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The University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts

About the School of Art & Visual Studies

Welcome to the University of Kentucky's School of Art and Visual Studies!

In very few places in any college or university are incoming freshmen expected to conduct original research. Yet from day one freshmen entering our studios and classrooms are asked to perform as researchers, as independent artists, and as scholars. We require our majors to create new things, to produce new ideas, to learn to look at the world in new ways, and to think critically about what they and others have done within their respective fields of discovery. Our students must learn to take criticism, to see what they have done as others see it, and to respond creatively. Students must learn to push past what they already know, do, and think, to seek within themselves new creative and intellectual frontiers. The skills students acquire at UK SA/VS have value far beyond the professional fields of art history, art education or studio art. The common task of our exceptional faculty is not only to develop artists, or art historians or art educators. We work to foster the creativity that lies within every person who passes through our doors. Whatever our students go on to do in life, we want them to possess the intellectual flexibility, the self-consciousness, creativity and critical skills to do what they do better.

Robert Jensen
Director, School of Art and Visual Studies

The University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Visit the NASAD website for more information about accreditation.

Mission Statement

The primary mission of the School of Art and Visual Studies at the University of Kentucky is to link the study of art and visual culture to the broad aims of the University’s undergraduate liberal arts tradition by providing world-class instruction in the history, theory, and practice of art. To this basic mission we add opportunities for advanced study through undergraduate professional programs and graduate instruction. We aim to educate all of our students not just to be competitive in arts-related careers as professional artists, educators, and scholars, but also to prepare them for future challenges in fields outside the arts; and to foster their future endeavors as audiences and patrons of the arts. Through our own research and service we maintain SA/VS’s long and distinguished tradition of contributing to the cultural matrix of the Commonwealth. As researchers and creative individuals we strive to advance the frontiers of knowledge in our respective disciplines, achieving and maintaining recognition at the regional, national, and international levels. We serve the campus and wider community by bringing what we have learned home to Kentucky, through professional exhibitions and by sharing our knowledge and experiences as contributors to the local and regional arts landscapes. 

About Lexington

Lexington has a thriving arts scene, including a monthly Gallery Hop that features 20 established galleries and five or more emerging, contemporary spaces. Lexington is also home to the nationally acclaimed 21C Museum Hotel chain. 21C boasts an ever changing international contemporary art collection, fine dining, and a boutique hotel, and is in walking distance from the University.  

The Lexington Art League, a non-profit organization that began as a collective over 50 years ago, manages the Loudon House, a beautiful mansion converted into gallery spaces and artist studios where it hosts annual nationally curated shows and 4th Friday events. LexArts, a state- and city-funded public arts organization, also hosts theater events in its Downtown Arts Center; exhibitions, music and dance at its Mill Street Gallery, and presents Lexington's Gallery Hop.

Lexington also hosts the annual PRHBTN, an event featuring marginalized and street art that has attracted a number of internationally-recognized mural artists who have left behind permanent public works, raising Lexington's profile and engaging the larger community.

As for the music and bar scene, Lexington has five major craft breweries, many top flight four star restaurants (thanks to the Thoroughbred industry), exquisite countryside wineries (one recognized by the James Beard Association for its excellence), a healthy assortment of dive bars and music joints, as well as larger contemporary concert venues for touring bands. There is also Rupp Arena, home to the NCAA Champion UK Wildcats basketball team; but also a home for the major national touring acts. A free downtown concert series on Thursday nights, multiple farmers markets in locations around town, and local recreational sports clubs ranging from roller derby to bike polo....there is more going on in Lexington than you can possibly do! But of course, you should be in your studio making art, not out on the town!

Simply put, all the above plus Lexington's size and safety make it one of the best college towns in the United States. It is a fantastic place to call home!