How it works

In the Pre-College Program, you will develop your artistic vision and strengthen both your technical skills and your critical thinking. You’ll take college level courses, participate in field trips, and display your work in a final exhibition. And throughout the program, you’ll develop an inside perspective on careers in the arts.

Program Description

The Pre-College Studio Art program is a two-week, intensive course for highly-motivated high school students who wish to experience the life and culture of art college. The program explores traditional tools and new technologies in a variety of media to develop conceptual and technical skills. The program prepares students for applying to competitive college-level art programs. Students experience the life and culture of art college while studying a curriculum that encompasses course content emphasizing art history, foundations of art and portfolio preparation, a studio concentration, field trips, and a final exhibition, as well as Open Studio time.


  • Core: See the world as visual artists do by strengthening your ability to observe, conceptualize, and analyze through artmaking. Explore the methods, materials, and concepts of surface, space, and time-based art.
  • Art History: Evaluate, interpret, and analyze works and develop a strong vocabulary to talk about art. Examine both historical and contemporary trends through slides and group discussions.
  • Creative Writing: Students will learn the importance of the written word to the process and professionalism of an artistic practice. Students participate in exercises that expand their understanding of writing, and will have the opportunity to develop skills that will be helpful aids to their visual work, college application process, and further college curriculum endeavors.
  • Studio Concentrations: Choose one studio concentration to focus in during the program. These courses center around the majors here at Watkins. Students will have the opportunity to learn new and exciting techniques, sharpen skills, and create dynamic portfolio pieces for their college application process.  

Field trips and outings

Once a week, you’ll venture off campus to explore Nashville’s vibrant art and design communities with your professors and classmates. Recent outings have included studio visits, museum tours, and trips to local galleries for conversations with local artists, designers, curators, and dealers.

Final exhibition and reception

To celebrate and showcase your work at the conclusion of the program, you and your classmates will plan and install a group exhibition at Watkins’s Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery. Family and friends are invited to the exhibition and reception.