The Visual Arts department will be closed by the beginning of the fall 2014 semester as part of the department changes announced in September 2012.

The department – which offers a joint major with the Art History department as well as a minor – will officially close at the end of this semester but will offer two classes, Introduction to Painting and Introduction to Sculpture, during the summer semester.

Next year, the Art History department will absorb some Visual Arts classes, including Foundations in Art Practices, according to Chair of the Visual Arts department Linda Armstrong.

“The Visual Arts department is graduating top-notch seniors,” Armstrong said. “I am very sad that the Visual Arts department is closing.”

Armstrong and Kerry Moore, director of undergraduate studies for the department, will be joining the Art History department next year as senior lecturers.

Ceramics Professor Diane Kempler will be retiring, and Julia Kjelgaard, who specializes in Drawing and Painting, will be leaving Emory due to the department’s closure.

“We’re delighted to be bringing these talented artists on board and consider them integral to our department’s growing interest in Technical Art History, the historical study of art materials and workshop practices,” Chair of the Art History department Walter Melion said.

The Visual Arts building, located  off of Peavine Creek Drive near Chappell Park, holds a variety of studio classrooms. Because Emory will no longer be offering ceramics education, the department’s ceramics studio will be turned into a filming studio, according to Armstrong.

The building also houses the Visual Arts Gallery, which has previously showcased contemporary art work by artists such as Stephen Marc, Sanford Biggers and John Grade and will be closing at the end of the summer. The Gallery also hosts annual Visual Arts student art exhibitions, and the opening reception for this year’s student art exhibition, which features 10 students, will be held on Thursday, April 24 at 5 p.m.

Other College organizations are working to ensure that the arts at Emory do not diminish after the Visual Arts department’s closing. According to a statement issued from the Emory College Center for Creativity & Arts (CCA) Director Leslie Taylor, the CCA is in the process of “finalizing an academic program that will incorporate studio art foundations with applied and conceptual electives” in order to support visual arts as a component of Emory’s liberal arts education.

“I think that visual arts has a special place in a liberal arts education,” Goizueta Business School senior and Visual Arts joint-major Wilma Qiu said. “Liberal arts is designed as a well-rounded education, and visual arts is irreplaceable in its creativity, innovation and ability to express yourself visually. I think it’s hard for other majors to replicate that.”

– By Sonam Vashi