Arts & Letters

Enhance the ability of students to think critically and creatively


The Arts & Letters Department houses three general areas: Visual Arts, Writing and Literature, and Interdisciplinary Arts & Letters.  Students at Prescott College may pursue BFA or BA degrees in Visual Arts, Creative Writing or Interdisciplinary Arts & Letters. Or they may pursue BA Competences that emphasize particular areas of interest such as Studio Arts or Photography.  Some students, working closely with advisors and mentors, design individual competence tracks that allow them to combine their studies of painting, photography, writing or dance with their studies of nature, social justice, or adventure education. Several have graduated with individually created competence titles such as Nature Writing, Travel Writing, Photojournalism, Environmental Art, and Nature and Dance.  All students working toward degrees housed in the Arts & Letters Department engage in courses focused on rigorous, hands-on acquisition and application of skills and theory in the following general areas:

Visual Arts

The Visual Arts at Prescott College offers a BFA in Visual Art, and BA Competences in the following areas of study: Studio Arts (Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Printmaking, and Public Art), Integrative Photographic Studies (Digital and Analog Image Making, Video and New Media), and Visual Studies (Critical Theory and Practice). We provide an environment where students transform ideas and concepts into objects and visual experiences. Through a curriculum designed to introduce the importance, impact and influence of visual arts on the individual and society, students receive hands-on instruction in a variety of media, while developing a critical understanding of their art practice within contemporary visual culture. The faculty of artists in the Visual Arts Area endeavors to cultivate a sense of community through the common experience of the creative process and by sharing their professional experience with students. Our studio and field-based courses encourage students to refine creative thought and apply acquired knowledge and skill to the making of images, objects and experimental works. While our Practicum and Development courses provide students with professional experience in gallery and curatorial studies, preparing the student for careers in the arts after Prescott College.

Writing and Literature

Students at Prescott College may pursue a BFA in Creative Writing, or BA Competences in Writing and Literature or Creative Writing.  Within their BA competence areas, students may also designate an area of emphasis—such as Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, or Journalism.  In this hands-on, interdisciplinary area of study, students work with our faculty of published writers to hone their creative and critical writing skills. In creative writing workshops, students generate original poems, stories, and essays, and in addition to learning to give and receive constructive criticism, they learn to use feedback to polish their work. In literature courses, students explore both classic and contemporary American works as well as works from other cultures. All of our writing and literature courses encourage students to become careful readers and informed writers, able to effectively analyze and synthesize material, able to appreciate diversity, and able to engage in discourse with the wider world community. In practicum courses—courses in which students work on the staffs our award-winning national literary journal or regional newspaper, or serve the community through teaching assistantships or internships—students get professional experience in writing, editing, and teaching. These experiences allow students to further explore their passions, refine their skills, and apply their knowledge in preparation for future work and study.

Interdisciplinary Arts and Letters

Many students wish to emphasize Prescott College’s liberal arts mission by pursuing a broad-based competence or breadth in the Arts & Letters area rather than a more narrowly defined field of study. The Interdisciplinary Arts & Letters Program strongly encourages this approach. It allows students to make connections across disciplines, to deepen their appreciation of all the arts, and to learn the theory and techniques of more than one discipline. 

Students work in two of the following areas: Visual Arts, Writing and Literature, or Dance. Transfer students with substantial coursework in other areas such as language or theatre may apply that coursework to their degrees.

Publications, Awards, Exhibitions and Events

The centerpieces of Writing and Literature are the annual literary journal, Alligator Juniper, and the student newspaper, The Raven Review. Alligator Juniper is student-staffed and faculty-mentored, publishing nationally recognized poets, fiction and nonfiction writers, and Prescott College student contest winners in each category. The journal received the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Directors Prize for content in 2001, 2004, and 2008.

The Southwest Writers Series hosts nationally acclaimed and emerging writers for informal dialogues and workshops as well as formal readings. Guests have included Edward Abbey, Sherman Alexie, Christopher Buckley, Natalie Diaz, James Galvin, Joy Harjo, Barbara Kingsolver, Barry Lopez, Rick Moody, and Alberto Alvaro Rios. Students share their work through public readings and class-generated anthologies.

The Prescott College Art Gallery at Sam Hill Warehouse provides space for juried student and senior project exhibitions as well as exhibitions by artists of regional, national, and international reputation. Exhibitons have included work by Jay Dusard, Seth Fairwether, Ailie Schmeltz, Marc Anthony Polozzi, and Josh Almond.

The Dance area offers a variety of workshops and performances. Student performances include class showcases, production course projects, and senior projects.

Scholarships and Fellowships

The Frederick & Frances Sommer Fellowship each year assists the academic and artistic endeavors of a senior with a competence in any area of Arts & Letters by providing senior-year housing in the Sommer cabin. Located in a forested Prescott neighborhood, the cabin includes studio space and B&W darkroom. The Arts & Letters Writing and Literature Scholarship each year recognizes an outstanding student working toward a competence in the realm of writing and literature or an incoming student with the intention to pursue such a competence. The Dorothy Ruth Ellis Endowed Scholarship each year recognizes an outstanding student in writing, literature or journalism. To learn more about these scholarships, see Endowment Scholarships under Financial Aid.


Examples of Art History/Critical Theory Courses

  • Religion and Spirituality in the History of Art
  • Critical Concepts in Contemporary Art
  • Art on the Periphery

Examples of Dance Courses

  • Dance Improvisation
  • Dance and Transformation
  • Nature and Dance
  • Artist and Athlete
  • Creative Practice and Performance

Examples of Photographic Studies Courses

  • The New Darkroom
  • Digital Imaging
  • Basic Photo Exploration
  • Documentary Photography
  • Arts, Culture, and the Socially Engaged Practice
  • Introduction to Video
  • Video Art

Examples of Practicum Courses

  • Visual Arts Exhibition Practicum: Gallery Management
  • Visual Arts Professional Development Practicum
  • Public Art: Mural Painting
  • Public Art: Site-specific Sculpture
  •  Literary Journal Practicum (Alligator Juniper)
  • Newspaper Journalism (The Raven)
  • Choreography in the Community

Examples of Studio Arts Courses

  • The Art of Drawing: Contemporary Approaches to a Traditional Practice
  • Figure in Context:  Narrative Painting
  • Observations in Nature:  The Art of Scientific Illustration
  • Art and Activism
  • Printmaking
  • Form and Function: Sculpture in Theory and Practice
  • Glassblowing
  • Ceramics

Examples of Writing & Literature Courses

  • Sudden Fiction: Writing the Very Short Story
  • Introduction to Fiction
  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Poetry Workshop
  • Sense of Place
  • Nature’s Voice
  • Journalism
  • Voices from the American Mosaic
  • Holy Books
  • Voices from Latin American
  • Film & Literature: Elements of Desire
  • Film & Literature: Sense of Place


See All >

  • Emily Rolando

    Emily graduated with a B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in leadership and outdoor programming. She holds a minor in business. After ...    Learn more >

  • Wanda Peters 1980

    Do what you are passionate about, take the time to figure out what gives you the most joy and satisfaction, and do work that is in line with what ...    Learn more >

  • Josephine Arader

    Josephine Arader, no doubt, took inspiration from her father Graham's devotion to the art of the natural world. ...    Learn more >

  • Dillon Metcalfe (Kelly Megan Stack Scholarship Recipient)

    Kelly Megan Stack Scholar, Dillon Metcalfe finished high school in2004 and decided to take a break to examine his interests in and ...    Learn more >

  • David Meeks

    Several years ago David and his siblings visited the Prescott College Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies on the Gulf Coast of ...    Learn more >

Bookmark and Share