Gary Burnley

BFA, Washington University. MFA, Yale University. Solo and group exhibitions in the United States and Europe; works included in major private, corporate, and museum collections; awards and fellowships include the Federal Design Achievement Award, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council, and CAPS; public commissions include the MTA and St. Louis Bi-State Development. SLC, 1980–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Visual and Studio Arts

Color

Open , Seminar—Year

Color is primordial. It is life itself, and a world without color would appear dead and barren to us. Nothing affects our entire being more dramatically than color. The children of light, colors reveal and add meaning, giving richness and fullness to all that surrounds us. A vehicle for expressing emotions and concepts, as well as information, color soothes us and excites us. Our response to color is both biological and cultural. It changes how we live, how we dream, and what we desire. Using a variety of methods and materials, this course will focus on an exploration of color, its agents, and their effects. Not a painting course, this class will explore relationships between the theory, perception, use, and physiology of color. Clearly defined problems and exercises will concentrate on understanding and controlling the principles and strategies common to the visual vocabulary of color, (hue, value, saturation, form, context, texture, pattern, space, continuity, repetition, rhythm, gestalt, and unity), as well as the personal, psychological, symbolic, expressive, and emotional consequences of that visual vocabulary.

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Body and Soul: Drawing From Life

Open , Seminar—Year

For a visual artist, the human form provides a subject unlike no other. Descriptively, emotively, biologically, and culturally, the figure is a mirror, the representation of who we are as well as who we wish to be. For the artist, a true understanding of the human form—its unique formal, symbolic, narrative, psychological, and historical role—comes through prolonged and detailed exploration. The potential of the human form as an artistic resource will be the focus of this yearlong course. Daily exercises, both in and outside the studio, that stress the development of personal vision and disciplined work habits will be key to growing each student’s observational and technical skills. Over the course of the year—using both observation and memory, as well as a variety of materials and methods and an analysis of the relationships between gesture and form, rhythm and movement, and structure and biology—will lay the foundation necessary for individual expression.

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Previous Courses

First-Year Studies in Visual Art: Process and Making

Open , FYS—Year

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. —Chinese proverb

Ideas in any creative endeavor rarely arrive full blown and/or crystal clear. Similar to the task of repeatedly pushing a large boulder up and then down and then back up a steep hill, creativity, understanding, and clarity come through engagement and from the challenge and the act of doing. The more one engages in the activity, the more one inquires and gains experience. The more experience one gains, the greater the number of possible paths uncovered. With disciplined work habits, the potential of each path and a clear understanding of the right choice to follow will be revealed. How or where one elects to begin the task and from which point of departure (e.g., observation, memory, history) is not important. A starting point is just that: the first step in a journey, a place to begin, a way to garner momentum. Working with a variety of materials, methods, subject matter, techniques, and sources, this course will focus on the process of developing and growing ideas visually and on gaining intention, clarity, and understanding through making images each and every day, from the first day of the semester through the last. The two sections of this course will interact regularly, sharing both faculty and classmates, in an effort to encourage experimentation, innovation, and uniqueness of vision.

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Location and Place

Open , Seminar—Fall

Whether it is John Ford’s vision of the Western frontier, Yoda’s swamp-infested Dagobah, a tree in an empty field painted by Courbet, this campus seen from space via Google Earth, Yosemite photographed by Carleton Watkins, or the backyard of your childhood home, the landscape—vast and at times incomprehensible—has symbolically embodied a sense of place, as well as our ability to conceive of worlds and horizons beyond. Harmony or lack of harmony with the environment can perhaps be understood best through the chiseling of human intervention. Even before written language, recording a sense of place—marking where one was, here in relation to someone or something there—was important in defining oneself. Historically, the landscape has been a way to understand both location and position in relation to the world around us. A mixture of the external and the internal—using memory, instinct, and learned behavior—we navigate, in body and in mind, a landscape that is partly real and partly invented. At times an escape from the turmoil of earthly confinement, the landscape is representative of our desire for freedom, as well as of our need for order. How you choose to compare here to there, now to then, us to them, and from which perspective or location one departs in recording an excursion (e.g., observation, memory, or history) changes the meaning, purpose, and understanding of the journey. Using a variety of visual means, materials, and media, this course will explore concepts of landscape, journeying, mapping, documentation, location, and one’s perceived place in the world.

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Nature Morte

Open , Seminar—Spring

In a world where almost any and every object one could desire is easily accessible and readily available, the still life—precisely because its subject matter is the complex, emblematic narrative between objects—is a genre uniquely poised between the actual and virtual worlds. Evoking the cyclic and symbiotic interconnective structure of nature, time, and the fragility of all existence, the still life gives a permanence and visibility to the evanescent. Fleeting illusions or something real and concrete, objects in a still life can be connected through fact, presence, or memory, as well as a combination of those and many other factors. A still life may be about the here and now or a projection of something desired and/or wished. The terms that describe, contemplate, and capture this process of building and understanding the connection between objects—still life, stilleben, stilleven, nature morte, natura morta, naturaleza muerta—are all very vague and do not exactly evoke or mean the same thing. Is a painting of a young woman next to a window, with a bowl of fruit and in front of an antique map, a still life? Is the collection of random photographs stored in your smart phone a still life? Or the memory of your favorite childhood toys, whether they actually remain or not? Each could or could not be examples of still life, but how and under what circumstances? This course will explore the idea of visually gathering, collecting, curating, documenting, and bringing objects together with purpose and meaning. Students will be encouraged to work with a variety of methods, media, sources, and combinations of materials to examine the meaningful exchange and interaction between objects both personal and cultural, natural and manmade, actual or virtual.

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Two-Dimensional Design

Open , Seminar—Spring

Design grows out of a need for meaningful order in our lives. In art as well as in nature, our perception and understanding of order relies on the ability to perceive qualities and relationships that extend beyond the mere sum of a group of parts. The word “design” indicates both the process of organizing elements and the products of that process. Through clearly-defined problems and laboratory exercises, this course will examine the principles, strategies, and applications essential to an understanding of visual order within any two-dimensional framework. The course will concentrate on structures, concepts, and relationships common to an understanding of, and control over, visual vocabulary. Line and form, texture and pattern, space and continuity, presentation and format, repetition and rhythm, color and context, composition and gestalt, unity and variety are some of the issues to be explored.

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Interdisciplinary Studio/Seminar

Advanced , Seminar—Year

Open to juniors and seniors with prior visual art experience.

A dialogue with peers working in a variety of disciplines, this course is designed for experienced visual arts students. It is a forum to share and discuss critical, creative, intellectual strategies and processes while building, nurturing, and sustaining an independent point of view. Each participant will be expected to focus on growing the values, commitments, and attitudes embedded in his or her own body of work and ideas. Experimentation, innovation, and uniqueness of vision will be encouraged, along with habits of discipline necessary to support all creative endeavors. Readings and discussion of art and cultural history are an important part of the weekly course work.

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