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–

Current undergraduate courses

Color

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, richness, and fullness to all that surrounds us. Color soothes us and excites us. It changes how we see, 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, and physiology of color and how it is used. 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 their personal, psychological, symbolic, expressive, and emotional consequences.

Faculty

Location and Place

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.

Faculty

Nature Morte

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.

Faculty

Previous courses

Interdisciplinary Studio/Seminar

Spring

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 coursework. 

Faculty

Two-Dimensional Design

Fall

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. 

Faculty