The Arts at Pomona
The Pomona College Museum of Art offers a wise range of exhibits, which include lectures and related programs.
Pomona has a long and rich history of supporting the arts through its curriculum and event programming. Artists find endless opportunities for expression at Pomona, both in their studies and extracurricularly, in the fields of visual art, music, theatre and dance.
Pomona offers both majors and minors in studio art, and students have the chance to take classes in traditional media like drawing, painting and photography, as well as more unique classes like Computer Programming for Art, Documentary Photography, Installation: Art and Context, and 21st Century Sculpture: Electronics, Manufacturing and Mechanisms. Student artists have the chance to exhibit their work at a junior and senior exhibition, as well as at periodic shows in the Smith Campus Center gallery.
Art history majors work in a joint art history program through Pomona, Scripps and Pitzer that looks at European, North American, African, African Diaspora, Native American and Asian topics.
The fine art collections of Pomona College are housed in the Pomona College Museum of Art, located in the Montgomery Center of Art. Among its holdings—selections of which are displayed on a rotating basis—are all four of Francisco de Goya’s etching series and more than 5,000 examples of Pre-Columbian to 20th-century Native American art and artifacts.
The museum also brings to campus each year a wide range of exhibits, both historical and contemporary, designed to complement the College’s curricula. Recent exhibitions have featured photographs by Andy Warhol, a collaborative book by Raymond Pettibon, and a cut-paper installation by Kara Walker, named one of the 100 most influential figures in the art by Time in 2007. All exhibitions open with public receptions and include lectures and related programs for the College community.
Throughout the exhibition season, the Project Series, organized by Rebecca McGrew, presents Southern California artists in one-gallery exhibitions. The purpose of the series is to bring to the Pomona College campus art that is experimental; that introduces new forms, techniques, or concepts; or that may be difficult to show in other venues. During each exhibition, participating artists spent time on campus working with faculty and students in relevant disciplines.
The Pomona Student Art Gallery in the Smith Campus Center is dedicated to the display of student photography, painting, ceramics, sculpture, mixed media and electronic works.
Pomona is also home to several notable public art pieces, including Skyspace by James Turrell ’65, a precisely designed architectural installation that heightens the viewer's awareness of light, sky and the activity of perception, a form for which Turrell is renowned, and two major murals in Frary Dining Hall, Prometheus (1930) by José Clemente Orozco and Genesis (1950) by Rico Lebrun.
Each year, nearly 500 Pomona students participate in the Department of Music. Many of these students participate through numerous ensembles including choir, symphony orchestra, band, glee club, jazz ensemble, various chamber groups, Balinese Gamelan, and a second rotating non-Western ensemble.
At Pomona, music majors and minors are expected to integrate their studies in performance, theory and musicianship, music history and ethnomusicology. They gain basic technical and conceptual competence in an instrument or voice, through private lessons; a knowledge of music and music literature; the ability to integrate musical knowledge and skills; sensitivity to Western and non-Western musical styles; and an insight into the role of music in intellectual and cultural life.
Private lessons are given by faculty specialists in voice, organ, piano, harpsichord, violin, viola, violoncello, string bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba and euphonium, guitar, timpani and percussion, and harp.
The Department of Music offers a varied calendar of performances, lectures and master classes--free of charge--by visiting artists, faculty and students throughout the academic year. These programs present a wide range of experiences for both students and community members, blending new music and old, with Western and non-Western traditions. The department also presents the Friday Noon Concert Series at Balch Auditorium on Scripps Campus where Pomona and Scripps Colleges' faculty and friends perform together in lunchtime concert.
Recent events include the annual Ussachevsky Memorial Electronic Music Festival, a bluegrass concert with Grammy award-winning fiddler Richard Greene, The Millennium Consort Singers led by famed organist and conductor Martin Neary, and Japanese drummer Kenny Endo.
Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music has historically been the center of musical activities at the College and is considered one of the campus’s architectural gems. The Hall is two-sided with its auditorium on the north and an elongated, U-shaped courtyard (Lebus Court) on the south end.
In fall 2001, Bridges emerged from a 13-month, $5.2 million renovation—its first since 1971—that included a restored ceiling and new pipe organ. The most dramatic change, however, was acoustic. Modifications to ensure the Hall has excellent acoustics for every kind of music, from solo musicians to orchestras, included a new acoustical structure above the ceiling, glazing and adjustable banners for windows, reshaped walls, reinstalled balcony wainscoting, and newly designed chairs that allow waves to pass through and reflect off the floor.
The Thatcher Music Building includes offices and studios for the Music Department; Bryant Hall for orchestra and band; the Victor Montgomery Music Library; the Electronic Music Studio; practice rooms; KSPC 88.7, the college FM-radio station; and a recital facility, the Ralph H. Lyman Hall.
Pomona’s music buildings contain outstanding pipe organs. Bridges Hall of Music houses the Hill Memorial Organ, a three-manual organ built by C.B. Fisk, and Thatcher has a two-manual Moeller practice organ, a three-manual Von Beckerath organ, and a 10-rank Flentrop tracker-action practice organ. Additionally, the College is an all-Steinway school and the department boasts nearly 50 pianos, including 16 seven-foot pinaos and four nine-foot concert grand pianos.
The Pomona College Theatre Department for The Claremont Colleges is the only five-college theatre department in the country. It continues a lively tradition of studying and producing world theatre. All students may participate as performers, playwrights, designers, dramaturges, backstage crew, directors and/or audience members.
Curriculum for theatre majors and minors includes the study of theatre history and dramatic literature; performance; and design and technology. A regular schedule of student- and faculty-directed plays and one-acts is presented throughout the year, and each semester, students present senior projects in which they are involved as actor, director, designer, or playwright. All productions provide opportunities for students to work behind the scenes as well as on stage.
Recent productions include: Shakespeare’s Richard II, Luis Valdez's Zoot Suit, Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play, Arlene Hutton’s As It Is In Heaven, Ibsen’s The Master Builder, and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.
The 64,348-square-foot Byron Dick Seaver Theatre is the home to the Theatre department. The main auditoriuam seats 340 and was planned to enable audience-actor integration with runways, overhead galleries and adaptable caliper stages for flexibility. The 52,000-square-foot building houses a hundred-seat “black box” theatre, individual studios, scene and costume shops, a library and faculty offices. Built in 1990, the building received an award of merit in 1995 from the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology, which noted its handsome courtyard and flexible, non-intimidating teaching spaces, inside and out.
Dance students take a broad range of courses and perform in dance concerts that feature works choreographed by students as well as guest artists and faculty.
The Dance Program at Pomona, which exists as part of the Theatre and Dance Department, offers a modern dance-based curriculum supported by courses in ballet, history, theory and several cultural styles. Classes include techniques like modern dance, ballet, world dance, hip hop, Balinese dance, and Indian Classical dance.
Students from the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges, regardless of major concentration, have the opportunity to audition for participation in informal student productions, as well as faculty-student concerts. The annual Pomona Spring Dance Concert features choreography by renowned artists, faculty and senior dance majors.
The Gladys Shepard Pendleton Dance Studio, named in honor of Mrs. Morris B. Pendleton ’22, is located south of Mudd Hall. This facility includes two fully-equipped dance studios (one a studio theatre), dressing rooms, a classroom/rehearsal studio and offices for the dance faculty.