Why Art?

What is art and why should I study it?


Pottery students took shift all weeks tending to a their Anagama Kiln, located in the UAF Experimental Farm. On the night of Apr. 21, 2018, it was decided that the temperature was high enough for the pottery, and so the Anagama Kiln was sealed. | UAF Photo by Zayn Roohi

Artwork often serves as a powerful platform for raising awareness and fostering discourse on critical global issues, acting as a form of activism to stimulate change and draw attention to a broad spectrum of social, cultural, and political concerns. These encompass matters ranging from racial equality and gender identity to climate change and social justice. Art challenges the conventional boundaries of art spaces and audience engagement through experimentation with innovative mediums such as virtual reality, augmented reality, interactive installations, and internet-based art. It delves into the exploration of personal narratives, memories, and identities, including examining cultural heritage, individual experiences, and underrepresented perspectives, thus yielding a rich tapestry of diverse and inclusive expressions.

Furthermore, art embraces eco-friendly materials and delves into themes concerning nature, biodiversity loss, and the repercussions of human activity on the environment. Art exhibitions and installations are meticulously designed to catalyze conversations and inspire tangible action, often collaborating with professionals from various fields, including science, technology, and literature.




As an art major, you can select from several concentrations and areas of study:



We offer studio art courses in these areas as well as foundation art courses and Art History courses.




What can you do with a degree in art?


A degree in art teaches someone so much more than the skill of mastering a visual medium. It opens up avenues of thought that allow seemingly unrelated connections to form and provide innovative solutions to complex problems.

Jess Pena stands by some of her work on display in the UAF fine arts gallery as part of her senior thesis she produced along with fellow art major Rebecka DelCastillo. | UAF Photo by Todd Paris

The discipline of art can lead to a wide range of careers across various sectors. Here are some career options that can result from a background in art:


These are just a few examples of the diverse career opportunities available to those with a background in art. The specific career path you choose may depend on your interests, skills, and the specialization within the field that you pursue. That being said, art education is also very valuable in other fields especially where linear problem solving is standard. Artists are known for their creative thinking and ability to make connections that are unexpected leading to creative leaps in the typical problem solving process.

Two students examine a litho stone in the printmaking studio

Universal Skills

In the discipline of art, various soft skills are highly valuable for success and professional growth. These soft skills include:

Creativity, Adaptability, Attention to Detail, Communication, Critical Thinking, Patience, Problem-solving, Self-motivation, Emotional Intelligence, Open-mindedness, Resilience, Time Management, Collaboration, Empathy, Business Acumen & Presentation Skills.

These soft skills complement an artist's technical and creative abilities, contributing to a well-rounded and successful career in the art world. Whether you're a visual artist, designer, or in any other art-related profession, cultivating these skills can enhance your artistic journey.




Art at the University of Alaska Fairbanks




Our MFA program is a three-year program in studio art. Major areas of concentration for the MFA can be selected from:

Computer Art
Native Art
Areas of concentration for the BFA program are:


Computer Art
Metalsmithing (Jewelry)
Native Art

Summer semester courses have included outdoor painting in various remote locations in Alaska. In addition to regular studio courses, we offer workshops by visiting artists.



Lauren Austin looks for ideas during her summer sessions metalsmithing class in the UAF Fine Arts Complex.

The bachelor’s in art is comprised of professional coursework that focuses on the means, modes and history of art to encourage independent, original, critical and creative thinking. Our courses are designed to help you explore, research and master the skills needed for a variety of art careers.





  Online Availability

The art history and art minors are available online. 

Some studio areas, such as computer arts and photography, are available as online classes as well.

Why should I study art at UAF when I could study it anywhere?

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is a small university with a lot of big opportunities. The art community in and around UAF is supportive and diverse, not to mention surrounded by incredible scenery and phenomena unlike any other. Draw inspiration from the vast wilderness, the dancing northern lights and the unique quality of light. Explore our many resources available to art students, including the Alaska Native Art Studio, access to NASA faculty, visiting artists, student club sponsorship to conferences and more. Our faculty supports creative exploration and is open-minded when it comes to your unique learning desires and interests.

What will you make at UAF?



How can I get involved?

The UAF Department of Art offers many opportunities to explore the performing arts without even leaving campus.


Margot Klass book making course

Community Services


The UAF Art Department works in partnership with arts and cultural organizations statewide including:

The Art Department also provides:


In addition, the UAF Art Department provides services to UA campuses and schools throughout the north through outreach events.

A colorful block sculpture sits in the foreground of the Visual Arts Academy end of the season art show





(from left) Carrie Baker, Professor and Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Dept. of Theatre and Film, Maya Salganek, Director of FRAME and Associate Professor, Film/Video Arts, and Da-ka-xeen Mehner, Professor of Native Art and Department Chair, take a photo before the faculty processional during the University of Alaska Fairbanks 2023 Commencement Ceremony at the Carlson Center Saturday, May 6, 2023. | UAF Photo by Eric Engman

At UAF, you’ll learn from professional artists who understand the unique cultural context of Alaska. You’ll benefit from a vibrant art community in Fairbanks and access distinctive opportunities, like workshops with Native artists and elders, and artists-in-residence programs with renowned artists from throughout Alaska.