Visual Arts Major at Arts Academy

Why Study Visual Arts

Art is your tool to express, question, and participate in the wider world. It's how you solve problems, inspire others, and stake out a space for yourself. At our boarding arts high school, Interlochen Arts Academy, you'll develop your creativity and prepare for your future as an artist.

What You'll Learn

As a Visual Arts major, you'll take courses on skill-building, techniques, and art history. You'll receive regular individual and group critiques. You'll experiment with different media and art forms like painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, ceramics and pottery, sculpture, metals, fiber arts, fashion design, and more.

You'll learn from practicing artists who have extensive teaching experience. They'll provide mentorship, guidance, and thoughtful feedback, along with individualized instruction to nurture your vision. They will also help you build a portfolio for your life after graduation, whether you plan to pursue a visual arts major in college or chart your own path.

As a student at our boarding school for visual arts, you will:

  • Refine technical skills and use of two-dimensional media
  • Apply a variety of materials and processes to creative problem-solving
  • Analyze the meaning behind material, use of color, composition, space, and placement 
  • Exhibit cognitive awareness of the formal or visual qualities of art and vocabulary, i.e. the elements and principles of design
  • Learn how to document your body of artwork and create a digital platform to promote yourself and your work
  • Take initiative for your artistic practice and be resourceful in finding appropriate materials

How to Apply

Core Curriculum

Portfolio Requirements

For information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.

Meet the Faculty

Our faculty members balance the demands of a career in visual arts with a passion for training the next generation of artists. They've served as museum board members and curators, and exhibited their work in symposiums, galleries, art fairs, and more.

All Faculty

Mindy Ronayne

Melinda Zacher Ronayne

Director of Visual Arts

Conor Fagan

Conor Fagan

Instructor of Visual Arts

Johnson R Hunt

Johnson Hunt

Instructor of Visual Arts

Patty Smith

Patty Smith

Instructor of Visual Arts

Jacob Sussman

Jacob Sussman

Instructor of Visual Arts - Ceramics & Sculpture

London Parker

London Parker


Get to know Dylan

"The Visual Arts Department allows people to take an insane risk and gives them the materials and space to do that." - Dylan, Visual Arts

Guest Artists

  • Robbie Conal poster artist
  • Wendy Froud, sculpter, writer, and puppermaker for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth
  • Susan Goldberg Editor in Chief, National Geographic Magazine
  • Joshua Hagler contemporary visual artist
  • Kenyatta Hinkle interdisciplinary visual artist, performer, and writer
  • Liz Miller installation artist
  • Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum painter, animator, writer, and installation artist
  • Michael Whiting painter and sculptor

Program Highlights

Exhibition Opportunities

As a Visual Arts student, you'll have many opportunities to show your work throughout the year. Student work is displayed in our professional gallery and other prominent locations throughout the visual arts building and around the campus. Some of our regular exhibitions include: the Annual Juried Student Exhibition, Senior Thesis Exhibitions, Festival Exhibition and various visiting artist exhibitions.

Awards & Honors

Our Visual Arts students have been Finalists and Presidential Scholar candidates in the YoungArts Awards, the core program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. They have also received national recognition in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards program, one of the most prestigious competitions for young artists in the country—among other major artistic and educational accomplishments. 

Dow Center for Visual Arts 

During your session, you will learn and create in the Dow Center for Visual Arts, one of the finest facilities dedicated to the study of the visual arts at the high school level. The 36,000 square-foot complex includes separate studios for drawing, painting, metalworking, ceramics, sculpture, photography, printmaking, digital arts, and fibers, as well as a gallery for student, staff, and faculty exhibitions.

College Recruitment

We regularly host top art college and university representatives who offer one-on-one portfolio reviews to Visual Arts majors. Through this engagement, our students make valuable connections and gain critical insights to inform their college education and selection process. 

A girl painting

My time at Interlochen strongly influenced both my personal and artistic development. Being surrounded by peers and faculty, all devoted artists; spending countless hours diving deeply into new concepts in critiques; and maintaining my personal practice have all made for a challenging and amazing four years.

Maud Negreiff '20, Arts Academy (Visual Arts)

Senior Portfolios

The virtual exhibit of our senior thesis projects reveals the creativity, variety, and breadth of our Visual Arts majors. From painting to photography, illustration to interdisciplinary images, each student shares their unique aesthetic.

View Exhibit

College Matriculation

Visual Arts students regularly enroll in top art programs, including:

    • ArtCenter College of Design
    • Alfred University
    • Cleveland Institute of Art and Design
    • Cooper Union
    • Institute of American Indian Arts
    • Maryland Institute College of Art
    • New York University
    • Norwich University of the Arts
    • Northern Michigan University
    • Otis College of Art and Design
    • Pacific Northwest College of Art
    • Parsons School of Design
    • Rhode Island School of Design
    • Ringling College of Arts and Design
    • Savannah College of Art and Design
    • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
    • School of Visual Arts
    • University of California
    • Washington University
    A smiling middle-aged man

    Alumni perspective: How Interlochen helped shape a career in design for Roger Thomas

    How does a rebellious kid with so-so grades end up transforming Las Vegas forever? For Roger Thomas, it was Interlochen. 

    Read Roger's story

    See what you can experience at Interlochen.

    Come to a high school where young creatives thrive—and see how your unique journey unfolds. Plan your visit, request more information, or apply to Interlochen Arts Academy today.