Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts

Sarah Lawrence College’s undergraduate filmmaking and moving image arts program (FMIA) offers a vibrant, dynamic, creative incubator to ignite the imagination of the next generation of media makers. The program seeks to help students navigate the intersection of art and technology, as they acquire the tools and skills of the discipline and develop their critical and creative voices.

Cognizant that not every student will graduate to be a writer, director, producer, or game developer, the program recognizes that—with the enduring power and influence of cinema, television, the web, and social media—students in all fields of study benefit from media literacy and theory and a deep understanding of the ways and means of media development and production. The FMIA program explores a broad scope of media making, including narrative fiction, documentary/nonfiction, experimental film, animation, cinematography, storyboarding, and directing actors, as well as editing, producing, screenwriting, writing for television, writing and producing for the web, writing for games, and game development.

Interdisciplinary work across the liberal arts is encouraged, and both formal and informal collaboration among the music, dance, theatre, writing, visual arts, and other disciplines continues to emerge and flourish.

Our program offers an intensive “semester-away” program—Cinema Sarah Lawrence—where students work on the development and production of a feature film shot on location in Nantucket, Massachusetts. We also offer exchange programs in animation with CalArts and study-abroad opportunities in film in Paris, in Cuba, and at the world-famous FAMU film school in Prague, among others.

Sarah Lawrence College offers state-of-the-art facilities for the FMIA program, including the Donnelly Film Theatre that seats 185 people and has a 4K digital cinema projector, an intimate 35-person screening room, a teaching/editing lab, a 1,400-square-foot soundstage, an animation studio, and a sound and Foley recording booth. Our equipment room offers Sony, Canon, Blackmagic, RED, and ARRI cameras, along with sound, grip, and lighting packages.

Recent graduates routinely have their work represented at some of the world’s most prestigious film and media festivals, most recently at Cannes, Palm Springs, and Slamdance. Graduates who choose to pursue advanced degrees are finding traction at the top film schools in the United States and abroad.

Filmmaking and Moving Image Arts 2022-2023 Courses

Contemporary Moving-Image Art

Open, Lecture—Fall | 5 credits

This course highlights the work of a single contemporary artist each week, providing masterclasses and conversations with them both in person and in virtual space. The highlighted artists’ work will cover a range of visual forms, including feature films, video art, internet art, installation art, virtual reality, and video games. The themes explored in the works presented will provide a broad view of political representation, formal experimentation, and personal expression. Through weekly visiting-artist lectures, we will explore the history of the moving image; discuss its impact on broader cultural issues; and analyze the power of this art form as a tool for self expression, a platform for worldbuilding, and an agent of social change. Conferences will be dedicated to discussing the work in small groups, considering it within the field of contemporary moving-image art. Students are expected to make connections between the work presented in class and current issues through weekly written responses.

Faculty

Animation

3D Character and Environments

Open, Small seminar—Year | 10 credits

This course will focus on the creation and animation of computer graphic-generated characters and environments. We will utilize Maya, an industry-standard 3D modeling and animation application, to create unique characters. Topics covered will be the basics of character creation, topology, edge flows, rigging, weighting, and UV mapping. Over the course of the semester, students will create a variety of different characters, both bipedal and non-bipedal. Students will learn how to make walk cycles and to automate facial expressions for their own unique characters. We will cover how to integrate these characters into traditional animation environments, as well as film projects. Sample exercises include the creation of a dance music video, and a dining experience. By the conclusion of the term, students will have a basis for the fundamentals of character creation and animation.

Faculty

2D Digital Animation: Short Narratives

Open, Seminar—Year | 10 credits

In this class, students will develop animation and storytelling skills by focusing on the process of creating animated short films. Participants will develop and refine their personal style through exercises in story design and assignments directed at translating ideas into moving images. Digitally-drawn images (with the option to include live action and photographs) will be assembled in sync to sound. Compositing exercises cover a wide range of motion-graphic features, including green screen, keyframing, timeline, effects, 2D space, layering, and lighting. Exercises in the fall will provide students with a working knowledge of the software Harmony by Toon Boon. The fall semester, taught by Robin Starbuck, includes instruction exercises in all of the production steps required to produce a short, animated film of one-to-three minutes. These include the basic principles of animation, color and visual design, story development, continuity, motion, timing, frame-by-frame digital drawing, and rotoscoping. The spring semester, taught by Scott Duce, will involve the hands-on production of a single, short, animated film or PSA by each student. The Toon Boom software will be used for the students’ animated film production in the spring. Harmony is a creative, efficient software used in the film and TV animation industry. No prior drawing experience is necessary.

Faculty

Advanced Independent Studio, Animation

Advanced, Small seminar—Year | 10 credits

This is an advanced independent-study class for experienced animation students who wish to invest time in producing a refined animated film or a hybrid animation/video film for their portfolio. Participants should be committed to the preplanning and production of an animated work over the course of the academic year. Students will work independently, with regular individual conferences.

Faculty

Character Design

Open, Large seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This course focuses on the concepts of character design development as a preproduction stage to animation. Students will gain knowledge in drawing by learning formal spatial concepts in order to create fully-realized characters both visually and conceptually. Through the development of character boards, model sheets, beat boards, and character animatic projects, students will draw and conceptualize human, animal, mechanical, and hybrid figures. Students will research characters in their visual, environmental, psychological, and social aspects to establish a full understanding of characterization. Both hand-drawn materials and digital drawing will be used throughout the semester. Students may use their choice of drawing software, based on their own experience and skill level. Students new to digital drawing will work in Storyboard Pro software or Procreate software if they own an iPad. All students will have access to the animation rooms—which include a variety of software options, including Storyboard Pro, Harmony, Photoshop, Illustrator, and editing software Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premier. Assignments and projects will include character boards, model sheets, and animatics. There will be daily character drawing exercises, structural anatomy demonstrations, basic digital drawing concepts, and empirical perspective drawing discussions throughout the semester. This is a drawing course, which requires a commitment to learning to draw, and is labor-intensive. Good drawing demands time, commitment, and intelligence. The final conference project for this course is a concept-based, fully-developed character animatic. Knowledge from this course can be used to create and enhance animations; to establish a character outline for an interactive media project; or to help in developing a cast of characters for game design, graphic novels, or narrative film.

Faculty

Experimental Animation: Materials and Methods

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

Animation is the magic of giving life to objects and materials through motion. Whether through linear storytelling or conceptual drive, a sense of wonder is achieved with materials, movement, and transformation. Combining digital processes with handmade techniques, this class helps students hone their design skills to create short works that communicate through simplicity. The emphasis of the class is on process and concept, starting with a series of workshops intended to enhance student's skills in idea generation, concept development, and material animation techniques. The class includes instruction in a variety of undercamera, stop-motion processes, including: cut-out paper animation, sequential drawing, sand, after-effects motion graphics, simple object animation, and green-screen performance for stop motion. All aspects of progressive movement are covered, especially the laying out of ideas through time and the establishment of convincing motion. The course includes instruction in basic design techniques, material manipulation, movement and timing, color, and concept development. A brief foundational study of the history of experimental animation is introduced through viewing animated film work of artists from around the globe. During the semester, each student completes five short animated films, ranging in length from 30 seconds to two minutes. Students are required to provide their own external media hard drive and to purchase some additional art materials. Software instruction includes AfterEffects, Adobe Premier, and Dragonframe. The aim of this course is to explore freely with materials in order to trailblaze fresh narrative and aesthetic possibilities in animation. Final projects may be executed as animated or hybrid films or as animated video projections for installation or performance. Collaborations with music, dance, or theatre students can be established at the incentive of individual class participants.

Faculty

Not for Children: Alternative Animation, 1960–present

Open, Large seminar—Spring | 5 credits

This seminar course will take the form of a screening and discussion seminar, designed to provide an overview of auteur animation based on alternative writing and the relationship of form and style to content. We will examine various forms of animated films produced between 1960 and the present, with some time spent on the history and cultural crosscurrents within which this work was produced. The class will survey a wide range of work from a diverse selection of artists, including Oscar Fischinger, Lotte Reiniger, Renske Mijnheer, Stacey Steers, Karen Yasinsky, Adam Beckett, Christine Panushka, Chris Sullivan, William Kindridge, Lius Cook, and many more. The focus of the class is on animated film forms alternative to commercial animation; hand-drawn, cell-painted, cutout, stop motion, pixilated, puppet, and, more recently, CGI independents. In most cases, artists retaining control of their own work—unlike the battery of decision makers in commercial studio systems—will be the guiding factor in selecting work for review. As a class, we will look for aesthetic consequences and structural differences within the auteur system vs. an animation studio’s divisions of labor. All students are expected to fully participate in discussions during class meetings. Animation production will not be taught in this class; however, creative conference projects in studio arts, writing, media, and performing arts will be encouraged. Students will be expected to conduct research outside of class; to deliver a class presentation on an area of personal interest related to the social, political, and art movements in the experimental animation genre; and to complete a conference project or paper.

Faculty

Postproduction

Music and Sound for Film

Open, Seminar—Spring | 3 credits

This class will explore the ways in which music and sound serve the dramatic intent of a film. As coinhabitants of the aural spectrum, a film’s score and sound design are increasingly called upon to interact. Working in one of these areas now implies an understanding of the other. This class will cover: spotting music/sound with a director, choosing musical themes that correspond to the dramatic needs of a film, using sound design to highlight facets of the world and its characters, conceptualizing the sound world of a film, and designing the music and sound so that they occupy different but complementary spaces. The marriage of sound and music has deep roots in the history of cinema, and special attention will be paid to great works of the past. There will be weekly listening assignments to survey the history of film music and to explore current trends. Technical topics covered will include: intro to ProTools and an overview of basic mixing; concepts in music editing; use of effects such as compression, eq, reverb, and filters; file organization, management, and workflow. Students will work on sound design and/or scoring concepts using video clips that I provide or, better yet, using works from their fellow students in the film department. Music students will be asked to compose cues, and nonmusic film students will be asked to sound design scenes—with the goals being technical and expressive clarity.

Faculty

Finish Your Film! The Art of Postproduction

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring | 3 credits

This course aims to guide students in editing a rough cut of a student film that they intend to picture lock, color grade, and sound mix as the core of their work for the semester. A rough cut is an opportunity for a new jumping-off point. Dailies will be re-examined for “hidden gems,” little moments that may have been filmed unexpectedly or captured between takes. A deep review of this material can help the editor fully flesh out a moment that the director may have wanted but was not fully achieved on set. Is this shot too long? Is this scene necessary? Is this emotional beat realized? The work of the editor is not to cut just to cut but often not to cut and to hold a shot.  As editor Walter Murch says, “The editor is actually making 24 decisions a second: No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Yes!” The aim of this class will be to do a deep-dive into an existing student project and make it as good as it can be. Students will polish a rough cut to picture lock by the midpoint of the semester so that color grading and sound mix can be the focus of the second half of the class and completed in time for the final-class screening. This is not a class that will tolerate the bulk of a student’s work to be completed at the end of the semester but, rather, your work must be completed in stages over the course of the semester. Collaboration with students in other filmmaking courses will be encouraged and fostered. This is not a “conference” course and has no conference work or individual conference meeting times outside of class. There will be opportunities for individual attention during some class sessions. The class will use both Adobe Premiere and DaVinci Resolve: Premiere to edit; Resolve for color and sound. Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions will be provided to students, and the software will be available for use in the Ziskin Digital Media Lab. The software is cross-platform and available for both Mac and PC. Students who do not have a rough cut of a film ready to cut may join the class with permission of the professor, with the aim of editing an available stock film.

Faculty

Preproduction

Storyboarding for Film and Animation

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This course focuses on the art of storyboard construction as the preproduction stage and previsualization for graphics, film/video, and animation. Students will be introduced to storyboard strategies, exploring visual concepts such as shot types, continuity, pacing, transitions, and sequencing into visual communication. Both classical and experimental techniques for creating storyboards will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on production of storyboard drawings, both by hand and digitally, to negotiate sequential image development and to establish shot-by-shot progression, staging, frame composition, editing, and continuity in film and other media. Instruction will concentrate primarily on drawing from thumbnail sketches through final presentation storyboards and animatics. The final project for this class will be the production by each student of a full presentation storyboard and a low-res animatic in a combined visual, audio, and text presentation format. Knowledge of storyboards and animatics from this class can be used for idea development and presentation of your project to collaborators, for pitching projects, to professional agencies, and—most importantly—for you, the maker. Storyboard Pro software will be used throughout this course.

Faculty

Producing for Film and Television

Open, Large seminar—Fall | 5 credits

In film, while significant attention is inevitably paid to the director and his/her vision, the actualization of any project—whether it be documentary, fiction, or hybrid—rests in the ability of the producer to realize and even enhance a director’s vision all the way from development through distribution. The job of the producer is to support a project’s creative direction and to make the project happen on schedule, on budget, within legal compliance, and toward the desired educational, distribution, impact, or even commercial goals of the film. The producer’s job is also to ensure a production environment that is informed and dictated by inclusive, safe, and ethical practices. In an ideal scenario, the director and producer work hand-in-hand, constantly weighing creative concerns against producing realities. Producing for Film and Television is a foundational course, designed to ground students in the fundamentals of the producing craft. The course will be organized around a semester-long project—the execution of a proposal (treatment, rough schedule, and budget) for a short film. In this way, students will experience firsthand the role of the producer through the development stage of a project—from the germ of an idea to its research, development, and final proposal presentation and pitch. While students will experience producing firsthand as it relates to their own project, instruction will extend the applicability of lessons learned to best filmmaking practices and include recent and current examples or conversations underway in the US film industry. Watching, screening, and analyzing films from a producing lens will be an ongoing aspect of the course. Although the “hard skills” of producing are the core of this class—budgeting, scheduling, and fundraising—the softer skills of producing in terms of team building, clear communications, and time management will be ongoing themes, as will issues of accountability, inclusion, safety, and representation. Ultimately, the producer is accountable to many people: the subjects of your film and the people with whom you work, including funders, executive producers, distributors, and others. An understanding of a whole panoply of skills are paramount to the role of producer, to your success in this class, and to your future as a filmmaker if that is your focus. This class is being taught in person on the College campus. Conferences will be held in small groups.

Faculty

Good, Fast, Cheap: The Sacred Triad of Film Scheduling

Open, Seminar—Spring | 2 credits

Good, fast, cheap. In the world of film scheduling, your quest is to attain these three attributes—but you can only have two of the three. If you want the film to be done well and quickly, it’s going to be expensive. If you want it good and cheap, it is going to take a while. If you want it fast and inexpensive, it probably won’t be very good. Film scheduling, the hard skill that is also an artistic puzzle of strategic planning is the single most-important tool in narrative filmmaking in determining creative and financial choices. To talk intelligently and realistically about a movie’s budget, one must first break down a script to its essential elements and then plan a schedule taking into account constants and variables. Unless a budget has been derived from a detailed analysis and breakdown of the screenplay, it will be just another piece of fantastical fiction. Film scheduling is the breakdown and translation of the script into a mosaic of doable actions within a given period of time and based on economic efficiency and best working practices. It is an innovative, color-coded system called a production board that allows one to see all of the necessary elements of a screenplay and then arrange the order of shooting in the most efficient, economical, and artistically advantageous manner possible. This class takes students through this industry-standard, three-part process of film scheduling: breaking down the script, preparing/creating a production strip board, and determining the final shooting schedule. Only then can we begin the creation of the budget. The class will begin by using as a case study a 15-minute, 16mm film school-produced short, Uptown Express, winner of a producing award at New York University–Tisch, for its creative production solutions. Students will attempt to find solutions for challenges that faced Uptown Express’s production and consider the best practices for safety and working with a crew. Then, to begin establishing a sense of practical budgetary considerations and practices, students will break down and schedule a short screenplay of their choosing. We will be using Movie Magic Scheduling software for the production board and breakdown sheets.

Faculty

Concept Art: The Medea Project

Intermediate/Advanced, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

This intermediate/advanced-level preproduction film and animation course is designed to provide students with an experience developing concept-based visual material established through each participant’s interpretation of the classical myth, Medea. The class will research the story of Medea, as it is interpreted in the novel Bright Air Black by David Vann. Vann’s novel will become the intermediary through which students develop and build a digital production portfolio and animatic. Through readings, discussions, and artwork, each student will formulate an interpretation of Bright Air Black that both expresses the original narrative and is uniquely their own vision. For this, students will produce a cast of characters through model sheets and size boards, character staging and backgrounds, and a high-resolution final animatic. The course concludes with the class together producing a printed-edition portfolio made up of each student’s interpretation of the main character, Medea. Every student will receive a portfolio containing a print of each class member’s drawing of Medea. We will also distribute copies of the portfolio to selected members of the College community. Expectations for this course include the atmosphere of a professional working studio with a high degree of individual responsibility and work ethic. Students should understand that work of the highest quality will be demanded. Participation in group discussions, field trips, portfolio building and collating, and screenings will be mandatory. Information and experience gained from this course can be used to produce a professional portfolio or film reel; the invention of characters for future animations, graphic novels, and game design; or the execution of serial drawings.

Faculty

Production

Script to Screen

Open, Seminar—Year | 10 credits

This class will introduce students to all aspects of filmmaking, from conceiving a script through exhibition of the final work. The first semester will focus on screenwriting, and students will write short scripts that they will then produce and direct in the second semester. Simultaneously, students will learn to use the school’s filmmaking equipment and editing software and utilize those skills in a series of short, targeted video exercises. Those exercises will not only familiarize the students with the gear at their disposal but also will introduce the students to concepts of visual storytelling (e.g., where to put the camera to tell the story). The second semester will focus on preproduction and previsualization of the student’s conference film. Students will learn how to craft shot lists, floor plans, look books, and other tools to help them organize their film shoots. Students will practice directing actors and finding a method for effective communication with their cast. They will also learn some basic production-management skills, such as breaking down scripts for production and scheduling. After shooting their conference films, students will workshop their rough cuts in the classroom and fine-tune their edits in preparation for the final class: the screening!

Faculty

Designing Film for Virtual Environments

Sophomore and Above, Small seminar—Year | 10 credits

This course will focus on the development and deployment of adaptive cinema and live rendered compositing in video production. The class will explore the production techniques in shows such as Westworld and The Mandalorian, as well as the burgeoning field of adaptive cinema used on online platforms such as Netflix and experimental film festivals. Topics covered in the course will be live compositing computer graphics, user interface design, scene optimization, and multi-sequential narratives. The course will use Unreal Engine, an industry-standard software used on the above television shows to composite digital sets with live-action footage. Utilizing these techniques, the course will discuss different venues for deployment of this media.

Faculty

Working With Light and Shadow

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring | 5 credits

This introductory-level course will present students with the basics of cinematography and film production. Students will explore cinematography as an art of visual storytelling. The cinematographer plays a critical role in shaping the light and composition of an image and in capturing that image for the screen. Students will investigate the theory and practice of this unique visual language and its power as a narrative element in cinema. In addition to covering camera operation, students will explore composition, visual style, and the overall operation of lighting and grip equipment. They will work together on scenes that are directed and produced in class and geared toward the training of set etiquette, production language, and workflow. Work will include the re-creation of classic film scenes, with an emphasis on visual style. Students will discuss their work and provide feedback that will be incorporated into the next project. For conference, students will be required to produce a second scene re-creation, incorporating elements discussed throughout the term. Students will outline projects, draw floor plans, and edit and screen the final project for the class. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop that immerses the student in all aspects of film production. By the end of the course, students should feel confident to approach a film production project with enough experience to take on introductory positions with the potential for growth.

Faculty

Documentary Filmmaking: The Personal Is Political I

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

In this documentary course, students will locate themselves in larger movements for change in order to produce a three-to-five minute film. The projects may be grounded in portraiture, historically informed, and even the experimental and will exist through a lens of social change and personal experience. Students will work in teams to produce their films, building trust among each other as collaborators and practicing filmmaking as essentially interdependent creative work. Students will be required to make their work public and create social-engagement strategies for their final films. Given these unprecedented times—as we are presented with new opportunities to shift our understanding of self, community, and the roles that we can play in pursuing a just future—this course is for those who are committed to using filmmaking as a tool for change. This semester-long collaboration is equal parts media creation, screenings, and an understanding of the power of artists in movements for justice.

Faculty

On Multimodal Scholarship: The Use of Digital Technologies for Community-Oriented Research

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This course draws upon multimodal scholarship, encouraging students to express their critical thinking not only through the written word but also through multiple forms of media, particularly in the context of community-oriented research. Media scholar Tara McPherson describes the multimodal humanist, who “deploy[s] new experiential, emotional, and even tactile aspects of argument and expression [that] can open up fresh avenues of inquiry and research” and eventually “reconfigures the relationships among author, reader, and technology.” What kind of scholarly arguments and expressions can we shape through digital media? How is it creating knowledge with multisensorial (visual, aural, and tactile) media different from writing a research paper? How does multimodal scholarship change the relationships among artists, researchers, and community members? In class, we will have multi-, trans-, and interdisciplinary conversations in order to fundamentally transform the ways in which we approach critical inquiry in a community-oriented setting. In particular, we will focus on the idea and practice of intersectionality, a necessary component of co-creating knowledge with communities and across differences anchored in race, ethnicity, gender, disability, and class. As a conference project, students will work with the community youth from surrounding neighborhoods and create a multimedia project together in groups.

Faculty

Storytelling Through the Lens: Filmmaking Basics

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

In these days of technological advancement, anyone can pick up an iPhone and call themselves a filmmaker—but how many of them are actually good? In this seminar/workshop for the nascent filmmaker, we will first focus on the filmmaking fundamentals that every director needs to learn for a career in film and television: basic filmmaking terms, crew positions, camera operation, shot angles and composition, camera movement, basic lighting, sound recording, and editing. Next, students will learn how to break down a screenplay into its essential elements for low-budget shooting. They will learn how to create shot lists, floor plans, look books, and other important tools necessary for a successful shoot. As a way of developing one’s own artistic eye and voice, several independent, short, shooting assignments will be given, then viewed and discussed in class. Because collaboration is key in filmmaking, students will also be divided into groups for several weekly assignments, giving them the opportunity to serve in various roles on the crew. The idea is for students to acquire the skills needed for creating compelling cinematic work both on their own and with others. For conference, students will write, develop, and prep a short film over the course of the semester.

Faculty

Cinematography: Color, Composition, and Style

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This course will explore the roles associated with film production, focusing on cinematography and lighting for the screen. In addition to covering camera operation and basic lighting techniques, students will explore composition, color palettes, and application of a visual style to enhance the story. The semester will revolve around weekly exercises, followed by creating and producing original work. Work will be discussed and notes incorporated into the next project. As part of conference work, students will be required to produce a short project in addition to the work completed during class times, incorporating elements discussed throughout the semester. Students will develop, write, shoot, edit, and screen a final project by the end of the term. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop that immerses the student in all aspects of film production. By the end of the course, students should feel confident enough to approach a film-production project with the experience to take on introductory and assistant positions with the potential for growth.

Faculty

Documentary Filmmaking: The Personal Is Political II

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

In this documentary course, students will locate themselves in larger movements for change in order to produce a three-to-five minute film. The projects may be grounded in portraiture, historically informed, and even the experimental and will exist through a lens of social change and personal experience. Students will work in teams to produce their films, building trust among each other as collaborators and practicing filmmaking as essentially interdependent creative work. Students will be required to make their work public and create social-engagement strategies for their final films. Given these unprecedented times—as we are presented with new opportunities to shift our understanding of self, community, and the roles that we can play in pursuing a just future—this course is for those who are committed to using filmmaking as a tool for change. This semester-long collaboration is equal parts media creation and an understanding of the power of artists in movements for justice.

Faculty

Everyday Archives: Digital Media and the Aesthetic Collaboration

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

This course aims to create everyday archives in collaboration with community members from the College’s surrounding neighborhoods. Working with SLC’s community partners, students will create a team blog to document the modes of perception, consciousness, and affect that characterize everyday life. Drawing upon Ann Cvetkovich’s “radical archive of emotion,” José Esteban Muñoz’s “ephemera as evidence,” and David Román’s “archival drag,” we will explore aspects of everyday life that often go unnoticed but are crucial in order to understand who we are and how we perceive the world. By utilizing digital media, we will engage in other modes of recordkeeping, intervention, and preservation. Throughout the semester, students will organize a series of workshops to teach audio recording, photography, video, and creative writing for the youth. The conference project constitutes a collaborative, community, digital-media project that emerges in dialogue among the community members and all of us.

Faculty

Radical Strategies: Experimental Documentary

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

In this course, we examine the experimental documentary form as political/social/personal discourse and practice. We take as a starting point avant-garde documentary production and explore this in the manner that theorist Renov defines as “the rigorous investigation of aesthetic forms, their composition and functionm,” and in which, “poetics confront the problematics of power...” Throughout the semester, students will produce a series of experimental film exercises while simultaneously researching and producing a single, short, experimental documentary film for conference work. This class acquaints students with the basic theory and purpose of experimental film/video, as compared to narrative documentary formats. Instruction will include critical methodologies that will help establish aesthetic designs for a student’s own work. In the class, we will survey a wide range of avant-garde documentary films from the 1920s to the present, with the central focus being student’s options for film production in the context of political and cultural significance. The various practices inherent in experimental documentary film speak to a range of possibilities for what a movie might be. Within these practices, issues such as whose voices are heard and who is represented become of crucial Importance.

Faculty

Filming With Actors: A Workshop for Directors and Actors

Intermediate, Large seminar—Spring | 2 credits

Learning how to communicate with actors is the number-one job of a budding director. It has often been said, however, that “directing is 85-90 percent casting.” A successful actor/director collaboration can create magic on the screen. How does one choose the right actor for a role? How does one get a great performance from an actor? What are the tools needed for the director to have an effective and successful collaboration with an actor? How do actors communicate effectively with directors? In this workshop/seminar, open to FMIA and theatre students, we will explore the dynamics of the collaborative relationship between actors and directors from casting to filming. For the directors (FMIA students), we will explore the various stages of the directing process: the role of the director, casting, script analysis, rehearsals, and communication with actors. Directors will be assigned one or two scenes to rehearse and film in class with actors, with feedback provided by the instructor. For the actors (theatre students), we will explore the basics of acting on film, with a focus on script analysis and the elements of characterization. We will also explore methods that will allow the actor’s work on camera to be loose, spontaneous, and real. Students will leave class with a strong set of tools that will assist them in their continued work as directors and actors.

Faculty

Filmmaking Production Collective

Intermediate, Large seminar—Spring | 5 credits

This course, open to intermediate/advanced students with works in progress, will provide a framework to pursue the production of an advanced-project short film. Students will be interviewed during registration to evaluate their proposed material and their role on the project. The week-to-week structure of the collective will be tailored to meet the needs of the individual projects/groups as the semester progresses. Course discussions will include script revisions, budgeting, scheduling, script breakdowns, casting, locations, crewing, equipment allocations, and preparations for postproduction. Students will complete a production book that will include all of the elements necessary to properly pursue the making of their project.

Faculty

Screenwriting

Writing the Feature-Length Screenplay

Open, Seminar—Year | 10 credits

To make a great film, you need three things—the script, the script, and the script.—Alfred Hitchcock

The world’s directors are in agreement—a solid screenplay is the foundation of any great film. This class is designed to help the beginning screenwriter find his or her voice as a film artist, using the written language of visual storytelling. During the course of this seminar/workshop, students will learn how to write narrative screenplays with an eye toward completing a feature-length work. The course will cover basics of format and style, and weekly assignments will be aimed at developing students’ screenwriting muscles. In the first semester, students will write scenes and short screenplays; plus, they will learn about structuring feature-length work. Students will “pitch” ideas and rigorously outline their stories. During the second semester, students will write their feature-length screenplay. The pages they present will be “table-read,” and students will receive critical feedback for future revisions. By the end of the year, students will have completed a first draft of their screenplay.

Faculty

Writing the Short Screenplay

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

The goal of this class is to develop, write, and workshop a short screenplay—up to 15 pages. Students will pitch stories in an open, roundtable process that will provide an opportunity for them to understand the potential and feasibility of their ideas. The class will explore the elements of screenwriting—including story structure, character development through action (behavior) and dialogue, visual storytelling, and point of view—in order to expand and deepen the writer’s narrative craft. We will schedule readings of at least three screenplays each week, followed by critique and discussion of the work. The course will culminate in “table reads” of each screenplay, a process that allows the writer to hear his/her work read aloud by classmates/actors in each role, leading to a final production-ready draft. For conference, students may choose between developing another idea for a short script or a long-form screenplay. Those who need extra attention to make their in-class projects production-ready by the end of the semester may also receive that opportunity in conference.

Faculty

Writing Fantasy Scripts

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This class will involve learning how to write the fantasy genre for film and TV, as well as learning the necessary components of a strong script for both short-form and feature scripts. The class will cover the essential elements of a well-written fantasy script. In addition, we’ll explore how to create scripts that mix genres and use fantasy elements, which many popular films and TV shows do. After learning about the format for short- and web-series scripts, students will have the option of pitching and developing ideas in either the genre or subgenre of fantasy. They will then learn how to further develop the plot, characters, theme, style, and tone of their scripts through discussion, exercises, and outlines. We will workshop the scripts with readings in class, which will be followed by notes given by myself and fellow students. Students will revise their scripts and finish the class with a completed and polished draft of their short- or web-series scripts. This class is designed to help both beginning and experienced screenwriters understand how to create strong fantasy elements in their scripts while finding his or her voice as a screenwriter. Having the fantasy genre and effective techniques of visual storytelling as the main focuses of this class will particularly support these goals and will also inspire students to delve into their imaginations to create distinctive and well-structured fantasy scripts or scripts where fantasy is a subgenre, such as comedy, drama, horror, etc.

Faculty

Screenwriting for TV: Writing the Spec

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

The fundamental skill of successful TV writers is the ability to craft entertaining and compelling stories for characters, worlds, and situations that have been created by others. Though dozens of writers may work on a show over the course of its run, the “voice” of the show is unified and singular. The best way to learn to write for television—and an important first step for all TV writers—is to draft a sample episode of a preexisting show, known as a “spec script.” Developing, pitching, writing, and rewriting stories hundreds of times, extremely quickly, in collaboration, and on tight deadlines is what TV writers on staff do every day—fitting each episode seamlessly into the series as a whole in tone, concept, and execution. This workshop will introduce those fundamental skills by taking students, step-by-step, through the writing of their own spec (sample) script for an ongoing, currently airing, scripted half-hour TV series—comedy, drama, or dramedy/traumedy. The fall course will take students through the spec-script process, from premise lines through the outline/beat sheet to writing a draft of a teleplay for a currently airing show. No original pilots will be pursued in the fall. In conference, students will work in depth through additional drafts of their script pages. In  class, there will be heavy TV viewing in the first third of the semester, as students “learn” the shows that are spec-ed in this class. Prospective students are expected to have an extensive working knowledge across many genres of scripted TV shows that have aired domestically over the past several decades.

Faculty

Screenwriting: Tools of the Trade

Open, Large seminar—Spring | 5 credits

The screenplay is the starting point for nearly every film, television, or web series. The majority of our favorite films and television shows begin with a writer and an idea. Aimed at the beginning screenwriter, this course will focus on the fundamentals of visual storytelling—story, structure, style, character development, dialogue, outlining, and formatting. Weekly writing prompts will be given, focusing on the highlighted fundamentals of the previous week. Assignments will then be read and discussed in class, using a structured feedback paradigm. In addition, students will be given weekly viewing and reading assignments as a way to strengthen their script-analysis skills. For conference, students will work on an independent, short screenplay that they will outline, write, and revise throughout the semester.

Faculty

Writing the Adapted Feature

Intermediate/Advanced, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

Your favorite novel has never been made into a movie, a little-known historical figure is your personal role model, or a relative’s journey of survival fascinates you. These are some of the preexisting sources that inspire us to write movies. Working from novels, biographies, historical events, true crime, etc., students will develop feature-length screenplays. From pitching ideas, outlining, and building mood boards in order to develop cinematic storytelling skills, this course will take the student through the process of distilling the preexisting material into a three-act narrative structure. Students will develop their screenplays in an intimate workshop, where all work will be shared and critiqued in a safe and constructive atmosphere. The goal: Acts I & 2, completed; Act 3, outlined.

Faculty

Advanced Writing for TV: Writing the Original Script

Advanced, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

Building on fundamentals learned in the fall, this class focuses on creating an original TV pilot—an important component of your portfolio for agents, managers, showrunners, and producers. Students will hone concepts, develop characters, and generate beat sheets and pages to create and write an original, scripted, half-hour show (no three-camera sitcoms). Focusing on engineering story machines, we power characters and situations with enough conflict to generate episodes over many years. In conference, students may wish to work on a pitch deck, pitch pages, and work in depth through additional drafts of their script pages. Prospective students are expected to have an extensive working knowledge across many genres of scripted TV shows that have aired domestically during the past several decades.

Faculty

Understanding Experience: Phenomenological Approaches in Anthropology

Open, Seminar—Fall

How does a chronic illness affect a person’s orientation to the everyday? What are the social and political forces that underpin life in a homeless shelter? What is the experiential world of a deaf person, a musician, a refugee, or a child at play? In an effort to answer these and like-minded questions, anthropologists in recent years have become increasingly interested in developing phenomenological accounts of particular “lifeworlds” in order to understand—and convey to others—the nuances and underpinnings of such worlds in terms that more orthodox social or symbolic analyses cannot achieve. In this context, phenomenology entails an analytic method that works to understand and describe in words phenomena as they appear to the consciousnesses of certain peoples. Phenomenology, put simply, is the study of experience. The phenomena most often in question for anthropologists include the workings of time, perception, emotions, selfhood, language, bodies, suffering, and morality as they take form in particular lives within the context of any number of social, linguistic, and political forces. In this course, we will explore phenomenological approaches in anthropology by reading and discussing some of the most significant efforts along these lines. Each student will also try her or his hand at developing a phenomenological account of a specific subjective or intersubjective lifeworld through a combination of interviewing, participant observation research, and ethnographic writing.

Faculty

Specters of the Subject: Hauntologies of Ghosts, Phantasms, and Imaginings in Contemporary Life

Advanced, Seminar—Fall

“The future belongs to the ghosts,” remarked the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1996. His interlocutor, Bernard Stiegler, phrases the main idea behind this statement: “Modern technology, contrary to appearances, increases tenfold the power of ghosts.” With the advent of the internet, various forms of social media, and the ubiquity of filmic images in our lives, Derrida’s observations have proven to be quite prophetic, such that they call for a new field of study—one that requires less an ontology of being and the real and more a “hauntology” (to invoke Derrida’s punish term) of the spectral, the virtual, the phantasmic, the imaginary, and the recurrent revenant. In this seminar, we consider ways in which the past and present are haunted by ghosts. Topics to be covered include: specters and hauntings, figures and apparitions, history and memory, trauma and political crisis, fantasy and imagination, digital interfaces, and visual and acoustical images. We will be considering a range of films and video, photography, literary texts, acoustic reverberations, internet and social media, and everyday discourses and imaginings. Through these inquiries, we will be able to further our understanding of the nature of specters and apparitions in the contemporary world in their many forms and dimensions. Students will be invited to undertake their own hauntologies and, thus, craft studies of the phenomenal force of specters, hauntings, and the apparitional in particular social or cultural contexts.

Faculty

Yoga

Component—

This yoga class is designed with the interests of dancers and theatre students in mind. Various categories of postures will be practiced, with attention to alignment, breath awareness, strength, and flexibility. The physical practice includes seated and standing poses, twists, forward bends and backbends, traditional yogic breathing practices, and short meditations. Emphasis is placed on mindfulness and presence. This approach allows the student to gain tools for reducing stress and addressing unsupportive habits to carry into other aspects of their lives. Attention will be given to the chakra system as a means and metaphor for postural, movement, and character choices. The instructor has a background in dance and object theatre, in addition to various somatically-based practices that she draws upon for designing the classes to meet the individual needs of the class members.

Guest Artist Lab

Component—Year

This course is an experimental laboratory that aims to expose students to a diverse set of current voices and approaches to contemporary dance making. Each guest artist will lead a module of three-to-seven class sessions. These mini-workshops will introduce students to that artist and his/her creative process. Guests will present both emergent and established voices and a wide range of approaches to contemporary artistic practice.

Choreographing Light for the Stage

Component—Year

This course will examine the fundamentals of design, and how to both think compositionally and work collaboratively as an artist. The medium of light will be used to explore the relationship between art, technology, and movement. Discussion and experimentation will reveal how light defines and shapes an environment. Students will learn a vocabulary to speak about light and how to express their artistic ideas. Through hands-on experience students will practice installing, programing and operating lighting fixtures and consoles. The artistic and technical skills they build will then be demonstrated together by creating original lighting designs for the works developed in the Time Based Art course.

Faculty

History and Aesthetics of Film

Open, Lecture—Year

This class will provide both a detailed survey of the history of moving-image art and an introduction to key aesthetic and theoretical concepts in the study of film. We will study the major elements of film form—editing, cinematography, sound, mise-en-scène—as phenomena emerging from specific historical contexts and chart their development both over time and also as they travel around the world. While the emphasis of the earlier part of the course will be on film’s European and American origins, we will approach film as a truly global phenomenon with considerable attention devoted to East and South Asian, African, Latin American, and Middle Eastern cinemas. While the basic structure of the course will be chronological, we will develop the vocabulary and viewing skills necessary to identify and analyze the key components of film texts as we proceed; for example, our examination of editing will be situated within our discussion of 1920s American and Soviet cinema, while possible uses and aesthetic implications of sound will be examined alongside a number of diverse early experiments with sound. Other key moments to be studied will include the development of “classical” Hollywood cinema (and challenges to it), the emergence of new national art cinemas in the post-World War II era, the radical cinema of the 1960s and ’70s, and developments in film aesthetics since the introduction of digital filmmaking techniques in the 1990s. Key theoretical approaches in film studies will also be situated in their historical context, including early debates around film’s status as art from the 1910s and ’20s, inquiries into the relationship between photography and reality from the post-World War II period, and different critical approaches to the analysis of the ideological implications of film and its relationship to the spectator.

Faculty

Introduction to Japanese Anime

Open, Lecture—Fall

Japanese animation, or anime, is a global phenomenon—a cultural export that has come to stand in for Japan itself in much of the world. Defined by a national identity as “Japanese” but beloved by an international audience of fans and creators, anime is a contradictory and diverse group of texts that allow us to begin to think about what it means for culture to flow globally in the 20th and 21st centuries. In this course, students will learn about the history of Japanese animation from the 1920s to the present. The course offers broad exposure to Japanese animation, from mainstream television cartoons to experimental art animation, but with an emphasis on the specific tradition of Japanese animation production that came to be known globally as “anime.” We will discuss anime as an intermedial consumer art form deeply connected to other media, such as manga (comic books), toys, video games, literature, music, traditional art, and live-action film. Our own experiences of anime as consumers/fans will be placed in context with academic theories of animation and methods for the study of anime. Students will learn about the Japanese cultural and historical context while also examining their own position in creating global anime reception. Assignments will help students develop research skills in Japanese studies, formal film-analysis skills, and creative methods for scholarly engagement. Themes will include production and marketing (e.g., “the media mix”), technology and labor, gender and sexuality, propaganda and political interests (e.g., “Cool Japan”), race and colonialism, genre, auteurism, reception and fan culture (e.g., “otaku” and “fujoshi”), religion, comedy, video games and interactive media, and intertextuality. Works discussed will include Astro Boy; films by Miyazaki Hayao, Galaxy Express 999, Sailor Moon, Doraemon, Mobile Suit Gundam, Naruto, manga by Hagio Moto, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Osomatsu-san, stop-motion animation by Kawamoto Kihachirō, and the works of Shinkai Makoto.

Faculty

Music and Sound for Film

Open, Seminar—Spring

This class will explore the ways in which music and sound serve the dramatic intent of a film. As coinhabitants of the aural spectrum, a film’s score and sound design are increasingly called upon to interact. Working in one of these areas now implies an understanding of the other. This class will cover: spotting music/sound with a director, choosing musical themes that correspond to the dramatic needs of a film, using sound design to highlight facets of the world and its characters, conceptualizing the sound world of a film, and designing the music and sound so that they occupy different but complementary spaces. The marriage of sound and music has deep roots in the history of cinema, and special attention will be paid to great works of the past. There will be weekly listening assignments to survey the history of film music and to explore current trends. Technical topics covered will include: intro to ProTools and an overview of basic mixing; concepts in music editing; use of effects such as compression, eq, reverb, and filters; file organization, management, and workflow. Students will work on sound design and/or scoring concepts using video clips that I provide or, better yet, using works from their fellow students in the film department. Music students will be asked to compose cues and nonmusic film students will be asked to sound design scenes, with the goals being technical and expressive clarity.

Faculty

Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art

Open, Seminar—Fall

Art seems to be an inextricable part of human life. The question that guides this class is seemingly simple: What is art? As will soon become clear, answering this question proves to be exceedingly difficult; for example: Are trees works of art? Is an iPhone a work of art? Is a movie a work of art? Are all movies works of art? Is a doodle in your notebook a work of art? It may turn out that no definitive answer to our guiding question is possible; however, without demarcating between what counts as art and what doesn’t, art refers to everything and, consequently, to nothing special. This class investigates how works of art become meaningful. The narrative of the class traces the different frameworks used by philosophers over the last 2,500 years to pursue this question. We will follow a historical narrative, learning how these frameworks have responded both to each other and to the artworks of their time. We will read texts by Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Danto, Benjamin, and others, as well as analyze artworks from Sophocles, William Shakespeare, Édouard Manet, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, John Cage, Kara Walker, Jordan Peele, and many others. At the end of the semester, our aim will be to articulate what is so special about art and why we care about it.

Faculty

Psychocinematics: Film, Psychology, and Neuroscience

Open, Small Lecture—Fall

Why are movies so compelling to us? When you think about it, it is odd to spend so much time sitting still in a chair, in the dark, staring at a flat screen and watching flickering light without the possibility of interacting with the depicted characters or affecting their actions in any way. Philosophers argue that movies tap into our dream mechanisms. Psychologist Ed Tan calls films “emotion machines.” Neuroscientist Jeffrey Zacks claims that movies hijack evolutionary mechanisms of mind that evolved for other purposes. In this perceptual psychology course, our focus will be on how study of fundamental faculties of mind and body—perception, attention, emotion, and memory—can inform our experience of viewing and, perhaps, making movies. Switching our point of view, we will also investigate how the study of film can advance our understanding of the workings of perception, attention, emotion, and memory. We will watch some films together and discuss clips from many others that you select and present to the seminar group. This is a good course for people who are interested in interdisciplinary work that integrates artistic and scientific approaches to the material at hand. The course format is a small lecture (30 people), with one lecture and one small seminar (10 people) every week.

Faculty

Art and Visual Perception

Open, Small Lecture—Spring

Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak. —John Berger

Psychologists and neuroscientists have long been interested in measuring and explaining the phenomena of visual perception. In this course, we will study how the visual brain encodes basic aspects of perception—such as color, form, depth, motion, shape, and space—and how they are organized into coherent percepts, or gestalts. Our main goal will be to explore how the study of visual neuroscience and art can inform each other. One of our guides in these explorations will be the groundbreaking gestalt psychologist Rudolf Arnheim, who was a pioneer in the psychology of art. The more recent and equally innovative text by the neuroscientist Eric Kandel, Reductionism in Art and Brain Science, will provide our entry into the subject of neuroaesthetics. Throughout our visual journey, we will seek connections between perceptual phenomena and what is known about brain processing of visual information. This is a course for people who enjoy reflecting on why we see things as we do. It should hold particular interest for students of the visual arts who are curious about scientific explanations of the phenomena that they explore in their art, as well as students of the brain who want to study an application of visual neuroscience. The course format is a small lecture (30 people), with one lecture and one small seminar (10 people) every week.

Faculty

Contextualizing Communications: The Poetics of Seeing

Open, Seminar—Fall

Seeing is not a natural process or an individual activity; rather, it is embedded in social forces and imbued with historically and spatially constructed meanings. This seminar is designed to interrogate how we communicate and to make meaning from such a vantage point. While the course takes a broadly construed sociology of culture as its point of departure, it also understands sociology as what a British sociologist called a “parasitical” discipline that frequently disrupts and violates disciplinary borders and boundaries. This course will follow in that vein. Our initial readings—which will include Raymond Williams, Edward Said, Aime Cesaire, and John Berger—will set the conceptual framework for what follows. We will draw upon literature, film and music, (auto)biography, letters, diaries, oral histories, and archival and legal texts emanating from different parts of the globe, with an emphasis on cultural productions about and from the Global South and/or diasporic communities. Our analyses will be framed in terms of a number of themes and questions, relating these to the contexts within which the works were produced. We will start with an overview of historical and methodological questions; examine colonial texts and their critiques, the production of nationalism(s) and identities, censorship, postcoloniality and the violence of “home,” and conclude with transformative visions. It is hoped that this perusal of a diversity of genres and voices will enable us to rethink the relationship of objectivity and subjectivity, fiction, biography and fact, and political and social censorships to which their producers subscribe or against which they struggle, as well as struggles over voice and in the remaking of space. Our goal is to problematize naturalistic “ways of seeing” (a term borrowed from John Berger) and, thus, show how seeing (through sonic, cinematic, and literary constructions) is both an ideologically regimented activity and a creative form of emancipatory action. Rather than seeing our readings as the expression of individual genius, we will engage with them as a way to become astute readers of the material poetics of social life.

Faculty

Travel and Tourism: Economies of Pleasure, Profit, and Power

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Fall

This course takes a long view of travel, seeing it as a “contact zone”—a contradictory site of learning and exchange, as well as exploitation. Among the questions the course will address are the following: What are the reasons for travel historically and in the modern world? What factors draw individuals to travel singly and as members of collectivities? What sites draw the traveler and/or the tourist? What is the relationship between the visited site and the sight of the visitor? How is meaning produced in/through/of particular sites? How do these meanings differ, depending on the positionality of the traveler? What makes particular sites inviting? What is the relationship between the visitor and the local inhabitant? Can one be a traveler in one’s own home (site)? What is the relationship between travel and tourism, pleasure and power in/through travel? How are race, gender, and class articulated in/through travel? We will examine these questions through a multiplicity of sources—including but not limited to diaries, journals, and memoirs by travelers, as well as films and scholarly writings on travel and tourism. Throughout, the relation between material and physical bodies will remain a central focus of the course. Conference possibilities include analyses of your own travel experiences, examination of travel writings pertaining to specific places, theoretical perspectives on travel and/or tourism, or the political economy of travel. Fieldwork locally is yet another possibility for conference work.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents—A Laboratory for Theatre Artists

FYS—Year

This course is a hands-on testing ground for students who might have a wide range of interests in the theatre. Centered on collaborative methods for creation and performance, Rigorous Action/Happy Moments is geared toward enabling students to find their own artistic voice, creating their own solo and collaborative theatre works, while exploring various artists, influences, and approaches ranging from the New York avant-garde of the 1970s to artists working now. We will cover a wide array of multidisciplinary artists who create performance, investigating both their philosophies and their methodology. Class work will be a combination of readings/discussions and creative exercises where students try their ideas together in space. Additionally, an emphasis on the choreographic perspective will explore various methods, including: assembly, repetition, observation, deconstruction, and care of the moment-to-moment experience. Curiosity, bravery, and a willingness to make mistakes are all encouraged, as these are crucial attributes to any creative process. The course will culminate in a short solo theatre work conceived, created, and performed by each student. Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents meets once a week for two hours and will alternate individual conferences with small-group meetings/conferences to include screenings, field trips, and performances. Students will also enroll in two other theatre components of their choice to complete their Theatre Third. Students are required to attend scheduled Theatre Meetings and Think Tanks and complete a set amount of technical support hours with student productions in the theatre program.

Faculty

1,001 Drawings

Open, Seminar—Fall

This will be a highly rigorous drawing class that pushes young artists to develop a disciplined, sustainable, and experimental drawing practice with which to explore new ways of thinking, seeing, and making art. Each week, you will make between 50 and 100 small works on paper, based on varied, open-ended, unpredictable prompts. These prompts are meant to destabilize your practice and encourage you to interrogate the relationship between a work’s subject and its material process. You will learn to work quickly and flexibly, continually experimenting with mediums and processes as you probe the many possible solutions to problems posed by each prompt. As you create these daily drawings, you will simultaneously work on one large, ambitious drawing that you revisit over the entire semester. This piece will evolve slowly, change incrementally, and reflect the passage of time in vastly different ways from your daily works. This dynamic exchange will allow you to develop different rhythms in your creative practice, bridging the space between an idea’s generation and its final aesthetic on paper. The course will challenge you to ambitiously redefine drawing and, in doing so, will dramatically transform your artmaking practice.

Faculty

The Face Is a Clock: Drawing Portraits

Open, Seminar—Spring

Portraiture has a rich and complex history. Drawing a face is an ideally challenging way for students to learn how to render realistically through line, light, shadow, volume, and space. Intentionally manipulating this same graphic language can embed portraits with the complex emotional and psychological states that lie beyond visual representation. Politically, socially, and historically, portraits have been a means to establish class and gender, provide immortality, and document the human condition. In this course, you will learn the fundamentals of drawing through the subject of the portrait. The act of looking will be primary for us, as seeing the face accurately—as it truly exists—is a constant challenge for artists. As the semester progresses, we’ll move from observational portraits to interpreted, experimental drawings that challenge traditions and norms of portraiture. As you learn to draw what you see, you’ll simultaneously begin to reveal qualities not visible—those psychological, political, symbolic, and personal aspects of portraits that make them individual and unique. Students will work on daily drawing exercises both inside and outside the studio in order to build a disciplined drawing practice. For context, we will look at a range of historical and contemporary examples of portraiture and will visit New York City exhibitions to see artworks. A visiting artist working in portraiture will visit class, as well.

Faculty

Senior Studio

Advanced, Seminar—Year

This course is intended for seniors interested in pursuing their own artmaking practice, both more deeply and for a prolonged period of time. Students will maintain their own studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. The course will incorporate prompts that encourage students to make art across disciplines; it will culminate in a solo gallery exhibition during the spring semester, accompanied by a printed book that documents the exhibition. We will have regular critiques with visiting artists and our faculty, discuss readings and myriad artists, take trips to galleries and artist’s studios, and will participate in the Visual Arts Lecture Series. Your artmaking practice will be supplemented with other aspects of presenting your work—writing an artist statement, interviewing artists, and documenting your art, along with a range of professional-practices workshops. This is an immersive studio course meant for disciplined art students interested in making work in an interdisciplinary environment.

Faculty

Visual and Studio Arts Fundamentals: Materials and Play

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring

This course serves as an introduction to the fundamental elements, processes, and techniques of the visual arts. It will center on prompts based in foundational areas across the visual arts: drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, sound art, collage, and related mixed-media processes. We’ll discuss these mediums through image presentations, videos, and gallery/museum visits. Students will then make art in those areas, experimenting with new materials, processes, and ideas. Materials will be provided, and you’ll be encouraged to discover through play. Emphasis will focus on developing your creative imagination and building visual literacy. This class culminates in an end-of-semester exhibition.

Faculty

Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Spring

Since the early 20th century, artists have explored performance art as a radical means of expression. In both form and function, performance pushes the boundaries of contemporary art. Artists use the medium for institutional critique, social activism, and to address the personal politics of gender, sexuality, and race. This course approaches performance art as a porous, transdisciplinary medium open to students from all disciplines, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, filmmaking, theatre, dance, music, creative writing, and digital art. Students learn about the legacy of performance art from the 1970s to the present and explore some of the concepts and aesthetic strategies used to create works of performance. Through texts, artists’ writings, video screenings, and slide lectures, students are introduced to a range of performance-based artists and art movements.

Faculty

Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Fall

Experiment and explore contemporary performance art. Surveying a range of important artworks and movements, we will review the histories, concepts, and practices of performance art. Born from anti-art, performance art challenges the boundaries of artistic expression through implementing as material the concepts of space, time, and the body. Examples of artists that we will review are John Cage, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Martha Rosler, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Pope.L, Laurie Anderson, Anne Imhof, Joseph Beuys, Janine Antoni, Suzanne Lacy, Narcissister, Pauline Oliveros, Aki Sasamoto, and Anna Halprin, to name a few. Dialogues introducing performance art are utilized in sculpture, installation art, protest art, social media, video art, happenings, dada, comedy, sound art, graphic notation, scores, collaboration, and movement. Students will be able to relate the form and function of performance art though workshopping ideas, experimentation, improvisation, and movement—thereby developing the ability to confidently perform in any manner of the performance-art genre.

Faculty

Episodes

Open, Seminar—Spring

The use of the episode is both ancient and modern and is central to storytelling in everything from The Arabian Nights to telenovelas, from Netflix to The Canterbury Tales, from comics to true-crime podcasts. Episodes differ from chapters in a novel and from short stories and can have many changing characters and plot lines. Episodes are disinclined toward resolution but love time, hunks of it, and do well depicting both the daily and the historical. We will be reading, looking at, and discussing episodes in several forms and, for conference work, writing six episodes over the semester, supported by small brainstorming groups as we go forward. This course may be taken with Words and Pictures as a year course.

Faculty