Visual Arts Resource Library

Collection and Services

The Visual Arts Resource Library is a non-circulating collection of books, exhibition catalogues, directories, magazines, and sound and video recordings available for SVA students and faculty. New books are added annually, and acquisition recommendations are always welcome. In addition to housing an over 6,000-volume reference collection, which includes many rare and unique items, the library frequently hosts events, including the School’s Artist Development Series, a lecture and workshop series targeted at career development education for young artists.

The Visual Arts Resource Library’s digital resources include Apple desktop computers fully loaded with the Adobe Creative Cloud, a large-format digital scanner, a copier, and a black-and-white printer. A collection of digital equipment, including still and video cameras, projectors, audio recording equipment, lighting kits, and more, are available for short terms loans to SVA students and faculty. Email Evan Smith, SVA Media Coordinator to reserve equipment, or visit the SVA equipment page to learn more.

Click here to request a book purchase.

Karl Fortess Audio Archive

Karl Eugene Fortess (1907–1993) was a painter and printmaker who headed the School of Visual Arts printmaking department from 1956 to 1973. Beginning in the early sixties, he undertook a major artist interview project, creating 269 “audio-portraits” (sound recording interviews) of prominent American artists. Fortess believed that art students needed and wanted to learn about the inner lives of artists in addition to their techniques and craftsmanship. His interviews focused on the artists’ career development, their sources of influence and inspiration, their self-understandings of purpose, and their reflections on teaching and learning.

Fortess gave the School of Visual Arts cassette copies of his interviews. Those copies are the source of the Resource Library’s collection of Fortess interview digital transfers on CD. The list of interviews in the library’s collection includes many prominent American artists of the twentieth century, among them Romare Bearden, Thomas Hart Benton, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Frankenthaler, Philip Guston, Alex Katz, Jacob Lawrence, Jack Levine, Robert Motherwell, and Alice Neel. All original Fortess recordings as well as digital transfers of many of the interviews are held at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.

Recordings of the School of Visual Arts’ Contemporary Perspectives Lecture Series are also available for access in the Resource Library. This growing list of sound and video recordings includes talks by Nicole Eisenman, William Kentridge, Vik Muniz, Laurie Anderson, Kerry James Marshall, Kiki Smith, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jenny Saville, Matthew Ritchie, Jerry Saltz, Peter Schjeldahl, Chuck Close, Rob Storr, and many others. Select talks are available for viewing online at BUniverse.

Tools and Equipment

Career and Artist Development Information

Employment Opportunities and Internships

Grants, Residencies and Exhibition Opportunities

Information on employment opportunities, exhibitions, fellowships, and grants is also available in the library. Literature on graduate programs, study abroad, artist fellowships, and summer programs is on file as well.

And check out the official School of Visual Arts FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr pages for regular updates, news, and opportunities!

Hours and Contact Information

The library is open year-round, Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm.

Boston University School of Visual Arts
Visual Arts Resource Library, Room 501
855 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215