What is the essence of an art school such as ECAV today? Where does it position itself in the plethora of educational institutions? What can it offer students who are hungry for knowledge? These are some of the questions we try to answer, here at the École cantonale d’art du Valais (ECAV).

In the past, art schools were primarily where artists were trained but their role today is far more extensive. A school such as ours provides a period of time when students are encouraged to learn, certainly, but also to reflect on the world and stimulate the various parts of their brain that make up the galaxy of creativity.

The word ‘creativity’ is essential: a force that now opens doors far beyond the studios. The paths students take when they leave art school are many and various: they no longer lead straight to the sacred spaces of museums but take young adults into the vast universe of culture and visual communications. As the latest statistics produced in France have shown, over eight out of ten graduates find a job after they leave art school.

Unlike other art schools in French-speaking Switzerland, ECAV – with its links to the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO) – is unusual in targeting people taking a vocational training course as well as students. Its full-time course in graphic design, one of the largest in French-speaking Switzerland, leads to the CFC (Federal Certificate of Competence) and maturité professionnelle (vocational diploma). At the same time, the school delivers continuing education programmes throughout the year.

Among other things, ECAV runs a one-year foundation programme that prepares students for a Bachelor’s course in visual arts or visual communication, another area of study offered at the school. Students from a wide variety of backgrounds also have the option to complete a Master of Arts in Public Spheres (MAPS), a course that deals with art in public spaces. The course is recognised far beyond Switzerland and is also a key theme for ECAV’s research institute.

Located in the centre of the alpine arc, in a region that lends itself well to study and research, ECAV welcomes around 230 students from Switzerland and around ten other countries, mainly outside Europe.

ECAV offers highly personalised supervision, professors who are active in their professional fields and internationally renowned lecturers. Its facilities are updated on a regular basis, providing opportunities to experiment with both traditional artistic techniques and new technological approaches.

ECAV is a place of experimentation and research. Numerous projects, exhibitions, publications, conferences and seminars offer a cross-disciplinary interpretation of various areas of culture: art, of course, but also dance, theatre, sound, graphic design and architecture. We maintain a special relationship with our students, alumni and other long-term contributors. Ultimately, ECAV – which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2019 – aims to help every pupil and student to embark on their professional and/or artistic career in an environment that fosters creative endeavour and nourishes all forms of what matters to us most: their creativity.


Jean-Paul Felley