Studio Art

Our supportive community offers tools and ecosystems helping students engage historical and contemporary criteria for making art. Innovative faculty help students refine approaches to being collaborators, thought-leaders, educators—and artists. Students have access to the DC area's internationally renowned museums and galleries, in addition to Katzen Arts Center and campus facilities. Flexible degree programs offer courses in sculpture, painting, video, photography, drawing, printmaking, expanded media, and special topics:
BA Studio Art  MFA Studio Art  BA Photography


Katzen Arts Center at nighttime

Katzen Arts Center Exhibitions

On view in the Katzen Arts Center rotunda.

September 11–October 17

Since 1990, Group 93 artists have shared an affiliation with American University and a dedication to the rigor of a critique method and discussion developed by artist and professor emeritus Luciano Penay. As individuals, they have shown their work at various venues throughout the United States and around the world. The artists have diverse professional backgrounds and individual approaches to visual language and have made a significant contribution to the Washington area art scene. This exhibition is a testament to their dedication.

Abstract swirling acrylic paint
Image: Joan Burnbaum, Untitled. Acrylic on canvas, 31 x 31 in. Courtesy of the artist. Featured in Group 93.

DC Museums & Galleries

Museum plaza in DC.

Beyond AU's Katzen Arts Center and other campus Arts Facilities, Washington, DC, offers an unsurpassed level of world class museums, most of which offer free admission and are within a 20 minute metrorail ride from our studio facilities. From the Phillips Collection (which was America's first museum of Modern Art and the place where American University's Art programs emerged more than a century ago) to the East and West buildings of National Gallery of Art; From the Hirshhorn and the National Museum of African Art to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, these amazing institutions act as a vital component of our students' experience in Washington, DC.  The American University Museum at the Katzen Center has become one of the leading museums of contemporary art in the region. Additionally there are many thriving spaces and fellowship opportunities for emerging artists.

Erika Ranee, "Good Egg," 2021. Acrylic, shellac, oil stick, spray paint, and paper collage on canvas. 60 x 60 in.

Visiting Artists Series: Erika Ranee
November 17, 6:00 p.m. | Katzen 201

American University's Studio Art MFA program presents visiting artist Erika Ranee. Ranee has exhibited her multilayered abstract paintings nationally and internationally. She says, "Like pages from a journal, each artwork is an exercise in pushing paint around to articulate a time capsule on canvas."

Register for Ranee

Mina Cheon (Kim Il Soon), Umma Rises: Towards Global Peace, 2017.

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Community as a Work of Art

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Spotlight

Shiloah Symone Coley

MFA Studio ArtShiloah Symone Coley with her art.

Both inside and outside the art studio, Studio Art MFA Candidate Shiloah Symone Coley interrogates the existing stories we come to believe as truths about ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Shiloah believes community-engaged work is crucial in unpacking the different perspectives that contribute to the narratives of our society. By seeking to center the voices of her collaborators, her process explores what it means to have agency in telling your own story, and she has facilitated youth-led art projects in New York City, Madison, WI, and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Shiloah is currently a Sherman Fairchild Foundation Fellow at the Phillips Collection, working with its Community Engagement and Marketing-Communications departments to develop meaningful storytelling and programming with the DC community.

After graduation she wants to continue collaborating with the communities around her, while also maintaining a dedicated studio practice through a residency or fellowship alongside an educational institution or nonprofit. She says that being at AU has given her an opportunity to rigorously research and advance her practice.

When I arrived at American University, I was primarily a painter. Now I work in a much more anti-disciplinary collage fashion that's driven by the themes and motifs I'm engaging with conceptually. And at the Phillips, I've had the opportunity to see the inner workings of how an art institution operates. It's been an incredibly educational experience.