Last week, the fine-arts news website Art & Object named Southwestern University among the top 10 art schools in the Southwest. This distinction comes on the heels of the university’s rise to #2 among Impact Schools by the Princeton Review, as well as the recurrent honor of being featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges as among its “small colleges and universities strong in art or design,” with specific acknowledgement of fine-arts students producing graduate-level creative work. 

The ranking by Art & Object is part of an ongoing series to seek out the top-tier art programs in the U.S. and is determined by a range of criteria, including school reputation, tuition, scholarship opportunities, faculty expertise, student-body diversity, and postgraduation career help. The studio art program at the Sarofim School of Fine Arts is highlighted for having the largest percentage of Latinx students, at 29.4%, and for being well above the national average for post-graduate income.

Also underscored is Southwestern’s long-standing participation in the New York Arts Program, which provides students with opportunities to pursue semester-long apprenticeships in performing, visual, and communication arts. Last summer, studio art major Christine Gutierrez ’20  participated in an internship through the program with Valiant Entertainment, a major independent comic-book publishing company. “The New York Arts Program helped me to fully explore the world of comics and commercial art in ways I couldn’t from studio classes alone, and I was able to connect my Southwestern classes to the real world and experience the incredibly inspiring art environment of New York City,” she says. 

Christine Gutierrez ’20 in Central ParkChristine Gutierrez ’20 in Central Park

Professor of Art and Chair of Studio Art Victoria Star Varner says the designation is an incredible honor for the school. “It recognizes the efforts of our entire community of talented and accomplished artists and scholars (students and faculty alike), our ambitious alumni, our supportive Sarofim School of Fine Arts staff, our nationally recognized career services department, and the dedicated leadership of our administration and board,” she comments. “Given the current tumultuous global situation, it’s more important than ever that art programs everywhere enhance the nation’s understanding of this cultural moment in order that we might create new solutions for a shifting, fractured society. We appreciate the boost this honor will provide us as we engage in interdisciplinary investigations that lead to more ethical and meaningful cultural change.”

Art & Object is an online publication with a mission to inform art collectors and drive the conversation about art.