Department of Art & Design

See what Design students say about art and faith at Northwestern:

Why Study Art at Northwestern?

It is crucial for modern Christian artists to rise to the challenge and become strong voices within the visual and fine arts.

As an art or design student at University of Northwestern, you'll learn to speak the language of art and refine your artistic edge while becoming a culture-maker who can influence the world of art—and make a living—by developing your God-given creativity and faith.

What you can expect at Northwestern...

  • Small class sizes – means personalized attention
  • Accessibility – you can see and approach faculty anytime
  • Great location for artists – Minneapolis/St. Paul is one of the best locations for art and design!
  • Active in the community – our faculty are respected artists in the Twin Cities and beyond
  • Customize your major to fit your interests – we'll work with you to help you articulate and achieve your goals
  • A community of artists – we want everyone to connect with each other and to the world around them, not to retreat within themselves

 Take Your Art Out of the classroom

Show your work at the Denler Gallery 

The Denler Art Gallery features student exhibitions as well as traveling exhibits by professional artists from around the world. As an art or design student, you'll have the opportunity to participate in the art shows and feature your creative work!

Annual Juried Student Exhibition

This highlight event showcases work made by Northwestern art and design students. The exhibition is juried by an acclaimed artist and the top student artwork is honored with awards.

Study Art Around the World

Every year the department embarks on a study-abroad travel experience. Past trips have included London, Paris, Berlin, Egypt, Italy, Chicago, New York, Germany, Norway and Greece.


Northwestern Artists Making News

Cody Henrichs '11 receives award from International Sculpture Center

While completing his M.F.A. degree at the Rhode Island School of Design, Cody Henrichs received the prestigious International Sculpture Center: 2013 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture. 

Alumnus Jeremiah Humphries illustrates book, published to rave reviews

"A promising debut that families that celebrate Christmas will likely enjoy. The gorgeous illustrations of Santa, Mrs. Claus, their dog, Blazer, and the pointy-hatted elves will make older readers pore over the details, and young readers will be delighted by the story. The story's lesson may also help get children involved in taking care of indoor Christmas trees" - Kirkus Reviews

"The story is lovely; the illustrations are stunning; and the plot is extremely unique. This is one that should definitely be added to your Christmas reading list, so Blink the Christmas Tree Elf can become a family tradition!" - Amy Lignor, Feathered Quill Book Review

"Sure to become a favorite among the young set...This book has garnered many excellent reviews and recommendations. You can add mine." -

Prof. Luke Aleckson included in 2013 Minnesota Biennial of Art

The Minnesota Biennial of Art is held every two years to highlight the most compelling visual art being made in Minnesota t the time. Professot Luke Aleckson is one of 38 artists from Minnesota selected for the 2013 Biennial.

Luke Grothe '10 one of "Ten Artists to Watch in 2013"

Walker Art Center blogger Jehra Patrick highlighted Grothe as a top MN artist among "emerging talents who show promise, authenticity, and sophistication."  His 2011 piece, She Walked Into the Room Dripping Gold, is one of many installations marked by "glitz, gold, fashion, lamé, and late nights." 

Prof. Luke Aleckson installs exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Professor and Gallery Director Luke Aleckson ’02 is featured at the MIA through the end of September 2012.

Art Prof receives $25,000 McKnight Fellowship Grant

Meet art professor and ceramics artist Heather Bren and hear what she has to say about art as worship and how she is developing new artists at Northwestern.

Art major commissions work for St. Paul Chamber Orchestra

NXC Imaging recently commissioned Jane Gulbranson’s painting for the opening night of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. A studio art major with a concentration in painting, Gulbranson spent one month finishing the 36” by 28” oil painting.

With some former ties to NXC Imaging, a provider of medical diagnostic imaging systems that service the Upper Midwest, Gulbranson saw this opportunity as a huge honor. Gulbranson’s painting was featured on the insert in the audience’s program, and her original painting was on display during one of the performances. 

2010 graduate commissioned to create ‘Apostles’ Table’

Studio art graduate Luke Grothe ’10 used Scripture and a rare kind of granite found only in Minnesota to design and create the The Apostles’ Table, a campus water feature for Northwestern.

"A Clear Standout" 

"As a design student at Northwestern, I learned how to 'see' things differently—both literally and on a spiritual level. When I started looking at schools, Northwestern's design department was a clear standout."

Michael Steven Forrest ’12, graphic designer at Relevant Magazine


Jobs our grads hold:
  • Animator
  • Art Director
  • Art Professor / Instructor
  • Art Teacher (K-12)
  • Ceramic Artist
  • Digital Imaging Specialist
  • Gallery Director
  • Graphic Designer
  • Interactive Production Artist
  • Photography Studio Owner
  • Print Production Artist
  • Project Manager
  • Visual Artist
  • Web Site Designer


Take your degree higher

Many of Northwestern's art graduates pursue Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees at top-tier graduate schools:

  • Yale University
  • Cranbrook Academy of Art
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • CalArts
  • Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
  • UCLA


Consider This!

Art: It's Good for Business

In 2004, the Harvard Business Review published an article by Daniel H. Pink entitled, "The MFA is the New MBA," documenting a growing trend in the corporate world: recruiting professional artists instead of hiring people with business degrees.

Now, everyone from Microsoft to General Moters is relying on visual artists for the success of their businesses in an increasingly competitive visual culture.