The Art Department at SPU prepares students to pursue a wide range of disciplines — all of them demanding a healthy dose of empathy. To make art and design, or even to successfully talk about art and design, practitioners must develop a self-awareness that helps them tap into the universal human experience. Then they must use empathy to connect with others and determine how that experience can be communicated across persons, cultures, time, and space. Art and design translate deep inner experiences so that they can be shared. Truly successful works of art and design can help connect people who have never met; they can help us realize that all of us, everywhere, are preciously and profoundly human, with the same wounds, the same desires, the same delights, and the same aspirations.
Seattle Pacific University aims to equip all students to understand and interface with the diverse communities of the Pacific Northwest, the United States, and the world. We’re motivated to do this thanks to the Christian conviction that everyone, everywhere, is made in the image of God. The Art Department is an important contributor to that mission. In our work, whether we’re using design to raise awareness of global challenges, paint or film to gain poetic insight into human suffering or research and writing skills to uncover and translate artistic meaning, we proceed with deep respect and, yes, empathy. We hope our students go out into the world a little wiser and a little more compassionate. Ultimately, we have faith that our graduates will be part of the change — part of the Spirit’s yearning for greater peace and harmony in the world.
“For me, the arts are about empathy. And in this time of national and global division, empathy is more important than ever before.”
— Karen Gutowsky-Zimmerman (she/her)
Chair, Art Department Professor + Program Director, Visual Communication Design