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Early on in childhood, we are taught to treat the visual arts as a hobby. Once we start grade school, it becomes an extracurricular: an add-on to our education. By high school, art has become, for many of us, just a class that meets once or twice a week and guarantees an easy A. By college, we might take a class about art, but most of us throw the practice of visual art to the wayside. Education in the visual arts is marginalized, as visual art itself is not essential to our “real” education. Even I, a prospective art history major, find myself proffering excuses for why I want to study art: “I can go into, like, museum work or something...” Silence. “It really is an applicable major. I mean, it's no econ...”

Yet in the very same “real” world in which we claim visual arts education has no place, visual art gains importance as we become increasingly dependent on visual modes of communication. What is an ad with no image, or a BuzzFeed list with no gifs?

In this week's lead, Suze Myers examines how the undergraduate visual art programs at Columbia and Barnard differ from visual art programs in other academic and artistic institutions, and explores the benefits and disadvantages of studying the visual arts in a liberal arts environment. Perhaps this hybrid education is a step along the way to a new approach to arts education—one more in tune with the value art has today.

We hope you enjoy our arts themed issue, and all the art—literary and visual—it has in store. 

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