Tufts recognized for fine and studio arts program

Courtesy The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

On Jan. 23, USA TODAY published an article ranking Tufts as the second best college offering a degree in fine or studio arts. The list, compiled by College Factual, also includes institutions such as the Pratt Institute, The New School and Yale University.

Tufts offers a studio art minor and a five-year dual degree program with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA). Students who participate in the dual degree program graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as well as a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from Tufts.

The university offers 33 studio art classes on the Medford/Somerville campus, including calligraphy, watercolor, printmaking and figure drawing, according to Patrick Carter, studio coordinator at Tufts. Off campus, students can choose from the 36 SMFA courses that can count toward both the studio art minor and the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Carter said.

Carter, who described Tufts’ recognition as a “beautiful surprise,” emphasized the openness of the university’s art program; students do not have to be participating in the studio art minor or the dual degree program to take these courses.

“We’re sensitive to the fact that some students have not had a studio course for a very long time … Some [students] will come with very little experience, and some will come with more, so there’s a range of students, [and] we want to accommodate that,” he said.

Julissa Zavala, a junior minoring in studio art, agreed with Carter, praising the art professors at Tufts for their encouraging style of teaching.

“I feel like [the professors] are really accepting of people who do not have [an artistic background] … The art professors here are very supportive,” she said.

However, some students contend that the program is not without its flaws. According to Allyson Blackburn, a sophomore participating in the dual degree program with a concentration in drawing and printmaking, the 10-semester program is costly, time consuming and lacks administrative support.

“I read [the USA TODAY] article and I thought it was a joke … I love my experience at Tufts and I love my experience at the SMFA, but being a dual degree student has not been easy,” she said.

Blackburn said that classes at the SMFA can run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., which can make scheduling classes difficult. It can also be hard to get to the SMFA via the shuttle, she added.

“Scheduling is really hard, and the commute [can be] long and unpredictable. For example, today the shuttle came to Tufts a half hour late and we got to the museum school a half hour late because of all the snow. Public transport is more reliable, but you have to pay for it,” Blackburn said.

Despite the program’s shortcomings, Blackburn is appreciative of the various resources available to Tufts students in the dual degree program.

“I’m really enjoying myself, and I think … it’s really great to have access to two different sets of resources and [different] people,” she said.