The Visual Studies concentration at Eugene Lang College offers a distinctive approach to the study of the history and theory of art (including painting, photography, film, new media, performance) as well as the broader terrain of visual culture (including digital technologies, television, sound and popular culture). Starting with the analysis of the work of art as a distinct form––including its historical and cultural contexts, modes of production, and complex material realizations––it opens up onto considerations of economic, social, gender, and political issues. Addressing not just form and style of cultural objects, the program further emphasizes how images are impacted by socio-cultural and political circumstances across diverse cultures, geographic areas, and historical periods. Consistent with other concentrations within the department of Arts, the Visual Studies curriculum couples intensive seminars crafted specifically for the Lang concentration, with integrative arts courses that emphasize the contemporary shift towards interdisciplinary and non-traditional mediums, including performance, installation, audiovisual work, and video, screen, and digital forms. In addition, it stresses the shared conceptual and theoretical language of different artistic disciplines.
Students have considerable flexibility in designing a program of study that follows their individual interests. Taking full advantage of its location in a liberal arts college and in proximity to a major art school, the concentration supplements specialized courses in the history and theory of visual culture with relevant classes in cultural and visual studies from other Lang departments; as well as those from the New School for Public Engagement and Parsons. Students majoring in Visual Studies are also able to partner their historical and theoretical study with studio classes selected from a broad range of courses in all media (i.e. drawing, painting, photography, digital platforms, graphic design) offered through Parsons. Qualified students can also be admitted through the BAFA (dual BA/BFA degree) program in partnership with Parsons. In curatorial studies seminars in the Arts department, the study of curating and the curatorial process leads to a co-curated exhibition on the Lang campus.
There are no set areas of study within the Visual Studies track; rather students craft a program based upon their specific interests. Among the possible concentrations are: modern and contemporary art; curatorial and museum studies; performance and new media; and global visual studies. As the program grows and continues to hone its commitment to current scholarship and a changing world, the concentration is increasingly devoted to providing students with an understanding of the dominant role that images (and the visual field more broadly) play in technologically oriented, global culture Literacy in reading images, theories of representation, and the visual field are increasingly fundamental skills for negotiating a complex visual world and becoming a critical thinker and active citizen: aspects that reflect the College and University's larger commitments to social justice, sustainability, and political engagement.
Lang's location in Greenwich Village offers students easy access to the wealth of museums and other cultural institutions throughout New York City, as well as the major art gallery center in West Chelsea. Through partnerships with cultural institutions (including the Guggenheim Museum and the Rubin Museum) students are given unique access to the inner workings of institutions and the varied collections contained within. Lang majors have pursued internships with major museums (including the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, to name a few) and art galleries; art studios; photography studios; film companies; and auction houses. Through these internships, students gain hands-on practical and professional experience that often leads to graduate study in a specialized field, or post-graduate employment