'Take Action: A For Freedoms Exhibition' opening activation in the "Oval Office", a group exhibition highlighting work by Bay Area artists working as creative citizens in their communities

Opening reception for Take Action / A For Freedoms Exhibition. Photo by Josef Jacques.

BFACommunity Arts

Make artwork that challenges conventions, engages communities, and positively impacts society.


Launch your creative practice

Ephemera from the 'All Along the Watchtower' Exhibition at Hubbell Street Galleries showing Bay Area resistance

All Along the Watchtower (installation view, Hubbell Street Galleries), 2018

The Community Arts program teaches you to become a community-engaged artist. Create public art and social impact projects that build bridges between underrepresented groups, nonprofits, and the wider community. With the San Francisco Bay Area as your backdrop, you’ll have access to groundbreaking galleries, design studios, and arts institutions. Our position inside a top art and design college gives you direct access to the materials and tools you’ll need to make a difference.

Studios + Shops

Applied activism and community organizing

mural creation class poses in front of their work at the Children's museum at YBCA

The Community Arts curriculum guides you through critical theory, art history, and art and design courses that relate to your particular interests. You’ll have opportunities to investigate real challenges by combining studio skills and social engagement strategies. From launching pop-up shops and teaching for local nonprofits to painting murals and staging art interventions, you’ll do it all. You’ll also collaborate with students in the Individualized Studies and Sculpture programs, analyzing complex political and social issues through the eyes of an artist and researcher.

CCA fine arts students lead a "Capitalism Exorcism" activation in the Hubbell Street Galleries.

Externships with local partners

You’ll stay politically and socially active throughout their studies. Our paid externships, which are non-credit learning experiences, place students with local nonprofits, arts organizations, and other CCA partners. This gives you an insider’s look at what it takes to launch a community-based project from start to finish.

Immersed in the community art practice

  • Organize collective art experiments
  • Explore investigative journalism and podcasting
  • Practice critique with visiting artists and lecturers
  • Connect with local, national, or international groups
  • Develop research skills for contextualizing work
  • Tailor studio electives to your specific interests


Socially engaged artists

Our faculty are professional artists whose expertise spans architecture, experimental archival practices, large-scale installation, multimedia, printmaking, and more. Their work often engages with the social politics of public spaces, environmental justice, and human rights. Students draw from their diverse perspectives to refine studio work and generate creative solutions that address real-world needs.

Headshot of Peter Simensky.

Peter Simensky, Chair of Community Arts

Chair Peter Simensky is an experienced educator and interdisciplinary artist. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Museum 52, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; and Project Row Houses, Houston, to name a few. The recipient of numerous grants, residencies, and awards, Simensky has also been featured in group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. Recently, he produced work and research on the silver mining industry in Taxco, Mexico, as an artist-in-residence at La Tallera: Proyecto Siqueiros.


We think with our hands

Build a creative practice for the public sphere

Community Arts at CCA combines the art and design concentrations of your choice, such as painting and woodworking, with diverse areas of critical theory. Courses give you the skills you need to generate creative solutions that address real-world challenges and make art in a variety of social and public contexts. View sample courses.

Investigate ideas through every dimension

Before diving into their chosen major, every undergraduate participates in the First Year Experience. Students explore a wide range of materials and tools over the course of two semesters. Faculty from different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and theoretical discussions, setting students up for success throughout their major coursework.

BFA Community Arts

Core Studio

Drawing 1
3.0 units
2D, 3D, and 4D
9.0 units

Community Arts Major Requirements

Introduction to Community Arts
3.0 units
Community Practice 1 and 2
6.0 units
Approved Digital Tools Course
3.0 units
Studio Art Concentration (2000 level)
6.0 units
Studio Art Concentration (3000 level)
6.0 units
Community Practice Workshop
6.0 units
Creating an Arts Organization
3.0 units
Junior Tutorial
3.0 units
Senior Thesis
6.0 units

Additional Studio Requirements

Upper Division Interdisciplinary Studio
3.0 units
Interdisciplinary Critique
3.0 units
Critical Ethnic Studies Studio
3.0 units
Studio Electives
9.0 units

Humanities & Sciences Requirements

Writing 1
3.0 units
Writing 2
3.0 units
Introduction to the Arts
3.0 units
Introduction to the Modern Arts
3.0 units
Foundation in Critical Studies
3.0 units
Media History: Community Arts
3.0 units
Critical Ethnic Studies Seminar (2000 level)
3.0 units
Literary and Performing Arts Studies (2000 level)
3.0 units
Philosophy and Critical Theory (2000 level)
3.0 units
Social Science/History (2000 level)
3.0 units
Science/Math (2000 level)
3.0 units
History of Art and Visual Culture (2000 level)
3.0 units
Humanities and Sciences Electives (2000 or 3000 level, at least 6 units must be 3000 level)
12.0 units

Total 120.0 units


Community-engaged artists

Our students combine real-world experiences, fine arts skills, and insightful critical thinking to explore issues of power dynamics and social equity. Alumni continue their studies in master’s programs, start their own nonprofits, and become arts educators at colleges and museums. They graduate from our program eager to make an impact in a variety of social and public contexts.

Potential career paths

  • Educator
  • Public artist
  • Arts administrator
  • Visual artist
  • Civic leader
  • Community activist
  • Museum or gallery administrator

News + Events

What’s happening in our community?

How to Apply

Artistic expression meets social practice

MFA Fine Arts students chatting during Open Studios, 2017

Our students are interested in combining their love for fine arts and social practice. They view community collaboration as a transformative process. By working closely with professional artists, socially engaged partners, and individuals, they can launch community initiatives that make art and empowering ideas accessible to everyone.

Find your creative community at CCA

Apply now