Ranked in the top 50 schools in the nation in fine art by US News, RIT has a rich tradition of including creativity in what some people think of as a school full of logical computer nerds. Fine Arts classes were offered for the first time by RIT’s predecessor, the Mechanics Institute, in 1886. Classes included freehand drawing, architectural drawing, painting, modeling and design. At this time tuition for the art program was $8 per term for drawing and $12 for painting and modeling. With the success of the program, in 1903 the Fine Arts became one of the school’s original five departments.
The Mechanics Institute offered an assortment of free night classes for the community. The program continued to grow from these humble beginnings and soon became a large part of the community, designing artwork for the front page of the school’s original campus publication, The Institute Breeze, in 1909. By 1960 the first master’s degrees at RIT were awarded from the College of Fine and Applied Arts for fine art.
Over the years the college has grown from fine an applied arts to encompass the new digital age. It has been renamed the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. The old photo above was taken in the early 70s and depicts a vital part of the Fine Arts program, the critique. Over the years the media have evolved and the lighting has changed, but the student critique still sits at the heart of many fine art classes. With over 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate degrees, the college has grown substantially over its long history here at RIT. It is an important part of the community and inspires even the most logical of students to embrace their creative side.