Cleveland Institute of Art: Small and Mighty

If you’re a basketball fan or looking forward to the next Republican National Convention, you already know that Cleveland has been headlining the news lately. For those unaware, LeBron James and the Republicans have each chosen the city to play an important role in their futures. Art students should consider it as well. I toured the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) early this spring, and can tell you that even on a rainy day the sparkle of this small art college was obvious. The institution is perfectly located among some of the city’s greatest cultural icons and uses them to its advantage. Neighbors like the Cleveland Art Museum, Severance Hall, and the Museum of Contemporary Art act as natural extensions of the CIA campus, offering its 570 undergraduates a lot more than what first meets the eye.

CIA student work

CIA student work

The college’s tag line is “Creativity Matters.” Clearly they take this principle seriously, for it’s at the core of the integrated opportunities available here. Students begin with a typical foundations year. During spring semester they prepare a portfolio and apply to a major. Then the fun really begins! Offerings include a full spectrum of fine art and design majors, each with its own creative possibilities. Consider Industrial Design (ID): CIA ID students have the opportunity to explore real world opportunities with Engineering and Computer Science majors of neighboring Case Western Reserve University (Case). Through Case’s think[box], students from diverse backgrounds come together to design, develop, and potentially commercialize their ideas. This is cross fertilization and creativity at its finest! Not interested in ID, but want to reach beyond your art courses? No problem; all CIA students can take Case classes – up to two per year at no additional cost.

Another blended opportunity is Biomedical Art (Biomed). One of only two undergraduate programs in the country, CIA’s Biomed major combines illustration and digital media with biology, anatomy, and histology. As preparation for future careers in botanical or medical fields Biomed students get up close and personal at the nearby Museum of Natural History and Cleveland Botanical Garden, and observe procedures at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

Biomedical Art senior project: Melissa Logies

Biomedical Art senior project: Melissa Logies

Classes and studio space are pretty equally divided between the Gund and McCullough buildings, about a 10-minute walk from each other. Come fall of 2015 that will change, as a “new Gund” is currently under construction next door to McCullough. Students will benefit from new, roomier studio space and easier access to classes.

Another capital improvement is the Uptown Residence Hall, opening this fall. It’s a freshmen only dorm, of two-bedroom, two-bath suites. The good news: each suite is equipped with full drawing tables. The bad news: having your own bathroom means you get to clean it yourself. Upperclassmen have the benefit of their own studios on campus, so their living quarters don’t have a separate drawing area. The college’s dining plan is hosted at Case, and offers options to include purchases at restaurants and grocery stores in the University Circle neighborhood.

CIA is situated in a thriving, energetic neighborhood, and offers a creative environment for students to study and explore. I’d suggest heading to northern Ohio to explore it for yourself.

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