Bennington College was the first in the country to put the arts at the center of a liberal arts education, and one that has long embraced—for over 80 years—the idea that art can shape our way of thinking about everything, from aesthetics and philosophy and literature to mathematics and environmental activism and community development.
Taught by practicing professionals accomplished in their fields, Bennington’s visual arts program provides students with a firm grounding in the creative process. As students move from introductory to advanced courses, they develop their own techniques, methods of investigation, conceptual thinking, and understanding of what it means to be a creative practitioner. They are encouraged to explore opportunities across a broad range of media, while examining contemporary creative practice and its connections to the history of art.
The Helen Frankenthaler ’49 Visual Arts Center makes up half of Bennington’s 100,000+ square-foot creative complex, and houses expansive teaching studios, digital labs, workshops, and seminar spaces that support the program. It is an inspiring facility full of light and activity—open 24 hours a day. Students can be found there at all hours—creating new work in their studios, gathering for critiques, collaborating.
During Field Work Term, students work in a wide range of creative spaces including artists’ studios, galleries, non-profit art organizations, design firms, production houses, and many other internships that offer new perspectives and extraordinary work experiences. In their junior year, students are also eligible to apply for the College’s Museum Fellows Term, in which they spend five months living in New York City; gain professional work experience at a major cultural institution; visit exhibitions and study multiple aspects of the art world with Bennington faculty; and meet artists, curators, and other arts and culture leaders.
Students from the visual arts continue their work through graduate studies, set up studios, open galleries, become curators and begin their own practices.
At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of the College's resources both inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work.
At Bennington, students learn how to develop an artistic practice from faculty who are not only showing their work in museums and galleries around the globe, but also taking it outside those traditional spaces, creating new publics and new sites for encountering art.
Among the creative spaces in Bennington's 120,000-square-foot Visual and Performing Arts Center (VAPA) are labs and studios for ceramics, architecture, woodworking, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, digital arts, and more. The building is open to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Field Work Term
Every year, our students work in artists’ studios and fabrication shops, museums and galleries, cultural institutions, NGOs that fuse the arts with social justice work—anywhere their creative project pushes them.
- 100th Monkey Studio
- Acconci Studio
- American Museum of Natural History
- Borderbend Arts Collective
- Franklin Furnace
- Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture
- Institute of Contemporary Art
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- Loki Films
- Mocha: Museum of Children's Art
- normal arhitektura
- Paulson Bott Press
- Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
- Portland Museum of Art
- Salty Labs
- Sun Valley Film Festival
- SH0P Architects
- Terrafirma Ceramics
- The Denver Art Museum
- The Whitney Museum of American Art
- Tierra Del Sol
- Tom Sachs
- Umcebo Design
- Torpedo Factory Art Center, Target Gallery
As a student, you'll be building on the work of some of the most significant artists, curators, gallerist, art critics, and museum directors of the 20th and 21st centuries—people who share the ability to create entirely new and utterly transformative forms of seeing, thinking and feeling.