Founded in 1857, San Jose State University is the oldest public university in California. Its Department of Art and Art History offers one of the largest, most diverse, academically accessible, and most highly selective public programs in art and design in the western U.S. It is the only CSU campus offering full BA, BFA, MA, and MFA studies to some 500+ graduates and undergraduate students per semester.
Seymour Rosen: You Haven't Seen Everything Yet!, 2017. Natalie and James Thompson Gallery. Photo by Tran Tran.
Located in San Jose, the most populous city in northern California and the population and psychological center of Silicon Valley, the Department of Art and Art History reflects the entrepreneurial and inventive nature of the region through the development of new programs, innovative collaborations with area corporations, and academic leadership in the fields of art, design, art history, and arts education.
Student exhibitions are complemented by six professional displays in the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery each year; these exhibitions reflect larger issues in the study of art and design, as well as the cultural diversity that is San Jose State. These exhibitions provide a direct link to the curricula of the Departments Art & Art History and Design, to the College of Humanities and the Arts, and more broadly, to the development of a broad understanding of culture and the arts for every member of the San Jose State University community and its surrounding public.
Exhibitions for the Thompson Gallery are generally developed through discussions between the Gallery Director and the Professors within the Departments Art & Art History and Design, so as to ensure that curated projects specifically respond to and complement academic curricula. Working in concert with the faculty and profiting from their wide experiences and connections has enabled the staff to cast a broader and deeper net when conceptualizing and implementing exhibition projects.
Yannick Jacquet: Suite, 2018. Natalie and James Thompson Gallery. Photo by Belden Granada.
The results have been impressive, ranging from cutting edge work by emerging artists utilizing the latest technologies to retrospectives of some of the grand masters of American art; we are proud that, despite our small space, we have been able to organize national tours of certain of our exhibition projects, publish ground-breaking monographs, and win awards for curatorial research and catalogue design. In addition to the broader-based curatorial emphasis, we also produce periodic alumni exhibitions, and each year feature a rotating display of work by faculty members in different program areas so that students can become aware of the professional work of their instructors.