Name: Associate Professor Cleo House, Chair
Phone: 713.313.7337

The Curriculum

In pursuing the B.A. Degree, students may select from two curriculum tracks of study.  Each of these tracks has specialty areas that students may select from.

The B.A. in Art has seven specialties or specializations including:Art History, Ceramics, Design, Drawing, Painting, Printmaking and Sculpture.

The B.A. in Theatre has two specialties orspecializations available: Performance and Technical Theatre.

In selecting one of these tracks and an associated specialty, students who are first-time degree seekers are not required to declare a minor in a second academic discipline. Instead, they are required to complete 18 semester credit hours in the area of specialization. A minor in theatre is available to students with other majors. The second art degree track allows for a minor and the third allows for teacher certification.
Requirements for the B.A. in Art and Theatre or the B.A. in Art, as well as the two minors offered through this unit, are summarized below with exact requirements dependent upon the track, including specialty, or minor selected.
In considering requirements for the B.A. in Art or Theatre or one of the two B.A. degrees in Art, whether with a minor or certification, students must first be admitted by the University. They must also satisfy all testing requirements, must eradicate deficiencies assessed through the Student Academic Enhance Center (SAEC), must petition the Department for admission as testing requirements are completed and must complete preliminary requirements established by the department for majors, which could include a portfolio review. Further admission and graduation requirements for the Department are considered below. An exit examination is required of all graduating seniors. Art majors produce a one person senior exhibition and theatre majors produce and perform a solo performance. Consult the TSU Bulletin for a complete listing of course curriculums, course descriptions and enrollment sequences.

Individuals interested in seeking certification for teaching in the public or private schools of Texas in academic disciplines offered through the Department should contact the Director of Certification in the College of Education at Texas Southern University for application instructions.

The success of any art major is not solely dependent on the classroom experience. More hours than class meeting times are necessary to complete assignments and to truly develop one’s ability.  Art majors are expected to practice their skills, attend exhibitions and research art related topics outside of class. Every effort is made to allow full time art majors access to the John T. Biggers Art Center outside of posted class meetings, and to comply with Texas Southern University’s policy of facility usage.


Dr. John Biggers, an internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor, founder of TSU’s Art program, and teacher and philosopher, explored his own life and heritage through the study of art at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Hampton, Virginia. Biggers relocated to Houston and established the Art Department at Texas Southern University, where he served as professor for more than 30 years. Dr. Biggers received a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) fellowship in 1957 that enabled him to become one of the first African American artists to visit Africa. His art was profoundly influenced by his direct contact with the wonder of the continent and its people. Dr. Biggers retired from teaching in 1983 and devoted himself exclusively to his art. The works of John Biggers feature prominently in the history of African American art and is included in private collections and museums at home and abroad.
Founders Dr. John T. Biggers, Professor Carroll Harris Simms and Professor Ollington Smith have left unmatchable legacies to the University and made lasting impacts on the Department of Visual and Performing Arts.

The John T. Biggers Art Center is home to a gallery of artwork created by TSU alumni, faculty, prominent visiting artists, and traditional African Art.  This unique collection offers inspiration and motivation in the development of the students’ artistic career.  Visual Art Faculty members are committed to enhancing the learning experience of students by encouraging an awareness of the cultural, historical, and creative identity within each individual. Class lectures and assignments, visiting artists, museum & gallery visits, and participation in class critiques, critical analysis and online and digital art resources are central to student engagement. The study of all phases of art history, drawing, painting and design are core to student success. Mural painting is another unique feature of study at this university where more murals are housed than any other collegiate institution. The Carroll Harris Sculpture Plaza is home to major works by Mr. Simms and like the murals, attracts local, state, national and international visitors to the campus as well as provides enrichment to students, faculty and staff.

Kermit Oliver, world renowned artist and Texas Southern University graduate, class of 1967, is the first and only African American to design scarves for the House of Hermes, Paris. He has for more than 40 years painted nature-and myth-inspired portraits and landscapes rooted in his life as a native Texan, earning public recognition while carefully guarding his privacy. His artwork has been exhibited all over the world, including places such as Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Houston, House of Hermes, Paris, to name a few.


The Ollington Smith Playhouse serves as both the theatre classroom and the main stage for the Theatre Department’s season productions, and other performing arts activities. The Sawyer Auditorium stage is used for larger musical productions. Class lectures by faculty, guest actors and directors, annual theatre retreats, University Players meetings, and the Annual Theatre Award Night are also held in Ollington Smith Playhouse. The Playhouse offers a Black Box atmosphere which allows for an intimate and engaging experience for audiences as well as students. Students who have not been exposed to theatre often find the closeness to the stage an enriching and enlightening experience.

The Theatre Faculty members work as a team to ensure that each student receives the highest standard of theatre craftsmanship in his or her area of concentration. Student productions include a variety of plays, from the Greek classics to such contemporary pieces as Fences by August Wilson. Theatre students are required to have empirical experience in the theatre world by participating in theatre history, performance, technical design, costume and makeup classes, and theatre workshops held in the Ollington Smith Playhouse. Additionally, theatre students have the opportunity to intern at local Houston theatres to enhance their theatre knowledge and skills. The Ollington Smith Playhouse is the artistic laboratory for Theatre majors and minors, where an experienced Faculty provides, theory, training and development.

Ollington E. Smith was a noted theater director. Upon completing his service in WWII, Professor Smith joined the faculty at the then Houston College for Negroes. He served as Chairman of the English Department and the first Chairman of the Department of Speech and Drama. Professor Smith later organized the Theater Department at Texas Southern University. Professor Smith founded the Little Theater and later the University named the new structure after him --- The Ollington Smith Playhouse. Professor Smith was also the founder of the University Players at TSU. 

Thomas Meloncon serves as the Director of the Theatre program at TSU. A nationally known playwright and poet, he is a native of Houston, Texas. He is a proud graduate of Texas Southern University, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism and the Master of Arts Degree in Communications in 1999. He is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Texas Southern University in the Department of Fine Arts, who also serves as TSU’s Theatre Coordinator.