Art and Design


Art Majors (Studio Art, Graphic Design, Art Education, Art History)

sculpture smallCome visit us at Clarke and you will find great art and an incredible arts community.

The arts have a long and valued tradition at Clarke University. Art is central to the life and spirit of Clarke. That’s evident from the moment you enter our campus where Quigley Gallery occupies a prominent site in the Wahlert Atrium, and faculty and student artwork is on display campus-wide.

The art program has a strong regional reputation for excellence. We’re a large program at Clarke so you’ll have the best of two worlds, a small university but a large peer group in your major.

The Clarke University art and design, and art history faculty works as a team and respect each other’s diverse teaching approaches and expertise. They exhibit at the local, state, national and international venues and bring real-world experience as practicing artists into their classrooms. Process-oriented, studio-based classes give students a true feeling for working in the art world.

Clarke offers bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of fine arts (BFA) studio degrees. What is the difference in the studio degrees? The bachelor of arts degree requires 48 credits in art or about one-third of your course credits while at Clarke. With this option, students can double major or minor in a complementary area like communication or business, or complete K-12 art education certification. The bachelor of fine arts degree is a professional degree with over 60 credits in art. The BFA degree, whether in art or graphic design, prepares you to enter the professional workplace or graduate school.

You do not need to commit to a career path when you walk in the door. All art students take the same foundation or core classes in the first year. This gives you the opportunity to explore diverse media and art concepts. Exposure to these new ideas may open new doors or career paths. Your college art experience will be very different than high school. Imagine being surrounded by art students who all want to pursue a life in the arts – what a great community! A professional and critical atmosphere encourages students to extend their artistic involvement beyond studio exercises into juried exhibitions, internships, independent study and travel.

Art Facilities


Clarke offers a comprehensive undergraduate program in studio art including coursework in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture and ceramics. Students choose a studio emphasis in one of these areas so as to develop both a technical expertise and personal creative vocabulary. Each area has a dedicated studio and that is open for student outside of class sessions. Life-long friendships are forged as students spend many late nights working on projects in studios. 

The studio art faculty members, Jessie Rebik, Jessica Teckemeyer and Louise Kames, maintain an active personal studio practice and exhibit work widely across the United States and beyond. Students can be assured of receiving current and innovative content with up-to-date pedagogy. Each studio area features an advanced sequence of five courses in the BFA degree. The art department has a long tradition of personal engagement with students and this means art faculty members will guide your creative development from the first drawing course though advanced study, exhibitions and career opportunities beyond Clarke. You will often work on-on-one with a professor in an advanced course so your instruction is individualized and rivals that of an art or graduate school program. All faculty members go out of their way to foster creative and professional growth among students, in and out of the studio classroom.

Graphic design students at Clarke University have the unique opportunity to leverage the strength of our liberal arts mission through the exploration of traditional studio techniques and media, digital production and editing software, and a strong contextual and art historical framework within the department. This is a career-oriented program where students develop skills and knowledge of studio art as well as graphic design. The ability to create an original concept through one’s technical abilities in drawing, sculpture, printmaking and design provides adaptive skills to solve complex visual communication problems. Students are trained to have a deep appreciation and knowledge of the arts, and understand the contributions artists and designers make to contemporary culture.

The graphic design program prepares Clarke students through progressive skill development and design experiences. Designers combine traditional and digital media to convey meaning through the organization of text and image; and to visually communicate their ideas for a variety of service related and social design challenges.
The design program prepares students to enter the workforce with skills reflective of the diverse opportunities available in the field of graphic design today. Both the introductory and advanced levels of design courses closely mirror professional practice. Students are also engaged in a variety of design competitions and opportunities outside of the classroom that expose them to “real world” design challenges. Clarke graphic design students have consistently received the greatest number of annual student awards (Addys) from Dubuque’s Advertising Club. Additionally, the Dubuque Advertising Club has awarded their prestigious annual scholarship to a Clarke graphic design student in 10 of the past 11 years. 
Students completing the BFA degree in graphic design are required to complete an internship for academic credit. Many students complete two internships. Our students are in high demand and this testifies to the quality of the graphic design program. Several graphic design internships led to post-graduation full time positions in the past two years.
Moreover, the strongest indicator of a quality professional program such as graphic design is the job placement of its alumni. Nearly all graduates of the past five years have found immediate employment in their field. Clarke graphic design alums are employed in large marketing firms and publishing houses, and as in-house designers, working both in industry and for non-profits. Equally diverse is the work they produce, ranging from print to web design and social media.

Students interested in teaching art at the elementary, middle or secondary school level major in art and take a sequence of education courses leading to K-12 Certification in Art. Clarke’s Education Department is well known for its Professional Development School program where many education courses are taught on-site at local elementary, middle and high schools in Dubuque. The art methods courses follow this model and are taught at Prescott Elementary, Dubuque’s downtown arts magnet school, and at Stephen Hempstead High School. This teaching environment provides students with greater immersion in the elementary and secondary art classroom. 
Clarke’s art history offerings and required coursework is distinctive when compared to regional liberal arts colleges. Clarke is one of few liberal arts colleges in the region to offer a BA degree in art history. The art history course offerings are comprehensive, including both Western and non-Western cultures. BFA studio degree students complete 18-credit-hours in art history. This expands their art knowledge base and hones critical thinking, seeing and writing skills. These are marketable strengths students can highlight when applying for graduate programs or professional positions. 
Students who graduate with a minor or bachelor of arts degree in art history are uniquely qualified for entry-level museum jobs and for further graduate study in academic areas such as art history, museum studies and law.
  • Support Clarke - Spring
  • Arts at Clarke 2016
  • Transfer Fall 2015