Art at UB

Work from a graduate student during open studios.

Our Mission

The Department of Art at the University at Buffalo is dedicated to developing the technical and conceptual attributes of students, preparing them for a life-long career in the professional world of art and design.

Each customized course of study provides the foundation for a creative practice that connects students to the City of Buffalo and to the global art community.

Our Faculty do not just teach the key principles of art and design needed to build creative careers, they model creative thinking, interdisciplinary research, and collaborative problem solving.

Our Students

Our student body represents a diverse cross-section of the nation and the world. As a small art and design school situated within one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive research universities, students get the best of both worlds. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to our mission at the Department of Art at the University at Buffalo. We pride ourselves on the ways our students engage with diverse communities around the world and within the city of Buffalo. Our goal is to promote a welcoming climate for all faculty, staff, students , and members of the university community. UB is the premier public research university in the northeastern United States and the largest and most comprehensive campus in the 64-campus SUNY system. According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), for more than 15 years we have ranked among the 20 best institutions in the United States for international students.

Our Faculty

Our faculty are nationally and internationally renowned for their research and teaching. They bring their commitment to creative problem solving, skill building, and innovation. As practicing artists, scholars, researchers, and activists, our faculty offer expert guidance in today’s creative fields. With a 13:1 student/faculty ratio, our faculty mentor students individually to help them discover their own creative voices and harness the culturally transformative power of art and design.

Faculty honors and distinctions include fellowships and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Warhol Foundation, the Fulbright Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Creative Capital Foundation, the Pollock Krasner, the MacDowell Colony, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Chalmers Arts Fellowship, the Aperture Foundation, the Zentrum Moderner Orient of Berlin, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Science Foundation, the Prix Ars Electronica, the FILE Prix Lux Art, the Vilcek Foundation, the MIT Council for the Arts, the Canada Council for the Arts and the TED Conferences LLC.

Our outstanding Department of Art Instructional and Administrative Staff are the backbone of our department. They serve our students, faculty, and the university community on a daily basis.

Our History

Since its founding in 1846 the University at Buffalo has been dedicated to pushing the boundaries of artistic practice and analysis.   

In 1971, Michel Foucault, one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century, left the University of Vincennes to teach philosophy and social theory at the University at Buffalo. At UB, he joined celebrated writer Leslie Fiedler, Dean of American Literary Critics; prize-winning poets Robert Creeley and Charles Olson; and experimental composer Morton Feldman — in short, the cutting edge.

In the years that followed, Buffalo continued to carry on this rich tradition of progressive scholarship with James Agee, Professor of American Culture, Affiliated Faculty of Visual Studies, who was a leading documentary photographer and progressive activist. Tony Conrad was an American avant-garde video artist, experimental filmmaker, musician, composer, sound artist, teacher, and writer. Conrad was active in a variety of media since the early 1960s, he was a pioneer of both structural film and drone music. Other influential Buffalo faculty have included Hollis Frampton, Steina and Woody Vasulka, Peter Weibel, James Blue, Cathy Steffan, and Gerald O'Grady.

Today the Department of Art features internationally recognized faculty in the fields of BioArt, Digital Arts, Graphic Design, Interactive Art, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Print Media, Robotics, Sculpture and Socially Engaged Art. Among our current faculty, we have three winners of the prestigious international VIDA Art and Artificial Life Award. Our faculty exhibit their work at the Museum of Modern Art, the Sundance Film Festival, Ars Electronica, Exit Art, and Transmediale, among many other galleries, museums, and festivals.

In 1993 the Department of Art transitioned from Bethune Hall on Main Street in Buffalo, to the custom-designed art labs and classrooms in the Center for the Arts ("CFA") on UB North Campus. The following year, the rest of the CFA opened, for its public facing events and gallery spaces.

The Department of Art currently offers MFA in Studio Art, BFA, and BA in Art or Art History degrees, as well as Art and Art History Minors.

Our PhD program and MA in Visual Studies are not active at this time.

Our Impact

Our programs prepare students to meet the challenges and opportunities of cultural production, whether they are interested in pursuing a professional studio practice, entering the job market in the cultural sector, or pursuing a career in academia. 

Our recent alumni have been hired as tenure-track faculty at Western Michigan University, the Cleveland Institute of Art, Virginia Tech University, Herron School of Art–University of Indiana, Canisius College, Southeast Missouri State University, Oberlin College, New Jersey City University, Rowan University, University of Denver, and Louisiana State University. 

Other recent MFA and MA job placements include: Curator at Cambridge Art Galleries in Canada, Art Gallery of the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, McGraw-Hill Publishing, Buffalo Art Studio, and Albright-Knox Art Gallery. 

Recent MFA Alumni have also shown their artwork in significant venues including: Monmouth Museum – Lincroft, NJ; Brooklyn Museum-Brooklyn, NY; Jenkins-Johnson Gallery – Chelsea, NY; Galleri Image—Århus, Denmark; Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WI; Detroit International Film/Video Festival; Chelsea Art Museum, NY; Institute for Electronic Arts—Beijing; China, SACI Gallery—Florence; Italy, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian; University of Stockholm, Sweden; Pera Museum, Istanbul; Kennedy Museum of Art, Ohio University;  Center for the Book, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA; Rochester Institute of Technology, NY; National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C.;  Mattress Factory Pittsburgh, PA.