Jun 05, 2020  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog

Department of Fine and Performing Arts

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Chair:   Gina M. Lewis
Professors:   Marymal Holmes
Associate Professor:   Bob Bartlett, Gina M. Lewis, Tewodross Melchishua-Williams
Assistant Professor:    Jennifer Dorsey, Kathryn Kawecki, Gilbert Pryor, Janell Pryor, Jennifer White-Johnson, Art Vidrine
Lecturers:   LaTonya Wrenn, 
Instructor   Danielle Brown


Consistent with the University’s overall mission, the Department of Fine and Performing Arts is dedicated to providing a comprehensive and holistic education that will produce empowered graduates prepared to meet the challenges of their discipline, stay abreast of technology, and embrace diversity. The Department fosters community outreach that perpetuates an overall appreciation of visual arts, music, dance, and theatre and their recognition of the arts in academe.


  1. To provide a progressive and rigorous curriculum with activities that ground students in the arts holistically, as well in their specific areas of concentration.
  2. To recruit, retain and graduate academically sound and diverse student populations.
  3. To encourage individual creativity and experimentation in interdisciplinary activities, in arts as a business, and in overall aesthetics.
  4. To cultivate critical thinking through individual and collective examinations of quality in the arts and aesthetics.
  5. To offer the most current technological advances employed in art/design, music, dance and theatre.
  6. To expose students to a variety of cultural experiences that enhances their artistic repertoire and develops their appreciation for diversity.
  7. Through partnerships, alliances and/or collaborative experiences, increase departmental support and visibility.
  8. To foster an appreciation of the arts as a cultural force in society, on the campus and in surrounding communities.
  9. To strengthen viable human and fiscal resources and maintain accountability to both the university and the public


  1. To offer courses which stimulate students to learn about art and creative self-expression, as a part of their cultural growth.
  2. To foster an appreciation for the value of art experiences.
  3. To acquaint students with Fine and Performing Arts practices of various cultures, from prehistoric times to the present.
  4. To show the relationship of the fine and performing arts to other fields of learning.
  5. To encourage students who demonstrate interest and potential for artistic growth to continue the study of art in its various forms.
  6. To provide students with a strong base in the visual and performing arts, research, technology and professional performance and exhibition.

Department of Fine & Performing Arts Requirements

The Department of Fine & Performing Arts (DFPA) offers three bachelor’s degree programs, the Bachelor of Fine Arts with concentrations in Art (with tracks in 2D, 3D, Photography, and Integrated Studios); Music, and Music Technology; the Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts (with tracks in Acting & Directing, and Dance & Movement Studies); and The Bachelor of Visual Communications and Digital Media Arts (VCDMA) (with concentrations in Advertising Design, Animation & Motion Graphics, Digital Cinema & Time-Based Media, Digital Media Arts, and Fashion Design).  The maximum number of credit hours required for each of these degree programs is 120.  Upon selecting a major and concentration, students should consult with the appropriate program coordinator and an advisor.

Special Requirements

Students pursuing the BA in Fine Arts must take 12 semester hours of a foreign language.  So, twelve (12) of the combined fifteen (15) credits in Arts and Humanities and General Education Electives listed below must be in a foreign language.

Students must successfully pass the English Proficiency Exam. It is recommended that the exam be taken after successful completion of English 101 & 102 and before the end of the junior year.

General Requirements

The student officially declares Fine Arts, Theater, or VCDMA, as a major, along with their concentration,  by entering it on his/her initial application for admission or by submitting the Declaration of Major/Program Form.  All majors must earn at least a grade of “C” in all required core courses taken in the major; otherwise, the course must be repeated.  Majors demonstrating a fundamental weakness in an area of study may be required by the Department Chair to take additional study in the deficit area.  All students applying for admission as majors in the Department are expected to demonstrate their skills via portfolio or performance, as appropriate.

NOTE: Students are encouraged to take SUMMER courses in order to have a manageable semester load. Students must successfully pass the English Proficiency Exam.  It is recommended that the exam be taken after successful completion of English 101 & 102 and before the end of the junior year.

The Department reserves the right to specify suitable general education courses for its majors, in keeping with COMAR.


The Visual Communication and Digital Media Arts (VCDMA) enables and empowers students for a career in visual communication, design and media arts. Students who follow this concentration are introduced to opportunities in graphic design, digital filmmaking, animation, fashion design, digital art and imaging, and multimedia.  

Currently, this program leads to the Bachelors of Science degree in VCDMA. The VCDMA program offers (5) five concentrations in Advertising Design, Animation & Motion Graphics, Digital Cinema & Time-Based Media, Digital Media Arts and Fashion Design. The minimum number of semester hours required for the (BS) bachelors of science degree is 120-123 depending on the concentration.  

Students who choose to concentrate in a particular area must consult with a VCDMA faculty advisor.  Additionally, students from other departments may seek to minor in VCDMA and should develop a track scheme with faculty in VCDMA.

Program Goals and Objectives

• To strengthen students’ knowledge, demonstrative skill, and application of visual
   communication, digital art, and the elements and principles of art & design

• To produce students that are highly qualified for various opportunities and careers in visual
   communication, new media, and the digital arts

• To provide the global community with visual artists that are critical thinkers, problem solvers,
   as well as culturally and environmentally conscious designers and producers

• To provide fine arts majors a survey of courses in design, including new media,
   web/multimedia, installation art, fashion design, and product design

• To assist students in career and future educational pursuits by networking with the
   professionals in the visual communication and media industry

• To provide students access to state-of-the art design, digital imaging and multimedia
   technology, as well as the ability to conduct research and participate in collaborative,
   sustainable and interdisciplinary projects

• To introduce students to visual and media artists, designers, and especially those of color who 
   have contributed to the field of technology, art/design, and media

• To further introduce contemporary visual artists/designers incorporating art and technology
   into their creative work and in industry

What Students Learn

By choosing a program that merges art, design, digital media production, technology and business/marketing, you will be prepared to enter a vast number of careers and industries. The VCDMA program strengthens itself through strategic partnerships with departments and programs on campus as well as professional organizations and networking outside of the university. Students are also prepared to compete for entry into graduate school.

Career Opportunities

The field of visual communication is a successful and expanding industry. Students will be exposed to a liberal arts program that provides access to technology, research and training to enter this vast career with success. There are various opportunities in advertising in print, multimedia, product and fashion design; as well as in new media (motion graphics, video, animation, web and game design).

The Prince George’s County, Baltimore/Washington metropolitan areas are major centers for the arts, government, entertainment, technology, business and culture both nationally and internationally. This rapidly expanding area and beyond will allow graduates to find creative employment and research opportunities in related fields. Additionally, VCDMA faculty actively assists students with obtaining internships and at times employment opportunities in the field, both locally and nationally. The vast employment opportunities available for visual communication graduates include:

  •  Design and animation studios
  •  Online and web design companies
  •  Video game and development companies
  •  Book, magazines and newspapers
  •  Publishing houses
  •  Textile and industrial/product design companies
  •  Advertising agencies
  •  Film, motion graphics and video production companies and studios
  •  Boutiques, clothing stores, department stores, clothing buyers/manufacturers; stylist(s)
  •  Theatres, athletic and entertainment venues
  •  Museums and galleries
  •  Educational institutions
  •  Government and non-profit organizations
  •  Cable, local and international television networks and stations
  •  Social media organizations and companies

Admission Requirements

The student must officially declare fine arts as a major in VCDMA (and select a concentration) by entering it on his/her initial application for admission or by submitting the Declaration of Major form. Students are entered as premajors and then after passing appropriate portfolios reviews, coursework, etc. students move onto becoming majors. All students applying for admission to visual communication and digital media arts are expected to demonstrate their skills via a portfolio that highlights ten (or more) examples of foundation skills; observational drawings, 2D/3D design, sculpture or ceramics, photography and painting; digital art or examples graphics only if applicable. This should be submitted via a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM or through slides. Work should be labeled with title, brief description, medium, and dimensions.

Transfer Students

Transfer students are required to present/maintain a comprehensive portfolio of their work prior to acceptance in the department, meet with the VCDMA academic advisor, and complete a transfer credit evaluation and meeting. Contact the DFPA’s office or the registrar’s office for more information. Transfer students must submit a portfolio with their application and send to the ART or VCDMA coordinator/advisor for review. Students who transfer in with 12 credit hours or more are not required to take Freshman Seminar. Note: Not all courses and course levels (example 100, 400, etc.)  will transfer and will be evaluated and reviewed by the department and program coordinator for accuracy. Contact the department and program coordinator for more information.


The new Fine and Performing Arts Center (FPAC) at Bowie State University is a beautiful space with a 400-seat with spaces for performance and visual arts including a main stage theater, movement studio, black box theatre, band room, Steinway piano rooms and rehearsal studios, recital hall; a multimedia recording studio and digital music lab.

VCDMA has provides students access to state-of-the art digital media computer labs, an art resource room, green screen studio, high-end video edit suite, fashion design room and costume shop; design studios and classrooms. Students also have access to a photo studio, darkroom and traditional art studios for painting, drawing, ceramics, printmaking, photography and more. The FPAC also has a student lounge with Wi-Fi access. We invite you to a tour of the FPAC and campus. In addition, there is a darkroom and one (1) state-of-the-art Apple, VCDMA Digital Media lab. In this lab we offer but are not limited to:


1.   Apple iMacs & Mac Pros

2.   Scanners

3.   Large format color printers and plotters

4.   DSLR & 3-chip HI-DEF video cameras and camcorders

5.   Digital Video/Film production equipment; slider, dollies, jib-crane and more

6.  Fashion design equipment, sewing machines, tables, mannequins

7.  Digital video editing and compositing suite


1.   Adobe Creative Suite

2.   Final Cut Pro

3.   AutoCAD/Autodesk Suite (Maya)

4.   After Effects

Students also have access to the latest technology and equipment in digital video production, visual effects, lighting and digital photography, green screen and backdrops. Students also have access to research, printing, scanning and full Wi-Fi internet access in the VCDMA digital media arts lab, during the week with some limited evening and weekend lab access (subject to availability); as well as DVD’s, materials, books, professional and industry journals dedicated to art/design, visual communication, animation, fashion, film, media studies, etc. both in the lab and also in the undergraduate library and Art Resource Center.

The DFPA provides limited access to studios for design, fashion design, digital imaging, drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, traditional arts & crafts and ceramics. There is also access for students to traditional and digital photography equipment and darkrooms as well as green screen, fashion design/costuming and video editing studios.

Library & Research

Students in VCDMA and Art (Studio) has access for research from a variety of sources such as art and design periodicals, journals, resources and more, that cover various software training and tutorials, including subscriptions to Communication Arts, Computer Arts, Women Wear Daily, Lynda.com and other professional art/design, animation, history, theory & criticism; fashion design, media arts, books, DVDs, films, magazines and online resources.  The DFPA provides an Art Resource room for students to conduct research, prepare portfolios and demos, have meetings and more.

Graduation Requirements

Students concentrating in VCDMA or art must earn at least a grade of “C” in courses taken in the major (this includes Business, Marketing, all Art/VCDMA, music, music technology and theatre courses within the DFPA. Otherwise the course(s) must be repeated. The coordinator will require students who show evidence of fundamental weakness in an area of study, advisor and/or department chair to take additional course work in that area. Students must follow program scheme and take courses and prerequisites and in order as advised and per the program.

Juried Student Art Exhibitions and periodic portfolio review/assessment

VCDMA students are required to present/maintain a comprehensive portfolio of their work for periodic inspection and to participate in all juried student art exhibitions, demonstrate evidence of research and work during advisement and faculty reviews in order to be successful in this program.

** Students should consult the ART/VCDMA portfolio tips and guidelines and request this information from their advisor or program coordinator).

Art & Design History courses

Students must also complete a minimum of (12) twelve credit hours in art/design history with a mandatory requirement of ART 404 History of Modern Art/VCDM 367 Design History/VCDM 365 Fashion History/VCDM 394 History of Animation based on specific concentration (see advisement sheet and or advisor for details).

English Proficiency

Students must also successfully pass the English Proficiency Exam. It is recommended that the exam be taken after successful completion of English 101 & 102 and before the end of the junior year. Effective Fall 2017. the English Proficiency Examination will no longer be a graduation requirement for students with the admit term of 2017. 

Portfolio Requirement

All students are required to maintain a professional portfolio and other examples of documentation, research and evidence of matriculation have regularly scheduled portfolio reviews and assessments with faculty. A final and successful exhibition and portfolio review is required to graduate.

Transfer students are expected to present a comprehensive portfolio of their work prior to acceptance in the department. VCDMA students are expected to keep a comprehensive portfolio of their work for periodic inspection; to participate in student art exhibitions, and faculty reviews in order to proceed to the junior level and graduation.

Portfolio Reviews, Assessments and Senior Thesis Exhibition

Upon completion of foundation courses and no later than the end of their sophomore year, students are to submit a portfolio and participate in their first mandatory faculty portfolio review and evaluation.  At the end of their junior year students will participate in their second mandatory faculty review and evaluation.

VCDMA students are required to develop and maintain a comprehensive portfolio of course work and independent art projects for periodic inspection and evaluation throughout their matriculation. This begins in the freshman year and MUST be successfully maintained up to and until graduation. VCDMA students are required to participate in a minimum of two  (2) scheduled faculty reviews in order to:

                 1.   Advance to 300/400 level art courses (proceed to the junior level)

                 2.   Meet requirements for graduation, and submit work for senior thesis course/proposal and final exhibition

VCDM 219 Portfolio Review & Assessment I (Basic)

VCDMA students should sign up for and successfully pass VCDM 219 Portfolio Review & Assessment I and then, VCDM 419 Portfolio Review and Assessment II. Both  courses will be used to capture in the academic record, the student successfully passing of both mandatory portfolio reviews. Students would take and pass these courses similar to the English Proficiency Exam as a “0” credit (Pass/Fail option). These assessments will be repeatable up to no more than (2) two times.

The review in VCDM 219 will consist of a demonstration and 10 or more samples of foundation work and studies such as observational drawings,  (gesture drawing, still life, landscape); 2D/3D design, sculpture, painting, photography and demonstration of the elements and principles of art/design.

In addition, students will also submit a basic writing sample in MLA format, this should be a successful essay, research paper from a previous Art history, history, English or other course at Bowie State University. This must demonstrate format, citations, be free or grammatical errors and a sample that received a grade of “C” or better. Students must also submit their senior thesis proposal for review and approval. See Coordinator for format, requirements and details. They are required to first pass their first portfolio review (ART 219) and also submit a minimum 2-page, typed proposal (with additional sketches, maquettes, storyboards, mood boards or fashion patterns, etc., online and physical portfolio, blog, documentation, evidence of research/creative work, sketchbook). VCDMA Students are also required to submit to faculty for approval for their senior thesis exhibition no later than their sophomore year (2nd semester).

Students should also consult and refer to the VCDMA Senior Thesis Proposal Guide and the VCDMA Senior Thesis & Exhibition Requirements. These are available via the VCDMA webpage and from the academic advisor and/or program coordinator.

This proposal should be submitted  no later than the end of the first portfolio review and assessment. Transfer students will also need to pass the portfolio review and assessments, submit a senior thesis proposal preferably by their sophomore/junior year whichever is earliest and applies. See Program Coordinator and Advisor for more details.

VCDM 419 Portfolio Review and Assessment II (Advanced)

VCDM 419 review will consist of 15-20 or more work (including the work from 219) that demonstrates advanced work in their specific area of concentration.  This work should consist of work in and especially outside of course work and should not be their senior thesis exhibition. If students do not pass the portfolio requirements they may be required to take additional coursework to improve their performance. Students are also to meet regularly with faculty and advisor and submit work for their senior art exhibition.
These courses lead up to  being approved in taking ART 498 Senior Thesis Exhibition. The senior exhibition must consist of a cohesive body of work consisting of 15 or more works based on this approved theme and all must be reviewed and approved by VCDMA faculty.

This proposal  must be approved before taking ART 498 Senior Thesis Exhibition. Students are also required to maintain a sketchbook during their matriculation at Bowie State University. Please refer to VCDMA thesis proposal guidelines and requirements for assistance and directions for typing the thesis proposal.

VCDMA Faculty must approve this proposal before a student can take the course and/or mount their final show. This proposal must demonstrate a specific theme, concept or area of focus within a student’s given concentration and area of research, and successful mastery in the artwork as well as writing for and about the work; and again in an area of discipline specific to VCDMA.

These items should be submitted with portfolio at least one semester prior to taking Art 498, and must be approved by at least (1-2) full-time VCDMA faculty members, including the VCDMA Program Coordinator or Academic Advisor. Students must also plan their final exhibition with permission and approval of Gallery Director, and follow all requirements for mounting a professional exhibition in the BSU Gallery.

Students are also required to complete a final assessment of their senior show, exit survey and final portfolio review in order to meet graduation requirements. Students who fail to adhere to this policy may be in jeopardy of not graduating or in being asked to leave the program. 

Note: VCDMA reserves the right to retain student work samples for the archive and for use in the online via the program website, in print in marketing and also in physical galleries.  Students may be required to leave 1-2 or  more finished works of art/images, fashion, film, etc. from the VCDMA program, exhibitions, etc. for the promotion and advertising of the program to prospective students and the public.

Final Portfolio Review and Assessment

As part of graduation requirements VCDMA students must submit a final portfolio that consists of 15 or more professional quality works to be proposed for ART 498 and their senior exhibition. All work for the final senior portfolio must be submitted early, or no later than the midterm of the preceding semester (before graduation) for review. 

 A portfolio review form must be provided with each digital portfolio on a CD-R or DVD, as well as a link to students’ online portfolio.  Be sure to visit and get useful information on portfolio tips, careers as well as internships and careers on the VCDMA Resource page on the DFPA website.

Senior Thesis and Exhibition Requirements

1.  Senior Thesis Proposal: All VCDMA Students are required to work with VCDMA faculty complete a senior thesis project based on an approved area of  research within their specific major area and concentration and based on a specific area of concentration and based on proposed final exhibition and theme. All VCDMA Students are required to submit a minimum 2-page, typed proposal (with additional sketches, maquettes, storyboards, mood boards or fashion patterns, etc., online and physical portfolio, blog, documentation, evidence of research/creative work, sketchbook)– based on a specific area of concentration and based on proposed final exhibition and theme before taking ART 498.

***  Students should refer to Thesis Proposal Guidelines & Requirements documents for assistance and directions for typing the thesis proposal. Students should this information from their advisor or program coordinator).

2. Senior Thesis Exhibition: A final senior show based on the approved proposal and evidence of research (blog), portfolio is required and all students must mount/screen a successful senior exhibition and/or screening to complete graduation requirements. The entire body of senior thesis exhibition work must be approved and completed a minimum of one semester prior to taking ART 498, one year before is highly suggested.  Students are also required to maintain a sketchbook and blog during their matriculation at Bowie State University. ART 498 is offered in the spring semester.

VCDMA Faculty must approve this senior thesis proposal (typed) before a student can take the course and/or mount their final show. This proposal must demonstrate a specific theme, concept or area of focus within a student’s given concentration and area of research, and successful mastery in the artwork as well as writing for and about the work; and again in an area of discipline specific to VCDMA

Internship and/or Apprenticeship

Students are also required to complete an internship or apprenticeship in their respective field by taking ART 491 Internship in Art & Visual Communication, in their respective career field prior to meet requirements for graduation. It is required students complete more than (1) one, approved internship in their chosen field, in fact 2-5 internship experiences are highly suggested.

Students should also seek and develop relationships and network with professional mentors in the industry/major or concentration; students should also attend professional workshops, portfolio reviews, career days and more on and off campus. Students will work closely with VCDMA Internship Coordinator and BSU Career Services Office, to identify internship and future employment opportunities. Please note that successfully passing ART 491 is a requirement for graduation.

NOTE: Failure to correct any deficiency, maintain a 2.0 or better in all major courses, and/or multiple, failed portfolio reviews will be considered grounds for students to leave the VCDMA program. Also, grounds for failure or not graduating with will be based on class performance, demonstration of skills and a successful senior thesis exhibition; internship experience and final portfolio. Failure to adhere to any of these requirements will be considered as factors in being removed from the VCDMA program and not graduating.                                                                

Juried Student Art Exhibitions

All VCDMA Students are required to submit quality artwork to the juried student art exhibitions each semester and be juried or have selected into one (1) exhibition per year, for a total of four (4) exhibitions prior to graduation. It also suggested that VCDMA students should also submit digital art, design, videos, animation, media, etc. to various local and national art/design and/or media competitions or exhibitions.

DFPA, VCDMA and related activities and events

Students are expected to participate in DFPA, ART and/or VCDMA (campus) related activities including theatrical, musical, and/or dance performances, lectures, film screenings, exhibitions, workshops, conferences, recitals, etc. as well as off campus events such as field trips, conferences, studio/museums/gallery visits and more, that further enrich the academic and artistic experience.

Suggested additional coursework

It is also highly recommended (not required) that students take additional courses in English, Business/Marketing, Computer Science and/or Communication as necessary. For example if students pass ECON 212 they could then take
an additional MKTG 330 Consumer Behavior or MKTG Retailing (both not required). These courses will further assist students in developing and mastering technical and research skills, as well as skills in effective written and verbal communication.



The Artist Guild is a creative arts organization for students studying Art and VCDMA, but is open to all other students who are interested in promoting the visual arts. One of the guild’s purposes is to raise and maintain a high standard of quality of visual art, design, and visual communication, networking with art and design professionals, and to produce awareness in visual arts on campus, with other institutions and HBCU’s, and throughout the community. Membership in the Artist Guild is highly suggested for all Art/ VCDMA students.


Founded in 1914 as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design and is now known simply as “AIGA, the professional association for design.” AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates,  we bring together practitioners, enthusiasts and patrons to amplify the voice of design and create the vision for a collective future. We define global standards and ethical practices, guide design education, inspire designers and the public, enhance professional development, and make powerful tools and resources accessible to all. BSU and VCDMA is proud to be an official student group of AIGA (DC Chapter). We invite all VCDMA, ART majors and others to join AIGA.


Students are also encouraged to join and participate in regular workshops, meetings, salons, presentations (on and off campus) sponsored by arts/design or media related organizations such as: the American Graphics Arts Association (AIGA) - DC Chapter. Other organizations include: The Art Director’s Club of DC, Black Artists of DC, American Animator’s Association (ASIFA), The National Conference of Artists (NCA), College Arts Association (CCA), Association of Independent Video & Filmmakers (AIVF), Washington Project for the Arts, Harlem Fashion Row, DC Fashion Chamber of Commerce, The One Club and the National Alliance of Artists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (NAAHBCU), SIGGRAPH, Women in Film and Video and many more. Many local designers, digital and traditional artists, animators and filmmakers regularly visit the VCDMA program and the DFPA to give participate in career days, exhibitions, guest lectures, conduct workshops and portfolio reviews.




    Bachelor of ScienceMinorBachelor of Arts

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