The Department of Art, Art History, and Design offers courses that give students the ability to be visually analytical, to approach problems in non-routine ways using analogy and metaphor, and to heed critical feedback to revise and improve an idea. The listing below provides a brief overview of course offerings. Please look at the art department's complete list of courses through PATH Class Search.

Studio art and design requirements

ARST 10100: 2D Foundations

The fundamentals of two-dimensional design consist of the strategies and tools an artist or designer uses to organize visual images, colors, and content into a unified and dynamic composition. Students will identify design strategies and visual vocabularies, research the history of their usage and recognize their contemporary applications. Through project-based work using traditional and digital mediums and techniques, students will explore contemporary approaches to idea conception, critical thinking, and problem solving. 2D Foundations is for students entering the art and design programs to provide the foundation of personal creative practices for visual communication, conceptualization, process and technique that will continue to evolve and refine in upper level studio and design courses.

ARST 10201: Drawing I

This course deals with form depiction in its many aspects and modes and is intended for beginning students as well as advanced students who need additional experience in drawing.

ARST 10601: 3D Foundations

The fundamentals of three-dimensional design consist of the strategies and tools an artist or designer uses to generate ideas for and execution of form in space. Through research, conceptualization, and production students discover the power of making sculptural objects—how they function or change function, how they make a viewer move through and engage a space, and how they transform ordinary objects into the extraordinary and transform perception and environment. Students will create projects using a variety of traditional and contemporary sculptural mediums, techniques, and tools and be exposed to industrial applications and visual vocabularies. 3D Foundations is for students entering the art and design program to provide the foundation of personal creative practices for visual communication, conceptualization, process, and technique that will continue to evolve and refine in upper-level studio and design courses.

Course highlights

ARHI 13182: USEM Fine Arts: Art History: Looking at Objects and Artworks

University seminars will address a variety of topics in the history of art depending on the interests of the professor. These courses require several short papers as well as a final written exercise appropriate to the material.

ARHI 20540: Rome: The Eternal City

In this class, we will explore the urban topography of the city of Rome from the first century BC to the year 2000 AD, or roughly the period from the emperor Augustus to the projects by Richard Meier, Zaha Hadid, and others to celebrate the Jubilee at the end of the second millennium. In our discussion of how buildings shape and are shaped to form the city, we will consider contemporary drawings, prints, texts, maps, and a range of other evidence. Special focus will be placed on critical strategies for understanding urban sites. In addition to the city of Rome, this course will focus on developing your skills as critical readers and writers.

ARHI 30480: Into to 20th Century Art

This survey course will introduce students to major developments in 20th-century art, primarily in Europe and the Americas. Emphasis will be placed on modernist and avant-garde practices and their tenets. The first half of the course will trace Modernism’s unfolding in the avant-garde practices of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The second half of the course will address art production as the neo-avant-garde attempted to construct continuity and repetitions of the heroic modernist legacies of the past. We will consider issues such as the self-criticism of art, the myth of the artist-genius, the reign of abstraction, spirituality in art, race and gender, art and class, and art’s intersections with mass culture. Artists we will study include Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Jacob Lawrence, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol. This course is a lecture format and grading is largely exam-based. The curriculum will also include visits to the university museum.

ARST 20101: Ceramics I

This course examines basic techniques of wheel-thrown and hand-built clay structures for sculpture and pottery.

ARST 30102: Ceramics II

The primary objective of this course is to involve you in an ongoing ceramic studio workshop experience on an advanced level. To be in the Ceramics II studio workshop students must have had ceramics I, or equivalent experience from high school ceramics classes. Students are expected to choose a direction of work and evolve their ability and success through the course of the semester. In addition, clay making, glaze testing and formulation and kiln loading and firing will be introduced during the semester. Students will learn to be independent in a ceramic studio at the end of the class.

ARST 30101: Multilevel Ceramics

In this multi-level class, you will become involved with the creative process of art through the medium of clay. Beginning and advanced techniques will be explored as you learn to produce pottery and sculptural forms in a variety of methods including hand-building and wheel throwing. A basic understanding of clay and glaze composition along with firing methods will also be addressed. The goal of this course is for you to become familiar with the elements of art and the principles of design, to use these consciously in an attempt to refine your aesthetic sensibilities, and further your understanding of art. The major benefit in taking our summer course lies in the intensive nature of its structure. Meeting four days in a row each week for seven weeks affords a momentum and focus not easily realized in regular semesters. Tools, clay & glazes are included in the lab fee.

ARST 20301: Painting I

This course is an introduction to oil painting techniques and to stretcher and canvas preparation. The emphasis is on finding a personal direction.

ARST 40307: Multilevel Painting

Painting is one of the most direct means of visual expression that contemporary artists employ to articulate their concerns. This course extends and develops the skills and concepts initiated in Painting 1. Students are engaged in projects that allow them to hone their technical skills while they define and develop their individual concerns as well as the formal means through which to communicate them.

ARST 40203: Multilevel Figure Drawing

The emphasis is on drawing in all its aspects: materials, methods, techniques, composition, design, and personal expression. The human figure is the subject matter. While anatomy is studied, the course is not an anatomy class. Male and female models, clothed and nude, are used.

ARST 20401: Photography I

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of still photography. It is designed for all students interested in developing their photographic skills and also serves as the entry-level sequence for the photo major in studio art. The course is based on the use of digital cameras. Adobe Lightroom software and professional quality inkjet printing. Creative assignments introduce students to various thematic approaches including documentary work and portraits. Presentations cover both historical and contemporary approaches to the medium. A digital SLR camera with manual controls is highly recommended, or students may check out departmental cameras to complete assignments. A portable hard drive compatible with the Apple OS platform is required for storing personal files.

ARST 30405: Photography II: Digital Workshop

This is a level II course in the photography sequence and builds upon the experiences gained in Photography I. Digital constructions, Photoshop software techniques, studio lighting and time-based projects are explored. Presentations, assignments and critiques promote visual and technical skill building, helping students continue defining their creative interest and technical expertise. A digital SLR with manual focus and exposure controls is required; or, students may check out departmental cameras to complete assignments A portable hard drive compatible with the Apple OS platform is required for storing personal files. Course is taught on the Apple OS platform.

ARST 30110: Experiments in Narrative

This course will explore the narrative potential of photographic media as well as the role of sequencing in the creative process. Projects will use both still photography and video as vehicles for storytelling and conceptual expression. Students will gain competency in image and video editing software and techniques while taking inspiration from cinema, video art, and photography. A combination of production, critique, and readings will advance student understandings of narrative structure and experimental approaches to time-based media.

ARST 20502: Printmaking 101

This introductory course, open to non-majors and majors, will survey a variety of basic traditional and contemporary printmaking techniques including relief, lithography, etching, and silkscreen. Through media focused assignments infused with demonstrations, lectures, and readings, students will be able to critically understand how printmaking can function as a relevant voice in the context of the modern world.

ARST 20501: Silkscreen I

This course is an introduction to stencil processes and printing. Hand-drawn and photographic stencil-making techniques are explored. Mono-printing and discovery of unique aspects of serigraphy are encouraged. Emphasis is on exploration of color and development of students' ideas and methodologies.

ARST 20602: Wood Sculpture

This course uses wood as a primary medium. Emphasis is placed on individual concept and design. Students learn the use of hand and power tools as well as techniques of joining, laminating, fabricating, and carving.

ARST 20603: Metal Foundry

The course focuses on work in cast aluminum and cast bronze sculptures. Students learn basic welding techniques using oxygen and acetylene, arc and heliarc welding. Mold making, work in wax, and metal finishing techniques are also explored.

ARST 20604: Metal Sculpture I

Metal is the medium of choice in this course designed to explore three-dimensional design with a variety of projects grounded in historical precedents. Students become familiar with as many metalworking techniques as time and safety allow, such as gas and arc welding, basic forge work, and several methods of piercing, cutting and alternative joinery.

DESN 20101: VCD 1: Fundamentals of Design

Fundamentals of Design is a gateway course for Visual Communication Design that introduces students to basic design elements like color, form, composition and typography. This course explores and helps develop an understanding of the delicate balance between these design elements and how they have been skillfully used over time to create some of the most persuasive images and enduring messages. The course is an exercise in deconstruction and reconstruction of visual images using design elements as tools. Through assignments, students will work digitally to explore color, form, composition, texture and typography; first individually and then in conjunction with other elements. Initial assignments will be short and will focus on the understanding of a singular element. As the course progresses, students will be expected to use experiences from these short assignments and use them as building block for more complex projects. Above all, the course builds a vigorous foundation that allows students to acquire visual skillsets that serve as a firm foundation for advanced level courses in Visual Communication Design.

DESN 20120 VCD 3: Digital Media Design

This course explores the application of design principles and methods in digital media. The course will look at time-based experiential design in the context of web-enabled media including web, mobile, social, motion, and emerging digital contexts such as augmented reality. Students will gain a deeper understanding of design processes, digital design principles, time-based design principles, and current design/prototyping tools. This studio-based design course is structured around hands-on exercises that guide students through the design process and introduce them to the broad landscape of digital media design.

DESN 30140 VCD 7: Interaction Design

This studio course focuses on the design of interactive products and the context of their use in larger systems. The course will explore methods and principles for planning, researching, and designing user-centered interactive products such as, but not limited to, mobile apps. Students will gain a deeper understanding of design research methodologies, the potential of connected technologies (IoT) and Big Data, prototyping for mobile and small screens, and the effective presentation of interactive design interventions. This studio-based course is structured around projects and exercises that guide students to better understand complex human problems and how interaction design might be used to turn existing experiences into preferred.

DESN 20200 ID: Rapid Ideation & Visualization (previously Rapid Visualization)

Rapid Visualization is a cross-disciplinary course in contemporary illustration and rendering techniques that serve studio art, design, engineering, marketing, and architecture. A gateway course for the Industrial Design major, it introduces students to the techniques and methodologies for designing products, gear, furnishings, packaging, and spaces. Through collaborative brainstorming, class discussion, and critique, students develop a vocabulary and critical framework for describing a product’s formal attributes, materiality, and market positioning. The course is intended for students entering studio practice for the first time as well as for advanced students who wish to deepen their visualization and illustration skills.

DESN 20203: Design Matters: Introduction to Design Thinking

Design thinking has emerged as a powerful methodology to catalyze breakthrough innovation for an array of complex business, social and humanitarian challenges. Business and industry have embraced design thinking as one of the most potent drivers of innovation, growth and prosperity for its’ deeply human-centered approach to problem solving. During this fast paced, hybrid, hands-on journey through the design thinking process, students will immerse themselves in a series of overlapping modules that introduce the various phases in the design thinking process and familiarize students with the tools and techniques. This course will unleash your creativity and ingenuity in addressing problems through a human centered framework and mindset, applying this methodology to a vast array of human-centered problems, and complementing disciplines from science and engineering to business and the liberal arts. This course fulfills a Core Curriculum Liberal Arts 4 Way of Knowing (Arts) as well as the gateway to the Collaborative Innovation minor and cross-listed with other minors including: Sustainability, Computing & Digital Technologies, Education, Schooling & Society, Entrepreneurship and Anthropology.

DESN 30210: Design Research: From Insight to Innovation (previously Design Research Practices)

Research for Impact is an engaging and dynamic course that investigates wicked problems through creative research methods that provide insights and opportunities for project stakeholders to produce lasting change. Students are equipped with essential quantitative and qualitative research skills and methodologies, empowering them to explore, analyze, and help confront complex design challenges. Students will craft inventive research toolkits, which they will utilize in real-world scenarios to uncover deep needs and foster opportunities for a more inclusive design and research process.

Ways of Knowing University Courses (Core Art & Literature - WKAL)

The ways of knowing approach reflects our belief that students who have a wide range of intellectual capacities are better equipped to make a difference in the world. Each of these ways of knowing represents an important modality for approaching, analyzing, and understanding different aspects of our lives and our world. Each way of knowing forms a complementary part of the larger whole, bringing individual students closer to attaining the intellectual capacities and practices that fulfill the overall goals of a Notre Dame education.

Below is a list of art department course offerings that fulfill the ways of knowing University requirements.

Art History

  • ARHI 13182: USEM Fine Arts: Art History: Looking at Objects and Artworks
  • ARHI 13182: USEM Fine Arts: Critical Moments in Classical Art and Culture
  • ARHI 20211: History of Architecture I
  • ARHI 20540: Rome: The Eternal City
  • ARHI 30423: Global Modern Contemporary
  • ARHI 30375: Building Europe: 1600-1750
  • ARHI 30531: Art, Vision, and Difference
  • ARHI 40424: History of Christian Architect

Studio Art

  • ARST 10100: 2D Foundations
  • ARST 10201: Drawing I
  • ARST 10601: 3D Foundations
  • ARST 20101: Ceramics I
  • ARST 20301: Painting I
  • ARST 20303 Watercolor I
  • ARST 20401: Photography I
  • ARST 20502: Printmaking 101
  • ARST 20601: Sculpture I
  • ARST 20602: Wood Sculpture
  • ARST20603: Metal Foundry
  • ARST 20604: Metal Sculpture I


DESN 20101: VCD 1: Fundamentals of Design
DESN 20200: ID: Rapid Ideation and Visualization (previously Rapid Visualization)
DESN 20203: Design Matters: Intro to Design Thinking