The School of Contemporary Arts provides an understanding of the established traditions in the Fine Arts and Communication Arts while simultaneously preparing students to embrace new means of expression. The School, which is inherently interdisciplinary in its structure and its goals, recognizes the interconnectedness of the arts in contemporary society and encourages students to develop and communicate ideas in multiple media. Excellent instruction in the visual, communication, theatrical, and musical arts takes place in small studio, lab, seminar, and discussion settings, as well as through activities outside the classroom environment. Practical experience, public presentation, and reflection are integrated into the educational process in many ways, such as through Internships and Cooperative learning assignments, play production, musical performance and recording, visual arts production and exhibition, and the production and viewing of video, film, and design.
The School’s faculty are dedicated teachers, nationally known for their artistic and professional achievements and scholarly work. Some have won awards from such major art funding sources as the National Endowment for the Arts, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Kellogg Foundation. In addition to the full-time faculty, the school has attracted many working artists and media professionals to teach as adjunct faculty to serve as guest directors and designers or to inspire our students as artists in residence.
The School of Contemporary Arts offers five majors: Communication Arts, Music, Theater, Visual Arts, and the Contemporary Arts Contract Major (an interdisciplinary major that enables students to develop individualized programs that correspond to their special interests and career goals). These programs lead to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Minors are available in Music and Theater.
Contemporary Arts students are actively involved with “The Ramapo News,” the college newspaper, WRPR (90.3 FM), the college radio station, and RCTV, the student club for television/video production. Others participate in the Ramapo Chorale, the Gospel Chorus, or Visual Artists Society, a student club dedicated to nurturing the artistic process and presenting visual work. Many students hold paid positions that support the work of the School, such as Art Gallery monitors, computer lab technicians and monitors, film/video studio and equipment check-out staff, and costume shop staff, scenery shop and sculpture studio technicians. In addition, many students are hired each year to support professional performing arts events as theater technicians, box office staff and ushers.
The School is housed in the Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts, featuring state-of-the-art theater, music, and visual arts spaces, and in newly-renovated facilities in C and H wings, which provide a professional quality television studio and audio studio, digital imaging and writing labs, a Final Cut Pro editing lab, a field production classroom, and private editing suites. Additionally, the School occupies a free-standing sculpture studio complex. Students benefit from the professional performing arts programming on campus which includes music, dance, and theater performances in the Sharp Theater, and from the visual arts exhibitions in the College Art Galleries, which focus on contemporary art in changing exhibitions, and which feature one of the foremost collections of works from the Americas and the Caribbean in the permanent collection.
The School of Contemporary Arts encourages students to engage in internships and cooperative education experiences. External placements are facilitated in graphic and web design, print journalism, radio, television, professional theater, art galleries and museums, etc. Organizations where our students have been placed include Minolta, Sharp Electronics, Sony, WNET-TV, WABC-TV, WWOR-TV, Cablevision, The Bergen Record, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Roundabout Theater Company, the Joseph Papp Public Theater, and others. In addition to hands-on training, students receive degree credits for their experiences.