Dec 04, 2022  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Department of Visual and Performing Arts

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School of Liberal Arts


Chair: Associate Professor Nancy Wynn, MFA

Associate Professor Dr. Laura Moore Pruett, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Dr. Kathleen Sills, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor Jonathan Latiano, MFA

Assistant Professor Dan Vlahos, MFA

Lecturer Music and Assistant Director of Bands Andrew C. Cote, D.M.A.

Lecturer Technical Theatre and Design James Petty, Ph.D.

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts offers a variety of courses in studio art, art history, graphic design, music, theatre, film, and visual storytelling. It offers four Bachelor of Arts degree programs: Art and Art History, Graphic Design, Music, and Theatre Arts. It offers five minors: Art History, Graphic Design, Music, Studio Arts, Theatre Arts, as well as offers two interdisciplinary minors in Film Studies and Visual Storytelling.

Students are presented with opportunities for study in studio practice, history, theory, appreciation, research, and performance. All of our programs explore traditional and innovative processes and practices of the visual arts and performance. 

The courses offered by the Department serve to introduce students to the artistic traditions that are their heritage and to enable them to participate in the continuation and enrichment of these traditions. Many of its courses serve as arts and literature courses for the College’s Liberal Arts Core.

The Visual and Performing Arts Major in Art and Art History

The Art and Art History program at Merrimack College is an interdisciplinary major that allows students to investigate an academic and creative practice through the dual lenses of studio art and art history. It establishes the intrinsic connection between the art historian and the practicing studio artist. The program seeks to graduate well-rounded citizen artists and historians, who have a keen understanding of both the art world and the larger contextual society in which it operates. After taking a broad range of foundational studio art and art history courses, Art and Art History majors tailor their degrees by selecting a concentration track in either Studio Arts or Art History. The broadness of the major enables students to tailor the major to their specific interests. In addition to their academic studies and studio work, special consideration is paid to real-world experiences and learning. All Art and Art History majors are required to conduct at least one professional internship or apprenticeship, which could include but is not limited to: Professional artist assistant and museum/gallery internships. The Art and Art History program at Merrimack College emphasizes a post-structuralist, multi-channeled approach to exploring all aspects of the historical and contemporary artworld, and champions research, creativity, innovation, sustainable and ethical practices, and collaboration and community. Upon successful completion of the Art and Art History program, students will have a comprehensive understanding of the professional workings of the contemporary art world and will be positioned to succeed in a variety of career paths, including: studio artist, curator, art critic/writer, museum/gallery registrar, illustrator, and various museum and/or gallery positions. In addition to these career paths, students will have the education and skill sets necessary to pursue graduate, post-baccalaureate, Master of Art, Masters of Fine Arts, and Ph.D. Programs in art and art history.

The Visual and Performing Arts Major in Graphic Design

The Graphic Design Major at Merrimack College offers students a rich blend of art and design history, with diverse opportunities to develop their artistic and creative expression in both design and the studio arts. Students start with foundational courses challenging them to look, think, question, make, critique, and evaluate art and design. Next, they choose one of two foci-Brand Design or Interaction Design-thereby selecting a concentration most appropriate to their learning, creative, professional and career goals.

Students receive a strong foundation in design thinking, theory, process and practice, along with a background in the Liberal Arts. The program challenges students to learn through research, critical questioning, problem analysis, and the methodologies of the design industry. Students also develop an understanding and working knowledge of current industry-standard technical skills.

The Graphic Design curriculum helps students build their knowledge, year by year, through courses of increasing complexity, as well as internships and opportunities for real-world design practice. In addition, students develop important transferable skills, such as writing, listening, collaboration, self-management, oral presentation, as well as accountability and responsibility, that serve them well in any setting. To satisfy the major, students must pass Sophomore and Junior Portfolio Reviews. Seniors, in their Methodologies of Scholarship course, are required to complete design research for a Senior Capstone project, along with a professional identity and portfolio website.

Graphic designers work in web and app design, print and e-publishing, or identity and branding design. As a graduate, students are confident and prepared for employment in these fields and have the knowledge and skills to pursue careers in advertising and marketing agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations and institutions along with much more. This major also serves as a foundation for creative work in the fine arts, or further study in a graduate program.

Technology Requirements for the Graphic Design Program

Students majoring in Graphic Design are required to have an Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription and a professional level laptop at the start of their junior year. Inquiries about technical requirements are always welcome. Please contact Nancy Wynn, Director of the Graphic Design program, by email:

Transfer Students to the Graphic Design Program

For students transferring into the program, the transfer of studio courses and level of placement in the Graphic Design program will be determined by the Graphic Design faculty. Students wishing to major in Graphic Design are required to submit a portfolio to the Department of Visual and Performing Arts for review.

During the portfolio review, the Graphic Design faculty will assess the student’s studio skills, as well as the courses to be transferred toward the degree requirements. Faculty will compare the student’s level of accomplishment with the Graphic Design Program’s expectations to determine where the student is qualified for placement into the program.

Portfolios can be submitted in-person or digitally. To submit a portfolio, or ask questions about the process, please contact Nancy Wynn, Director of the Graphic Design program, by email:

The Visual and Performing Arts Major in Music

The music major provides students with a creative and comprehensive music education. Students analyze and interpret music, study theory, create original music, and perform. The degree reflects current trends in music production and engineering and introduces students to music production software and equipment, music composition programs, music theory and history, and more. 

The music major is open to all students and there are no prerequisites to apply. Auditions are not required and students do not have to be able to read music to declare a music major. The curriculum includes core classes, experiential learning and performance courses, and a senior capstone project.

Upon graduation possible music careers for music majors may include: recording engineer in sound studios or performance venues; artist-in-residence or performer; music ministry; sound designer; music composer for the film and video game industries; music educator; and arts business or arts management within the music industry. Students are also well-prepared to enter a music-related graduate program at the master’s and doctoral levels to pursue music therapy, musicology, music librarianship or other programs.

The Visual and Performing Arts Major in Theatre Arts

The major in theatre arts combines a liberal arts perspective with in-depth study of theatre in its historical and cultural contexts. At the core of the program is the belief that the best theatre artist is one who possesses both a broad knowledge of the theory and literature of the field and highly developed artistic skills. The major recognizes the importance of all aspects of theatre and offers courses and/or practical training in performance, technical theatre, design, directing, arts management playwriting, and dramaturgy. Senior Capstone experiences offer students the opportunity to create and construct significant theatre-making projects as conclusion to their theatre studies.

The theatre arts major helps students prepare for a career in live theater production, arts management and/or performance. Students are well-equipped to pursue a range of opportunities, such as actor, director, writer, technician, and designer, in a number of arts-related fields including theatre, television, film, corporate communications, advertising and more. A theatre arts degree is also valuable in other careers that require collaborative skills, creative imagination, and discipline, such as education/training, management and law. Furthermore, the degree provides students with the necessary foundation for further graduate school training.

Major GPA

Students must achieve a final grade point average of 2.00 or better within any majors offered by the Visual and Performing Arts Department. The GPA for majors will be calculated as the average of all courses taken within the major.


    Bachelor of ArtsMinor

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