The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design does not fit one definition. We are instead a community of civically engaged artists and practitioners, aiming to impact the world through social change. Positioned as an incubator for artists within a prominent research university, our students are poised to not just join the creative field of their choice, but to define it for themselves as they become well versed in both practice and research.
We embody and exemplify the Columbian College’s Engaged Liberal Arts credo, which strives to link disparate fields and better prepare our graduates for rich, multidimensional careers in the evolving world we live in. The challenges society faces are diverse, requiring different modes of thought, and we prepare our students by encouraging inquiry and collaboration. While we at the Corcoran School can prepare specialists, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our practice and view ourselves as a place of possibility for students instead of teaching art in a singular way.
With 22 degrees offered, the Corcoran’s programs range from studio arts disciplines such as photography and fine art to performative fields including dance and theatre to scholarly practices like museum studies and art history. Interior Architecture, Museum Studies and Photojournalism are among our most prestigious programs. The Corcoran’s curriculum is also continuing to evolve as we identify new needs in our ever-changing world. Interaction Design and Social Practice are two new programs that our school has introduced within the past two years in order to address trends in emerging fields of study within the art community.
Our vibrant home in D.C. means that our students tap into a nerve center of international culture and government. We have a strong track record for placement with top-ranked employers after graduation, since students can work and study at some of D.C.’s most prestigious companies, galleries, museums and design firms.
The Corcoran is a very welcoming place with a lot of incredibly creative people. Here, our students have a home where they can build their work and then connect it to the larger community at the university and within Washington, D.C.
- Kym Rice, Interim Director
Our history dates back to 1869 when William Wilson Corcoran founded the Corcoran Gallery of Art and has only grown over the decades. We’ve moved into the historic Flagg Building, expanded collections, collaborated with diverse faculty, and become a part of GW and its Columbian College, all while teaching and supporting talented students, the key drivers of our success.
Since integrating into GW, the Corcoran is undergoing a multi-dimensional transformation, while still maintaining our founder’s vision of a place “dedicated to the art and used solely for the purpose of encouraging the American Genius.”
We have welcomed works of art from the Corcoran Gallery collection to serve as the foundation of a rich research collection available to students, faculty and the public. In addition, the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery relocated to the first floor of the Flagg Building in the summer of 2018, and we are looking forward to a partnership with the National Gallery of Art to present installations and maintain a Corcoran Legacy Gallery in the coming years. By opening our school’s facilities to D.C.’s rich reservoir of art, we aim to provide our students with inspiration and professors with invaluable tools to assist their teaching.
In addition to forming new partnerships with galleries, the Flagg Building underwent its first phase of renovations from 2016 to 2018, which centered on health and safety upgrades, massive ADA accessibility improvements, mechanical, electrical, plumbing upgrades and the creation of additional classrooms. Now there will be active pedagogical spaces on every floor of the building—spaces we hope will serve our students well. Corcoran students also have access to a physical computing lab, rapid prototyping studio, upgraded ceramics and metal fabrication areas and flexible student workspaces.
We are also actively seeking new perspectives through initiatives like our Corcoran Faculty Research Groups, the Salon Doré Solutions on Equity Series and the recent launch of an MFA in Social Practice. These enterprises provide opportunities for our institution to engage with a greater community to share ideas on how to solve some of the most pressing challenges of our time.
WHAT WE DO
Corcoran students are encouraged to find their own direction within the diverse expertise included in the school. From performance-based to studio arts and historical to contemporary practices, students will learn a variety of strategies for creativity in our classrooms, through our exhibits, in our city and with our faculty.
As practicing artists, faculty members in the Corcoran School provide firsthand experience to the students they work with. With knowledge on how creative fields function in the real world, they can provide key insights into success, while also pushing students to expand the limits of their work. Leading by example, the faculty also collaborate with peers across the university and the city to enhance their art and the community that takes it in.
HELP US CREATE
There are many ways to help Corcoran students and faculty expand their creative visions and actions, and provide a greater impact as civically engaged artists. From donations to your time, you can largely impact the work that we do and the results it has for years and years to come.