ART 3173 Graphic Design I - 3 cr.

Directed electives – Choose 2 of the following: 6 hours

  • ART 3323 Contemporary Visual Language: Aesthetics, Criticism, and New Media - 3 cr.
  • ART 3163 Natural History Drawing - 3 cr.
  • ART 4103 Painting II - 3 cr.
  • ART 4133 Sequential Art - 3 cr.
  • ART 4203 Photography II - 3 cr.
  • ART 4233 Printmaking II - 3 cr.
  • ART 4253 Sculpture II - 3 cr.
  • ART 4273 Graphic Design II - 3 cr.
  • ART 4900 Special Topics - 1-3 cr.

45 hours total

For a detailed look at the course requirements and descriptions for the Visual Arts major, please see the Undergraduate Catalog.

Visual Arts Minor

The Visual Arts Minor requires the completion of 21 credits. The minor is designed to allow students to focus in a specific media or discipline and culminates in an exhibition of their work.

  • ART 1103  Fundamentals of Two-Dimensional Art: 3 cr.
  • ART 2013  Art History Survey: 3 cr.
  • ART 2213  Life Drawing: 3 cr.
  • ART 3143  Beginning Painting: 3 cr.
  • ART 3163  Natural History Drawing: 3 cr.
  • ART 3173  Digital Illustration: 3 cr.
  • ART 4103  Intermediate Painting: 3 cr.
  • ART 4123  Advanced Studio: 3 cr.

21 hours total

*Art in Life, HUM 2433  - Must be taken as a directed elective under “Human Heritage & Culture” of the general education requirements. Although the course is required, it may not be counted in the minimum total for a minor.

For a detailed look at the course requirements and descriptions for the Visual Arts minor, please see the Undergraduate Catalog.


Alva Incentive Scholarship

The Alva Incentive Scholarship* is available to incoming freshmen and transfer students, and provides students with up to $1,000 when they declare an art major or minor. Students must enroll in at least one Visual Arts course each semester during their first year at NWOSU. 

* Alva Incentive Scholarship is available only to new incoming students. Students must be living in the city limits of Alva at time of enrollment.

Visual Arts Foundation (Departmental) Scholarships

The Northwestern Oklahoma  State University Foundation administers several awards in visual arts. Applicants for these  awards must meet specific criteria and should submit a departmental scholarship application by February 5 of each year.  

  1. The Bobette Buchanan Pfeifer Visual Arts Scholarship was established by the family of Bobette Buchanan Pfeifer, an accomplished photographer, to allow Northwestern students to pursue their mutual love of the visual arts. Candidates must be accepted as a full-time continuing student at Northwestern and have at least a 3.0 CGPA in the art minor. Candidates must also have completed two or more art classes in order to receive the scholarship. The scholarship may be applied toward university-related expenses, including tuition, fees, books, room and board.

  2. The Case Family Scholarship was established in honor of James Case and the Case family. The Case Family Scholarship will be awarded to a student either in the Department of Fine Arts (Visual Arts-even-numbered years) or the Mass Communication program (odd-numbered years). The recipient must be a full-time student at Northwestern with at least a 3.5 overall GPA and remain active in the respective departments' campus organizations and major or minor in art or mass communication. First preference will be given to students from Waynoka, OK. Second preference will be given to students from Woods County, OK. Third preference will be given to students from northwest Oklahoma. The scholarship may be applied toward university-related expenses, including tuition, fees, books, room and board.

Course Offerings

To view Visual Arts course rotations, click on the following link: Visual Arts Course Rotations

ART 1001 Visual Arts Major Seminar

This seminar for lower-division majors is a general overview of a career in the visual arts, examining what skills are crucial to success in various artistic fields. Students will learn the fundamentals of art criticism and analysis through discussion of contemporary artworks. The course may include field trips to local and regional arts organizations and museums. Pre: ART MAJOR

ART 1103 Fundamentals of Two-Dimensional Art

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts used in the production of two-dimensional art. Students will learn to apply the elements of art and principles of design to the creation and analysis of original artworks. Students will work with a variety of materials and techniques including graphite, ink, acrylic paint, collage, and printmaking. Projects emphasize composition, creative problem-solving, and craft. Open to all students.

ART 1303 Fundamentals of Three-Dimensional Art

This course is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts used to create three-dimensional art. Students will learn to apply the design process towards the creation and analysis of original artworks which emphasize spatial form. Students will work with different materials and processes using a variety of tools and techniques. Projects emphasize composition, creative problem-solving, and craft. Open to all students.

ART 1403 Fundamentals of Drawing

This course introduces the fundamentals of observational drawing. Students will learn different strategies for analyzing and rendering pictorial space using a variety of drawing media, including graphite and charcoal. Techniques for rendering proportion, spatial depth, and surface texture will be applied to a variety of subjects. Projects will emphasize composition, creative problem-solving, and craft. Open to all students.

ART 2023 Art History I (Prehistory – Renaissance)

This course is a survey of art from prehistory through the Renaissance. It considers the visual culture of Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, and other global cultures of antiquity, and their impacts on Medieval and Renaissance art and architecture in Europe. Significant works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other media are examined within their historical context.

ART 2033 Art History II (Renaissance – Contemporary Art)

This course surveys the development of visual art from the Renaissance through the 20th Century. Content includes the Baroque, Modernism, and Postmodernism analyzed within the context of their time periods. The course also examines art movements in other global cultures and how artistic influences proliferated in an increasingly globalized society.

ART 2203 Photography I

This course offers practical instruction in digital photography by teaching the fundamentals of camera operation, composition, and digital image editing workflow. Students will explore several genres of photographic subject matter in natural light and controlled settings. The course addresses the theory and objectives to consider when photographing these genres. Students will learn the basics of Adobe Photoshop as it applies to editing photographic images. A digital camera is required. Open to all students.

ART 2213 Figure Drawing

This is an intermediate course in observational drawing focusing on the study of the anatomical structure and interpretive representation of the human figure. Drawings will be made from master drawings, anatomical plates, plaster casts, and the live model. Course will also include a section on drapery study and the clothed figure. Pre: ART 1403

ART 3133 Printmaking I

In this course, students are introduced to the fundamentals of printmaking through relief, intaglio, and screen-printing processes. Students will design and print their own imagery from hand-drawn and photographic sources. The course addresses the historical context of printing processes and the fine art multiple. Projects focus on mark-making, composition, layer registration, and print quality. Pre: ART 1103

ART 3143 Painting I

This course familiarizes students with basic watercolor and oil painting materials, methods, and concepts. Topics include basic color theory, historical painting techniques and concepts, illusionistic space, and safe handling of materials. This course emphasizes working from observation. Class will include exploration of the ways in which paintings make meaning and communicate ideas. Pre: ART 1403

ART 3153 Sculpture I

This course introduces a variety of traditional and contemporary sculpting processes and materials. Students will design complex forms in bas-relief and in the round. Projects will address traditional subject matter through additive, reductive, and assemblage processes. Students will explore alternative sculpting materials and create large-scale works. Pre: ART 1303

ART 3163 Natural History Drawing

Students will create drawings both from specimens in the collection of the NWOSU Museum of Natural History and from other gathered references. Emphasis will be placed on accurate description of animal bodies and natural environments, and topics of discussion will include historical animaliers and contemporary illustrators of natural subjects. Pre: ART 1403

ART 3173 Graphic Design I

This course focuses on skills and concepts central to digital illustration and design. Students will learn to use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop as tools for basic digital illustration and design techniques. Adobe InDesign will be utilized to format publications. Each student will have an opportunity to explore the formation of an individual style while still adhering to assignment goals. Students will engage in discussion of historical and contemporary digital illustration, graphic design, and sequential narrative art forms. Students will be presented with real-world assignments, bringing projects from conceptual sketches to completion.

ART 3323 Contemporary Visual Language: Aesthetics, Criticism, & New Media

This course covers contemporary art theory and practice within the context of our global society.  Discussions are based on critical literature and aesthetic philosophies of art. Artworks are analyzed based on influences of technology, global trends, and social conventions. Topics include the role of the modern museum, repatriation of stolen artifacts, and the preservation of new media art.

ART 3801 Junior Studio

This seminar continues the discussion of art criticism methods and cultivating an effective art practice. Instruction will address how to develop a consistent portfolio and how to create efficient and practical work habits. Students will present and provide feedback on their artwork to help refine their direction. The course may include discussions with guest artists and field trips to local and regional arts organizations and museums.   Pre: ART MAJOR

ART 4103 Painting II

This course is a continuation of the pictorial problems and material techniques of painting introduced in ART 3143, focusing on more complex and varied subject matter, media, and concepts. Greater emphasis is placed on the development of individualized approaches to materials and content. Drawing will be utilized as a tool for the immediate generation and organization of ideas for paintings. Course will include further discussion into the history of painting and the work of contemporary artists. Pre: ART 3143.

ART 4133 Drawing Comics & Graphic Novels

This is an intermediate course in drawing focusing on creating narratives with visual language in sequences of juxtaposed panels on single or multiple pages. Students will learn to communicate their content and idea via writing their own narrative material and drawing corresponding images. Students will be expected to submit each of their projects to local magazines and newspapers for publication consideration, as well as self-publishing their works via submission of a web-based comic and zine creation. Course will also include a historical study of comics in the U.S. as well as in Japan and Europe.

ART 4203 Photography II

In this course, students learn advanced photographic techniques and enhance their compositional eye. They will continue to develop skills in digital photography while also being introduced to alternative processes and non-traditional image capture. The course addresses the theories behind the photographic image and its ability to capture truth. Students will learn more advanced techniques in Adobe Photoshop. A digital camera is required. PRE: ART 2203

ART 4233 Printmaking II

This course continues to explore relief, intaglio, and screen-printing processes with more complex techniques. It also introduces lithography and photographic processes. Projects introduce advanced color techniques and consider ways to produce prints beyond the traditional edition, including collage and installation. Students work toward a self-directed body of work.  PRE:  ART 3133

ART 4253 Sculpture II

This course continues to explore materials and techniques for creating art in three dimensions. Projects incorporate more complex subject matter and introduce processes such as mold-making and kinetic sculpture. Students will learn conventions for professional installation and display. Students work toward a self-directed body of work.  PRE:  ART 3153

ART 4273 Graphic Design II

In this course, students learn more advanced digital illustration techniques as they solve more complex graphic design problems. Projects include both client-based assignments and designs from personal vision. Students are introduced to more aspects of Adobe CC as they incorporate motion into some elements of their designs. Projects include web design, copy layout, and personal branding.  PRE:  ART 3173

ART 4301 Senior Studio

This seminar explores how students can promote their personal artwork and build a network in the contemporary art community. It will discuss avenues for promotion and growth beyond school, contemporary currents in different art fields, and approaches to entering the job market or initiating a professional studio practice. The course may include discussions with guest artists and field trips to local and regional arts organizations and museums.   ART majors only.

ART 4323 Professional Practice & Gallery Administration

This course prepares students for entrance into the art-related job market. Projects include résumé writing, organizing a traditional and digital portfolio, and designing a website of personal work. Additionally, the course covers all facets of gallery operations. Students will experience exhibition curation, gallery management, arts administration, and artwork handling.

ART 4703 Advanced Studio / Senior Exhibition

In this course, students develop a concise, professional portfolio of work to be presented for exhibition. Students work collaboratively to prepare a professional quality exhibition of their capstone portfolios and create all requisite advertising and ephemera for that exhibition. Assessment includes critiques of each student’s body of work throughout the semester.  PRE: ART MAJOR/MINOR

ART 4900 Special Topics

A course concentrating on a special topic.

HUM 2433 Art in Life

This course analyzes the evolution of cultures as they developed and were expressed in art starting with ancient and medieval societies, the Renaissance period until concluding with an assessment of the post-modernist aesthetics of today.


Thomas A.D. Cornell
Assistant Professor of Art
Director of the Museum of Natural History 

MFA  |University of Notre Dame
BFA  | (Sculpture) University of North Carolina at Charlotte
BSBA  | (Management) University of North Carolina at Charlotte
AA | (Liberal Arts) Central Piedmont Community College

Courses Taught
3D Fundamentals, ,2D Fundamentals, Fundamentals of Drawing, Professional Practices, Painting I, Painting II,  Visual Arts Major Seminar, Figure Drawing, Advanced Studio, Senior Exhibition, Professional Practices and Gallery Administration



David Poindexter
Associate Professor of Fine Arts

MFA | Florida State University
BFA | Kansas City Art Institute
BA | University of Missouri-Columbia

Courses Taught
Art in Life, Fundamentals of Two-Dimensional Art, Fundamentals of Drawing, Photography I & II, Graphic Design I & II, Printmaking I & II


Student Opportunities

Student Exhibition Opportunities
NWOSU Visual Arts Students are provided with opportunities to exhibit artwork on campus, at the Graceful Arts Gallery and Studio, the historic Runnymede, and other supportive businesses in the heart of Alva’s downtown. Alva’s First Friday Artwalk is a monthly arts festival full of artwork, music and food.

Career Opportunities
Skills cultivated as in visual arts courses prepare students for advanced study in the visual arts and for entry into professional artistic employment. Possible career paths and advanced study include: visual artist (areas include commercial art, public art, community art, art activism, digital media, art restoration, studio assistant), art education (grade school/high school art teacher), graphic design (illustration/digital illustration, publication layout, web design), commercial photography, arts administration, gallery assistant/curator, and more.visual artist, art education (grade school/high school art teacher), art therapy, graphic design, illustration/digital illustration, arts administration, gallery assistant/curator, and more. 

Student Learning Outcomes

SLO 1 | Refinement of Observational Skills
Students will demonstrate nuance and sensitivity to detail in their responses to complex problems and issues.

SLO 2 | Cultivation of Ideas
Students will analyze and synthesize visual information and research from a variety of sources for use as subject matter and conceptual content in their art practice. This will culminate in an original body of work which exhibits an individual style and vision. 

SLO 3 | Development of Skill and Process
Students will demonstrate facility in a variety of media and methodologies and will have sufficient mastery of one or more media to complete the technical, formal, and conceptual challenges of a proficient, sustained studio practice. 

SLO 4 | Communication of Ideas and Context
Students will communicate the content and context of their work visually, orally, and in writing. Additionally, students will effectively communicate their interpretation of the work of other artists.

SLO 5 | Development of Work Ethic
Students will work independently and collaboratively to achieve stated goals and to maintain rigorous studio practice and research. By fostering behaviors such as curiosity, initiative, and persistence, students will engage with the art community and contemporary culture in productive and dynamic ways.

SLO 6 | Engagement with Art History and Contemporary Art
Students will demonstrate a foundational understanding of art history through such activities as engaging with contemporary art and artists, attending galleries and museum events, and interacting with the NWOSU Artist-in-Residence program. Students will learn to think critically and imaginatively about their work in a greater context.



Artist-in-Residence Program

The NWOSU Artist-in-Residency Program brings emerging and established artists from diverse backgrounds and practices to live and create artwork at NWOSU. The AIRs work alongside students, provide lectures and workshops on campus and in the community, and exhibit artwork in a culminating show. Students see firsthand what it takes to be a professional artist and receive invaluable feedback on their work.

For more information on the NWOSU Artist-in-Residence Program, go to: NWOSU Artist-in-Residence

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709 Oklahoma Blvd., Alva, OK 73717
Phone: (580) 327-1700

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