Visual Arts

The Center for Visual Arts provides a studio environment in which undergraduates can pursue their creative interests and earn academic credit in a visual arts program. Art classes allow students to enrich their lives, while diversifying and broadening their educational experience. The Center for Visual Arts (formerly Homewood Art Workshops) provides a studio environment in which undergraduates can pursue their creative interests. The arts teach people to look at reality from different angles. They teach creativity, which is applicable and valuable in every avenue of human endeavor. They teach skills, including perceptual skills, which actually improve the process of thinking and reasoning. In fact, the ability to be flexible in the interpretation of data is a key component of success in research, and making art helps students develop exactly this sort of cognitive flexibility.

Courses in drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture develop observational skills and techniques in the beginning student. Courses in photography, cartooning, and digital media balance studio work with research and critical analysis. Although there is currently no major, students can earn a minor in visual arts. For the minor in visual arts, students may focus on either traditional studio courses or a digital
 curriculum, or they can combine the two tracks for a more
 diverse experience. Students wishing to take more advanced fine arts courses are encouraged to take advantage of Hopkins’ cooperative programs with other colleges in the Baltimore area.

Visual Arts-Minor


Students may focus on one of two tracks: (1) traditional studio courses or (2) a digital curriculum. They have the option to combine the two tracks for a more diverse, if more general, experience.

A minimum range of 15 to 18 credits, including:

Core Course
AS.371.131Studio Drawing I2
or AS.371.152 Introduction to Digital Photography
Art History Course
One course at any level in history of art3-4
Visual Arts Electives
Four additional visual arts courses10-12
Total Credits15-18

Additional details:

  • Students may count as many as two visual arts courses taken at MICA, but not offered at Hopkins, toward the minor. These courses must be approved in advance by the advisor.
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade and students must receive a grade of C- or better to apply the course towards the minor.
  • One independent study course in the visual arts may be counted toward the minor.
  • One visual arts course, not offered at Hopkins, taken in a JHU-affiliated study abroad program may be counted toward the minor.
  • Each student’s complete program of study must be approved by the advisor.
  • Advising will be done by the Director (Studio) and the Photography Coordinator (Digital).

For current course information and registration go to


AS.371.131. Studio Drawing I. 2.0 Credits.

This course focuses on developing fundamental drawing skills for the student with little or no previous studio experience. Basic concepts of form and composition will be taught through exercises based on the book, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, and with the aid of still life setups and live models. Attendance at 1st class is mandatory. Approval for this course will be considered after enrollment in SIS; no need to email.
Instructor(s): Staff.

AS.371.133. Oil Painting I. 2.0 Credits.

This course offers the fundamentals of oil painting techniques for the serious student with minimal prior studio experience. Observational skills are taught through the extensive use of still-life setups, with particular attention paid to issues of light, color, and composition. Slide lectures and a museum trip give students an art historical context in which to place their own discoveries as beginning painters. Approval for this course will be considered after enrollment in SIS; no need to email.
Prerequisites: (AS.371.131 or equivalent) or instructor's permission.
Instructor(s): C. Hankin.

AS.371.134. Oil Painting II. 2.0 Credits.

Students who have mastered basic painting skills undertake sustained projects, including portrait and plein air landscape work. Slide lectures and handouts deepen students' appreciation of representational traditions. Advanced techniques, materials, and compositional issues are also investigated. Recommended Course Background: AS.371.133 or equivalent. Approval for this course will be considered after enrollment in SIS; no need to email.
Prerequisites: Prereq: AS.371.133 or permission of the instructor.
Instructor(s): B. Gruber.

AS.371.135. Studio Drawing II. 2.0 Credits.

Building on basic drawing skills, this course explores various media, techniques, and compositional elements with special emphasis on still life, portrait, and life drawing. A visit to the Baltimore Museum of Art's Print & Drawing Library supplements lectures and enriches the student’s understanding of the history of artists’ drawings. Recommended Course Background: AS.371.131 or instructor's permission.
Instructor(s): C. Hankin.

AS.371.136. Drawing: The Portrait. 2.0 Credits.

An intensive look at the traditions and techniques of portrait drawing. Students work from live models in a variety of media and study master portraits by Holbein, Rembrandt, Ingres, Degas, etc. Trips to the Baltimore Museum of Art Print & Drawing Room and JHU Archaeological Museum will enhance knowledge and appreciation of the history and traditions of portraiture. Recommended Course Background: AS.371.131 or permission required.
Instructor(s): C. Hankin.

AS.371.139. Still Life/Interior/Landscape. 2.0 Credits.

This intermediate drawing class will examine three grand traditions in representational art. We will explore problems in still life that have occupied artists from Chardin to Morandi; in interiors from Vermeer to Giacometti; in landscape from Corot to Diebenkorn. We will also look at where the boundaries between these genres blur and how they overlap.
Instructor(s): C. Hankin.

AS.371.140. Cartooning. 3.0 Credits.

Not open to Freshmen. A history-and-practice overview for students of the liberal arts. The conceptual basis and historical development of cartooning is examined in both artistic and social contexts. Class sessions consist of lecture (slides/handouts), exercises, and ongoing assignments. Topics include visual/narrative analysis, symbol & satire, editorial/political cartoons, character development, animation. Basic drawing skills are preferred but not required.
Instructor(s): T. Chalkley
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.147. Design Studies: Art of Architecture. 3.0 Credits.

In this course, students will learn to design, draw, and see like an architect. A series of progressive design exercises will teach the practical capacities and habits of mind that lead not merely to competence but success and advancement in the field. We will look at what architecture has been, discuss what it is becoming, and explore both formal and narrative methodologies for design. The class will use the built environment of the city - and the Homewood campus - as a classroom and a site for interpretive drawing and creative design work. Essential in the architect's education is the sketchbook, which functions not merely as a place to 'store' what has been witnessed, but a place to interpret and explore implications of design in the world, whether close to home or traveling in exotic locales.
Instructor(s): C. Phinney
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.149. Visual Reality. 3.0 Credits.

In art, "Realism" is a simulation of visual reality. But art can also simulate alternative realities, those realities or truths which exist only in daydreams or nightmares. In this class, we will learn to explore and create representations of these additional moments of existence. This will require thinking creatively or "outside the box," a useful skill in any field. Using a variety of media, students are asked to solve problems to which there is no one correct answer.
Instructor(s): D. Bakker
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.150. Life Drawing. 2.0 Credits.

An intermediate drawing course focusing on all aspects of the human form. Beginning with infrastructure (skeletal and muscular systems), we will work directly from the model using a variety of media and techniques to address problems in figurative art from the Renaissance to the present.
Prerequisites: Prereq: AS.371.131 or instructors permission.
Instructor(s): C. Hankin.

AS.371.151. Photoshop/Digital Darkroom. 3.0 Credits.

Photoshop is not only the digital darkroom for processing images created with digital cameras; it is also a creative application for making original artwork. In this course, students use Photoshop software as a tool to produce images from a fine art perspective, working on projects that demand creative thinking while gaining technical expertise. Students will make archival prints, have regular critiques, and attend lectures on the history of the manipulated image and its place in culture. We will look at art movements which inspire digital artists, including 19th-century collage, dada, surrealism, and the zeitgeist of Hollywood films. Students must have a digital SLR camera. Prior knowledge of Photoshop is not required. Attendance at first class is mandatory. Approval for this course will be considered after enrollment on SIS; no need to email.
Instructor(s): H. Ehrenfeld
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.152. Introduction to Digital Photography. 3.0 Credits.

Students learn to use their digital cameras through a variety of documentary, landscape and portrait projects, which will help them develop technical and creative skills. Critiques and slide lectures of historic photographs, which range from postmortem daguerreotypes to postmodern digital imagery, help students develop a personal vision. Students are provided digital SLR cameras and gain proficiency with one-on-one instruction in the field. Basics for print adjustment and output will be covered. Attendance at first class is mandatory. Approval for this course will be considered after enrollment on SIS; no need to email.
Instructor(s): G. Salazar; H. Ehrenfeld
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.154. Introduction to Watercolor. 2.0 Credits.

Watercolor is simultaneously the most accessible of all painting media and the most misunderstood. This course provides experience and instruction in observational and expressive watercolor techniques, materials, concepts, and vocabulary. Topics to be reviewed include line, perspective, value, texture,composition, color, and pictorial space. There will be an introduction to contemporary practices in watercolor, as well as experimental and abstract exercises, collage, and conceptual work.
Instructor(s): S. Kopf.

AS.371.155. Introduction to Sculpture. 2.0 Credits.

A studio course introducing students to sculptural concepts and methods. Emphasis is on the process of creating. Even the simplest materials can effectively activate space, convey meaning, and elicit emotion when used thoughtfully and imaginatively. Students will learn different methods including additive and reductive techniques, construction, modeling, and mold-making. No prerequisites except a willingness to experiment, make mistakes... and clean up when you are done. Seniors only or permission required.
Instructor(s): L. Premo.

AS.371.162. Black and White: Digital Darkroom. 3.0 Credits.

In this digital course, students explore the black-and-white aesthetic. They develop camera skills on numerous field trips including Ladew Topiary Gardens, the Maryland Zoo & Botanical Gardens, and an optional weekend trip to Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware. Students meet frequently for critiques and discussions based on historic and contemporary imagery. They will learn to use Photoshop for image adjustment. Techniques such as high dynamic range, duotone, panorama and infrared will be covered. Students work on a project of their choice and produce a portfolio of ten prints. Digital SLRs are provided. Attendance at 1st class is mandatory. No need to email for approval.
Instructor(s): P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.164. Introduction to Printmaking. 2.0 Credits.

Working with non-toxic/water based inks and both an engraving press and hand tools, students will explore several types of printmaking. Methods will include intaglio, collograph and both simple and multi-plate relief. As they develop their prints, students can then observe and exploit the strengths that each method has to offer. Drawing and Photoshop skills are helpful but not required.
Instructor(s): L. Premo.

AS.371.165. Location Photography. 3.0 Credits.

Working in the studio and in various locations, students will learn the fundamentals of lighting interiors and strategies for working in almost any environment. Field trips will include the National Aquarium, Evergreen Museum & Library, a Howard County horse farm, a Tiffany-designed church and a Hampden photo studio. Students will also concentrate on the fine art of printing in our digital lab. They will develop a final portfolio of 10 photographs which express a personal vision about a location of their choice. A basic knowledge of digital photography is helpful, but not required. Approval for this course will be considered after enrollment on SIS.
Instructor(s): H. Ehrenfeld
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.166. Landscape Photography. 3.0 Credits.

Class begins: Wednesday, July 6th. In this course students will experience the drama and beauty of the urban and rural landscape. On numerous field trips they will hone their camera technique as well as learn elements of composition and develop a personal style. Students will learn the fundamentals of Photoshop and they will also be introduced to the beauty of black and white in Silver Efex software. Digital SLR cameras will be provided.
Instructor(s): P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.167. Lens to Page: The Photographer's Book. 3.0 Credits.

In this unique course, a photographer, a museum curator, and a book artist mentor students as they create photography books on subjects of their choosing. The class will concentrate on elements of composition, narration, design, and aesthetics. Field trips to view both public and private book collections and libraries will provide historical context for the evolution of book production, while actual shared volumes may serve as inspiration or models for emulation. As final project, each student will create a hardbound book using Blurb software. Fundamentals of Photoshop will be covered. A culminating exhibition affords students the opportunity to showcase their respective volumes at JHU's elegant Evergreen Museum & Library. Attendance at first class is mandatory.
Instructor(s): P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.170. Works on Paper. 2.0 Credits.

As the title suggests, experienced students in this course will focus on the creation of artwork on paper. We’ll use a wide variety of paper supports and mediums will include pastel, ink, watercolor, charcoal, acrylic and oil paint. Subject matter will range from figure to landscape, from color theory to differentiation. Working visits to the Baltimore Museum of Art and Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum are planned.
Instructor(s): B. Gruber
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.171. Color Explorations & Theory. 3.0 Credits.

Course begins Tuesday, June 28th. We will explore the physical characteristics, psychological effects and basic physics of color through exercises in various applications. Primary mediums include: Paint, Color-Aid Paper & Photoshop. Emphasis is placed on the investigation of color effects used in applied and fine arts.
Instructor(s): C. Gregory
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.172. DIY Art: You Are the Medium. 3.0 Credits.

Art is not confined to the makers labors with traditional art materials. Art is transactional and can be made of anything. It brings forth personal narrative ones internal experience in a concrete form ±and seeks resonance with the viewer. Art-making is a shared place of possibility and self-revelation, available to anyone with a desire to make visible their thoughts and feelings. Students will engage with novel creative processes and materials and will be challenged to broaden their perspectives on the essential nature of art. Personal narratives will be deepened through a class visit to the American Visionary Art Museum, as well as a short-term group residency with the artists of Make Studio in Hampden. Approval for this course will be considered after enrollment on ISIS; no need to email.
Instructor(s): C. Goucher
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.174. Introduction to Digital Art Production. 2.0 Credits.

An introduction to digital media tools with a focus on creating art and communicating ideas. Develop your skills in audio/visual communication including graphics, web design, sound and video production. Class meets at the Digital Media Center and includes an introduction to DMC’s facilities and broad range of digital production gear, plus studio visits with digital artists working in a variety of media.
Instructor(s): K. Anchor.

AS.371.177. Design Studies: Detail, Product, Prototype. 3.0 Credits.

When we undertake the design of an artifact—something material, perhaps interactive—we do more than create a pretty little sculpture, or simply enclose the inner workings of a product. We think about aesthetics; about ergonomics; about material heft and surface texture. In a successful product, toy, or building detail it is often something ineffable—the way the object interfaces with the human hand, or the way it takes on a personality in the mind—that results in its success as an object of design. The course is structured as a series of design exercises, each intended to develop the graphical and manual skill-set of the designer. Our subject, broadly speaking, is the design of small things: from building details to useful products and tools, the act of drawing iterative design sketches, and creating prototypes, will guide us in the development of practical design intelligence.
Instructor(s): C. Phinney
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.190. Painting & Drawing the Local Landscape. 2.0 Credits.

Clear fall weather in Baltimore and the wide variety of landscape and architecture in and around the Homewood campus provide an ideal opportunity to paint and draw outside. Working from life, masterworks and slides, we will investigate the history and practice of landscape painting, beginning with tonal wash drawings and progressing to full-color paintings. Media will include charcoal, ink, watercolor and oil paint. Slide lectures, demonstrations and museum and library visits will be featured. Portable easels provided.
Prerequisites: AS.371.131 OR AS.371.133 OR Instructor's Permission Required
Instructor(s): B. Gruber.

AS.371.191. Introduction to Video Art. 2.0 Credits.

Throughout the semester, students will screen video art and respond by shooting and editing their own video works. They will think critically about the personal and societal function that video artwork serves. We’ll look at the work of artists ranging from Martha Rosler and Hennessy Youngman, to Spike Jonze and music videos. We will discuss and explore the intersections between video, poetry, painting, and music. Students will be required to learn video editing software, write short video responses, and read and discuss relevant essays. Students can expect to shoot and edit four video production assignments.
Instructor(s): J. Roche.

AS.371.200. Visualizing Music. 3.0 Credits.

In this course, JHU photography students will pair up with Peabody Conservatory of Music student composers to develop an interdisciplinary work that grows out of their conversations and passions. Working under the guidance of Phyllis Berger, CVA Photography Supervisor, and David Smooke, Peabody Conservatory Music Theory Chair, students will design a program of music and photography that brings together the experience of looking and listening. Their work will be exhibited and performed at Evergreen Museum and Library. Attendance at first class is mandatory.
Instructor(s): D. Smooke; P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.201. Drawing Outside the Box. 3.0 Credits.

Class begins Monday, May 27th. We will explore essential principles, tools, terminology & media, while pushing the boundaries of "traditional drawing" by adopting alternatives such as drawing with wire, inking with grass, and animating gesture in Photoshop. Not only will we draw from observation, which builds the perceptual platform and skills for spatial understanding and rendering, we will draw from intuition, movement, and outdoor stimuli. Subject matter may include: still life, interiors, landscape, architecture, the human figure and personal narrative.
Instructor(s): C. Gregory
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.202. Street Photography: Ten Photos, Ten Stories. 3.0 Credits.

Street photography is about seeing and reacting, in order to capture small, revelatory moments in a single image. We'll cover camera operation basics, study inspiring examples by historical and contemporary photographers such as Robert Frank and Helen Levitt, and develop a more acute sense of sight on field trips to public parks and neighborhoods and through assignments and critiques. In the second half of the semester, students work on their own projects to develop 10 images that each tell a story, however slight, about the human condition.
Instructor(s): J. Bishop
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.301. Landscapes: Photographing the Burren. 3.0 Credits.

The Burren College of Art, located in a medieval castle on Ireland's Atlantic coast, serves as the base for this digital photography course. Fundamentals of the Digital SLR are reviewed as well as image correction and manipulation in Photoshop. Focusing on the varied landscapes of Ireland, students will assemble a portfolio of digital photographs and exhibit their work in a group show at the end of the Program. Students of all majors and levels are welcome. Course must be taken for a grade.
Instructor(s): P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.302. Photographic Portfolio. 3.0 Credits.

In this upper level course, experienced students will work on a semester-long project that reflects their artistic sensibility, interests and passion for photography. They will develop their ideas within a seminar style format that allows for conversation and debate and provides a forum for the evolution of content within their work. Through a combination of critique, lecture and lab, students will complete a portfolio of ten printed images that work together in a series. Recommended Course Background: Previous CVA photography course or instructor's permission.
Instructor(s): P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.303. Documentary Photography. 3.0 Credits.

In this course, we will explore different genres of documentary photography including: the fine art document, photojournalism, social documentary photography, the photo essay and photography of propaganda. Field trips offer opportunities to work in the field. Students will work on a semester-long photo-documentary project on a subject of their choice. Camera experience is a plus, but not a prerequisite. Students will be loaned a digital SLR for the semester.
Instructor(s): P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.304. Photo Seminar: Wet Darkroom. 3.0 Credits.

In this film based course, students develop a project of their choice over the semester working independently in the darkroom and meeting for weekly critiques and discussions. Using the zone system (a method of pre-visualization developed by Ansel Adams) students will experiment with different film, paper and developer combinations specific to their projects. Writing in the form of a journal as well as critical analysis of images are integral parts of the seminar experience.
Prerequisites: AS.371.146 or Permission Required
Instructor(s): Staff
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.305. Photographs and Text: The Art of the Narrative. 3.0 Credits.

In the tradition of the illuminated manuscript, students will use photographs and text creatively to tell a story. Their journey will begin with visits to Johns Hopkins University museums, where they will choose an object as inspiration for their narrative. This could be an illustration from the George Peabody Library, a statue from the Archaeological Museum, an instrument from the Civil War at the Johns Hopkins Medical Museum, or a silver spoon at the Homewood Museum. Field trips to the JHU museums will be an integral part of this course. The resulting portfolios of five large prints will be curated by Evergreen Museum & Library director James Abbott for an exhibition at Evergreen Museum. Course will be co-taught by CVA instructor Phyllis Berger and book artist Betty Sweren.
Instructor(s): P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.306. Digital Photography: Photographing the Burren. 3.0 Credits.

The Burren College of Art, located in a medieval castle on Ireland's Atlantic coast, serves as the base for this digital photography course. Fundamentals of the Digital SLR are covered as well as image correction and manipulation in Photoshop. Students will work one-on-one with their instructor and will exhibit their work in a group show at the end of the program. Students of all majors and levels are welcome. Course must be taken for a grade.
Instructor(s): H. Ehrenfeld; P. Berger
Area: Humanities.

AS.371.501. Independent Study. 2.0 Credits.

Instructor(s): B. Gruber; P. Berger.

AS.371.502. Independent Study. 0.0 - 2.0 Credits.

Instructor(s): B. Gruber; C. Hankin; P. Berger.

AS.371.590. Independent Study. 3.0 Credits.

Instructor(s): C. Hankin.

Cross Listed Courses

Film and Media Studies

AS.061.376. Arts and Culture Journalism: Interactive Media, Online Publishing. 3.0 Credits.

Students will participate in the ongoing creation of, an online arts and culture publication that serves the Baltimore community. In conjunction with visiting professionals, students will investigate the Baltimore cultural community and create different types of editorial content using interactive media including film, video, sound, and writing. Students will produce creative content utilizing their individual areas of expertise - such as visual art, art history, music, literary arts, film, and theater - while working together as a professional organization. A strong emphasis will be placed on the student’s collaborative participation and creative experimentation. Students with differing backgrounds in media will approach this project from unique perspectives, which will be valued and cultivated. Students with previous experience in journalism are welcome. An introductory writing or film course is suggested as a prerequisite.
Instructor(s): C. Ober
Area: Humanities
Writing Intensive.

German & Romance Languages & Literatures

AS.213.348. Picturing Jews: Representing Jewish Identity in Modern Art, Film & Literature. 3.0 Credits.

This course will consider the different ways Jewish identity has been represented in the 19th and 20th centuries, focusing primarily on Central and Eastern Europe. Race, nationalism, religion, language, geography, politics—all helped shape different ways of understanding just what it meant to be a Jew, and all found expression in art and literature by both Jews and non-Jews. Looking at texts originally written in German, Yiddish, and Hebrew, including prose, poetry, journalism and drama, as well as painting, photography, graphic design, architecture, and film we will gain an understanding of the range of ways that Jewish identity could be understood and expressed as well as of the ideological stakes and historical contexts of such representations. Writers and artists examined will include Chagall, Kafka, Sholem Aleichem, and Bialik. All readings will be in translation.
Instructor(s): S. Spinner
Area: Humanities.

Writing Seminars

AS.220.407. The Illustrated Short Story. 4.0 Credits.

A collaboration of The Writing Seminars and The Center for Visual Arts Students will study JHU’s Homewood House, residence of the Carroll family, choosing a room as the site of a story or a series of prose poems. To illustrate their work and produce an artist book, students will learn camera handling and Photoshop.
Instructor(s): J. McGarry
Area: Humanities.

Program in Museums and Society

AS.389.335. Recreating Ancient Greek Ceramics. 4.0 Credits.

This hands-on course in experimental archaeology brings together undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines to study the making of Athenian vases. Students work closely with expert ceramic artists, and in consultation with art historians, archaeologists, art conservators, and materials scientists to recreate Greek manufacturing processes.
Instructor(s): S. Balachandran
Area: Humanities.

For current faculty and contact information go to



Margaret Murphy
Instructor: painting and drawing.


D. S. Bakker
Aesthetics, visual philosophy, Surrealism.

Phyllis Berger
Photography Supervisor: photography, artists’ books, documentary photography.

Cathy Goucher
Art therapy, non-traditional materials and techniques

Thomas Chalkley
Sequential imagery, political and social satire, popular culture.

Howard Ehrenfeld
Digital photography and imaging, location photography.

Barbara Gruber
Figure painting, plein air landscape.

Suzanne Kopf
Watercolor, mixed media

Larcia Premo
Sculpture, printmaking.