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Corcoran College of Art and Design


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George Washington University's (G.W.) Corcoran School of the Arts and Design provides students with an unparalleled artistic experience in their capital. As a city recognized as the national epicenter for historic and culturally diverse social movements, Washington, D.C., provides a rich palette for the inspiration of thought-provoking, meaningful art across a wide variety of media—including photojournalism, graphic Design, mixed media, and more.
Through its connection to G.W.'s academic enterprise, Corcoran students are enriched by the breadth and depth of learning opportunities associated with our programs in the humanities, sciences, engineering, and business. The affiliation prepares young artists for exciting careers in today's "creative economy," offering undergraduates tools of the trade, entrepreneurial expertise, and a network of enviable resources and internship opportunities. Students also benefit from interaction with world-renowned artists and faculty whose influence in their respective fields is far-reaching.
Today's art school graduates earn exciting jobs in what is now being called the "creative economy." That is if they are not inventing jobs for themselves. New skillsets are valued in the 21st-century job market, and innovative education is one of the best ways to acquire them. George Washington University's (G.W.) Corcoran School of the Arts and Design prepares students for careers at some of the most prestigious companies and institutions, including National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, Apple, Harper's Bazaar, Knoll, MTV, Design Within Reach, Tiffany & Co., Gensler, Conde Nast, PBS, Museum of Modern Art, The New York Times, The Washington Post and hundreds of others.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs offer rich, expansive, and uniquely integrated academic curricula grounded in real-world experiences. Our graduate students work with faculty comprised of some of the leading experts in art and Design and can take advantage of the extraordinary cultural resources available in Washington, D.C.
William Wilson Corcoran, a Washington, D.C. based merchant and banker, founded the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1869. Corcoran began his gallery with much of his collection, which formed one of the first major, publicly accessible art collections in the nation's capital. The gallery - initially housed in a building on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street N.W. - was a draw for D.C. residents, visitors, and even aspiring artists.
By the 1870s, semi-formal lessons were being offered by artists in the gallery. In 1878, Corcoran decided to donate additional funds to the institution to found an art school associated with the gallery. At the time of Corcoran's death in 1888, the gallery and the school had outgrown the James Renwick building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Using raised funds and Corcoran's estate proceeds, the Corcoran Board of Trustees oversaw a large Beaux-Arts building on 17th Street, three blocks from the original Renwick gallery. This new building, designed by Ernest Flagg, opened to great fanfare in 1897 and absorbed both the gallery and the art school. The building - and collection - expanded again in 1928 with the William A. Clark collection acquisition.
The school continued to evolve, receiving accreditation with the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) in the mid-1970s. In 1999, a reorganization brought about a new name: the Corcoran College of Art + Design. In 2014, as the Corcoran Gallery ceased operations, the school became part of neighboring George Washington University's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. At that time, the university committed to maintaining the original Corcoran mission to support the arts and assumed responsibility for the building's necessary renovations.
In 2015, a new School Director was named. Sanjit Sethi, a practicing artist and accomplished nonprofit leader, began guiding the Corcoran into a new chapter in it's long and storied history. Renovations to the historic Flagg Building have been underway since 2015, and 2017 marked a new period of growth for the Corcoran as the G.W. departments of Fine Arts & Art History, Museum Studies, Music, Theatre & Dance, and Interior Architecture joined the Corcoran School, laying the foundations for a new cultural hub at G.W., and Washington, D.C.
This year we also welcome back works of art from the Corcoran Gallery to serve as the foundation of a rich research collection available to students, faculty, and the public. This spring, we welcomed the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery to the Flagg building's first floor this summer, along with exhibitions like Lone Prairie and Bridging Boundaries. Currently, the Corcoran is proud to exhibit "Spiked: The Unpublished Political Cartoons of Rob Rogers," which displays the original, unpublished editorial cartoons of Rob Rogers, alongside larger, colorized versions the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette withheld from publication before Roger's dismissal in June 2018.
We look forward to hosting a series of conversations regarding issues around freedom of the press in collaboration with the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and G.W.'s School of Media and Public Affairs this fall.
Since integrating into G.W., the Corcoran School of Art and Design is undergoing a multi-dimensional transformation, while still maintaining founder William Wilson Corcoran's vision of a place dedicated to the art and for the "purpose of encouraging the American Genius." I am deeply impressed by the work and accomplishments of our faculty, students, and alumni this year, and I look forward to the continued flourishing of our school.

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