The 36-credit major in Visual Arts includes studio electives in several painting media, calligraphic forms, sculpture, pottery, and photography. Required courses in drawing, world art history, contemplative and studio practice, and professional preparation form the foundation of the degree. Students are mentored in Advanced Studio Practice, Warrior Artist, and Portfolio and Gallery Presentation. The final project includes a digital portfolio, artist's statement, and an exhibition in the Nalanda Art Galleries.
Naropa University's founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, an accomplished artist, taught that art joined with meditative practice educates one's whole being, and that when the artist's mind and body synchronize, art expresses a direct and unselfconscious vitality. This is the power and benefit of art to society, and why contemplation and visual art training are interwoven as the foundation of the Visual Arts program at Naropa. Applied to both traditional and contemporary art forms, these two disciplines are reciprocal: contemplation, or awareness practice, becomes the lens that focuses and brightens visual expression; and artistic practice develops the practical means to promote awareness. Beyond endorsing a technique or style, the Visual Arts major trains students to join inner imagination and outer observation. Students develop confidence in creative vision and the technical proficiency and critical thinking to express that vision. The Visual Arts program offers a Bachelor's of Arts in Visual Arts, as well as a minor and certificate program in Visual Arts, a minor in Film and Media Studies, and a minor in Contemplative Art Therapy.