A fine arts student at Mount Mercy University is trained to be an excellent problem solver – a treasured skill in many avenues of today's marketplace. Technical instruction using a variety of tools and materials, emphasis on personal visual expression and a strong conceptual base are the foundation stones for this department. Introductory and advanced classes are offered in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional media, including: Design, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Ceramics, Fiber Arts, New Genres, Jewelry, Art History, and the annual January Mexican Art & Culture travel course. Fine Arts students generally take more advanced courses in their areas of interest as they work toward their senior Exhibitions and to applying for graduate school or jobs.
Research shows we are all creative, visual problem-solvers to begin with. We all have the same brain structure to begin with, but things can atrophy if not used, just like an arm in a cast. If you don't practice visual thinking or creative problem-solving, visual self-expression or direct observation, you'll lose your abilities in these areas.
Studying the visual arts, then, encourages looking for multiple solutions and promotes what Howard Gardner labels as multiple intelligences, verbal/linguistic, visual/spatial, logical, mathematical. Education in the visual arts develops multiple forms of literacy, including visual literacy. Visual literacy gives us access to 'cultural capital'. It can also help develop verbal literacy.
In a recent study, Karen Dejarnette concluded that when students were given a drawing/writing assessment, they achieved higher scores for content knowledge when they both wrote and drew than when they only wrote. In fact, National Education Association (NEA) studies support that the SAT verbal scores and the math scores for students who have had high school visual arts courses are increased significantly over their peers who have not had art classes. One study of students who studied "the basics" using a visual thinking curriculum found that students involved scored much higher in evidential reasoning than those in the control group.
In his book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, New York Times writer Daniel Pink gives substantial support that as white collar jobs go overseas, businesses are looking for MFA (Master of Fine Arts) graduates with a liberal arts background over business grads for their top administrative and creative positions.