Art and Design offers new gen eds

GVL / Courtesy Professor Virginia (Jinny) Jenkins

GVL / Courtesy Professor Virginia (Jinny) Jenkins

Marissa LaPorte

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Grand Valley State University’s department of art and design is now offering art and design courses that are available as general education credits for all students. No matter what majors or minors students have, they are able to take these courses and add a little knowledge of art to their background.

Drawing Fundamentals (ART 159) fulfills the Foundation Arts general education requirement. This course gives non-art and design majors an opportunity to take art and design courses while receiving the general education credits they need.

Virginia Jenkins, professor and department chair of the department of art and design, teaches Drawing Fundamentals. Jenkins said art and design is relevant to all students, not solely art majors.

“Art is something that you apply to your life every day,” Jenkins said. “We all live in a world that is dominated by design. We have design and images everywhere: our phones, our computer screens, the clothes that we wear. Learning what elements and principles are used to make a good design can be very helpful in making choices about how one wants to live their life and what sorts of materials and situations one would like to be surrounded by.”

For two years, Drawing Fundamentals was a 200-level course before becoming the general education course it is now, Jenkins said.

Bill Hosterman, who also teaches ART 159 at GVSU, said courses such as this one are put through a test run for a couple semesters to see how popular they are, if there is staff to teach them and if they can be proposed as a full-time class. ART 159 is now a full-time class, and it is available in GVSU’s course books on a regular basis.

Hosterman said general education courses like ART 159 are great for non-art majors that have an interest in art or learning more about it.

“(Non-majors) come at (the course) from a different angle,” Hosterman said. “They are doing it simply for the idea of getting the information and appreciating the idea of drawing and drawing from life.”

Jenkins said students taking her class are able to make connections to other areas of their lives outside of the classroom. She said students are always using critical thinking when they approach new projects.

“Art is a way of discovering things about ourselves,” Jenkins said. “It’s a way of making connections because as you work on a piece, especially in a studio, you’re having to think about making those choices, and why you want to make those choices, and what things are driving and motivating you.”

Hosterman said there is something unique about teaching non-majors because they chose to take the class rather than being required to do so. These students typically come in wanting to get everything they can out of the course.

Hosterman said teaching ART 159 has been a rewarding experience for him as a professors because the students end up teaching him something new. Hosterman said students benefit from the clarity of the class rather than in other art classes where common concepts of art and design might not be explained as much as it is in ART 159.

“I have to explain everything,” Hosterman said. “I can’t assume that they know about a certain idea of drawing because they probably haven’t had (other drawing classes).”

GVSU offers many other art and design courses that fulfill general education credits and are open to all students. For a full list of these courses, visit