Students of University of Wisconsin–Stout can now major in Studio Art with a concentration in Photography. Fresh out of the package is a Photography concentration for students to expand their education and broaden their job prospects within the field.
When a student decides to concentrate in Photography, they will be taking the standard Studio Art BFA requirements along with the same courses required in the current Photography minor. However, there is an additional new course, ART 375 Art Photo Studio, “Which is repeatable five times,” explained Geoffrey Wheeler, the new Program Director for Studio Art Photography. “It focuses on conceptual and technical issues in fine arts photography, including media exploration and image creation for expressive and critically driven work,” explained Professor Amy Fichter.
Amy Fichter, referred to by Wheeler as the “driving force” behind the new concentration, explained that her passion arose from the “Many prospective students [inquiring] about a major in photography and [their expectation that the major] be taught from a fine arts perspective within the School of Art & Design.” Fichter explained that a photography major is commonly offered at many other colleges and universities, including regional competitors such as Minneapolis College of Art & Design, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin–Madison and Iowa State University.
Fichter found that a large motivational piece, for her, was the increase in competence for the school. “The concentration will make us more competitive with departments and schools of art and design in the region and create enrollment growth in the Studio Art major,” she said. The added concentration may attract more students and solidify the decisions of those interested in UW–Stout.
Implementing this opportunity had taken several years, which can come as a surprise considering Photography is a standard art major and/or concentration offered at many universities across the country. What many do not realize, Wheeler explained, is the Photography minor at UW–Stout is a actually part of the Communications Technologies Department. The process of developing the concentration in the Studio Art department had to be extended due to the interdepartmental coordination required to make it officially happen.
Wheeler explained that the process required “Concerted interest and coordination between the SOAD and Communications Technologies with support and enthusiasm from Dean Alm.” Fichter went into a bit more detail, as she worked with many individuals to determine what would be required of students for the new concentration. Fichter and those she worked with wanted to be sure that the curriculum contained the same strong foundation in the studio art core courses, “taking almost all the same foundation and level one courses as the other studio art majors do, as well as the same field experience, Aesthetics course and Senior Seminar Studio course where they learn professional practices in the fine arts industry,” elaborated Fisher.
Fichter explained that courses from the Photography and Video minor were incorporated into the new major as well to ensure optimal technical ability. Wheeler emphasized that the most important aspect of the new program is the new course, ART 375: Art Photography Studio. This is the first Photography course taught from the artist’s perspective offered at UW–Stout. “[The course] focuses on conceptual and technical issues in fine arts photography,” said Fichter.
In her words, students in this class will work with “media exploration and image creation for expressive and critically-driven work.” She also noted that a darkroom is being built to be ready in Spring 2018. Wheeler also mentioned that many students who are currently minoring in Photography at UW–Stout will be able to switch to the new concentration, which is quite an opportunity for students with this interest.
UW–Stout makes many efforts to provide a large selection of majors for attending students to choose from. The university works to provide for more specific majors and courses to truly tailor programs for all students’ needs to help them prepare for their future careers. Photography was a little piece of the puzzle that is now found, which Fichter expressed, “Photography is a powerful medium and, until now, was missing from our array of concentrations in the School of Art & Design.”