photo of books and paint brushes on a desktop


Art majors at Reed study both art history and studio art. These two branches of the department are united philosophically and, to an extent rare among liberal arts institutions, in practice. Students doing a thesis in studio art or art history are required to take at least four courses in the other discipline.

Reed’s art history professors teach western and nonwestern art ranging from the ancient to the contemporary, and our studio professors teach courses in drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and digital media.

In art history, courses acquaint students with periods, movements, and issues in art and in the various methods of art-historical research. Students learn to refine their powers of critical observation by talking and writing at length about individual works of art.

In studio art, the introductory courses stress formal, technical, and conceptual topics through a broad range of projects. More independent exploration, which might involve further work in the traditional core media or branch off into more experimental forms, is encouraged in upper-level studio art courses.

In recent years, art majors have often supplemented their work at Reed with a semester or year abroad as well as with research opportunities, like those funded by the President’s Summer Fellowship.

“Studying art at Reed gave me the unique opportunity to combine my interdisciplinary interests. Not only did I develop my artistic abilities, but I further cultivated my design sensibility due to the emphasis placed on art theory and discourse.”STEVEN GARCIA ’20

Alumni profile

Lucy Bellwood ’12

Cartoonist & Illustrator
photo of Lucy Bellwood

When Lucy Bellwood ’12, cartoonist and illustrator at Periscope Studio, was a student at Reed, she ran a group to stimulate artistic production among students and connect students with artists in the greater Portland area. She also wrote and drew the comic book True Believer as part of her studio art thesis.

Both inside and outside of class, Lucy was involved in bookbinding, self-publishing, and theatre. After graduating from Reed, she launched into a full-time freelance career with the help of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to publish True Believer. She has since drawn comics for Symbolia Magazine, The Nib, and Cartozia Tales, among others.

Download Art Flyer as a PDF

Opportunities & Resources

The Cooley Gallery
The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery hosts four major exhibitions each year and is home to the college’s permanent art collection. Recent featured artists include Kara Walker and Jamie Isenstein.

Calligraphy has been a defining feature of campus life at Reed, influencing generations of Reed students, including Beat poet Philip Whalen ’50, Adobe type designer Sumner Stone ’67, and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who said of the experience, “I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.” Today, students practice their letters once a week in the Scriptorium.

Digital Images
Reed’s visual resource collection, which is continuously expanding, contains 110,000 slides, 44,000 locally produced digital images, and 72,000 commercially licensed digital images.

What Do Alumni Do?

Resource Preschool Teacher
Bright Horizons
Moira Brown ’21

Assistant Art Preparator
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art
Emma Christ ’19

Operations & Brand, Southern California Ballet
Melissa Fisher ’15

PhD Candidate
University of Melbourne
Cancy Chu ’15

Cofounder of Portland Bookstore
Monograph Bookwerks
Blair Saxon-Hill ’02

Design Engineer
NASA’s International Space Station
Arwen Isaac Dave ’89

Collection Development Librarian
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ross Day ’79