Visual and Studio Arts

Students enrolled in a visual and studio arts course at Sarah Lawrence College work in a new environment created to support the College’s unique arts pedagogy: a philosophy of teaching that not only encourages individual investigation into the nature of the creative process but also provides a setting to foster the exchange of ideas across artistic disciplines.

While courses are taught in the traditional seminar/conference format, the Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Visual Arts Center is specifically designed to break down barriers among visual-arts media. The Center features ateliers that give each student an individual work area for the year, while its open classrooms and movable walls encourage students to see and experience the work of their peers in painting, sculpture, photography, filmmaking, printmaking, drawing, visual fundamentals, and digital imagery. Students may enhance their work in a chosen discipline by enrolling in a workshop—a minicourse—selected from 10 offerings annually. In some visual-arts courses, a particular workshop will be required. This recently developed program expands students’ technical skills and enables them to utilize different media in the development of their work. Workshops are open to students of any visual-arts medium, promoting even more interaction and understanding across disciplinary boundaries and furthering the College’s overall emphasis on interdisciplinary work

The Heimbold Center, a high-performance “green” building, embodies an environmentally friendly approach that features safe alternatives to toxic materials, special venting systems, and an abundance of natural light. In addition to well-equipped, open-space studios, individual ateliers, and digital technology in every studio and classroom, the building also includes space for welding, woodworking, and clay and mold making; a common darkroom, digital imaging lab, and critique rooms; and a sound studio, screening room, and large exhibition area. The Center’s doors open onto a miniquad, allowing students from throughout the College both access to and inspiration from their peers’ works-in-progress.

The visual-arts curriculum is reflected in—but not confined to—the Heimbold Center’s visual-arts facilities. The building also houses courses in visual culture, increasing the integration of the creative arts and the humanities. The College’s proximity to New York City brings recognized artists to campus to lecture and also gives the students the opportunity to visit hundreds of galleries and some of the world’s major museums.

Faculty members are working artists who believe in the intrinsic value—for all students—of creative work in the visual arts, the inseparable connection of the creative arts and the liberal arts, and the necessity of art in life. All visual-arts faculty and their students have access to technicians, based in the Heimbold Center, who can provide technical support in most areas.

In 2018-19, various workshops in the visual-arts disciplines will be offered that serve to broaden students’ vocabulary and technical skills. In the past, workshops in Metalworking, Letterpress, Web Design, Drawing, Water Color, Woodworking, Artist Books, Final Cut, Sculpture Methods, and Photoshop have been offered.

2018-2019 Courses

Visual and Studio Arts

Architectural Design Studio: Animating Fragments —From Waste Streams to the Public Realm

Open , Seminar—Spring

This one-semester studio will provide an introduction to design in the built environment—from objects to buildings to public spaces—through the lens of reuse. In this vibrant time of architecture production in New York City, the byproducts of high-end construction are piling up. We will investigate this waste, including discarded materials and full-scale mockups, to understand how we might give it new life. Simultaneously, we will explore the city’s proliferating network of open and accessible green spaces in order to imagine new kinds of symbiotic relationships between the two through the design of accessory structures that tap into these waste streams. Students will begin the semester researching the production of urban developments and open-air public spaces in New York City, which will establish the base material for individual design projects. From there, we will outline a basic design methodology, combining building technology with community needs and investigations into typology, form, and program. In all areas of design, students are encouraged to think through critical, precise, and irreverent acts of reuse as a means through which to propose new and possible futures for the worlds around them.

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Sculpture: Time as Material

Open , Seminar—Fall

In this course, we will treat time as a central element in the conception, display, and understanding of materials-based art practices. While we will consider integrating sculpture with media and with methods more typically described as “time-based” (such as performance, digital media, film/video), students will also be challenged to consider the potential of time, duration, and process to act upon or activate seemingly inert materials. We will attempt to propose alternatives to the idea of artworks as fixed forms and instead consider how objects, images, and materials might transform, evolve, decay, or accumulate over time. Through readings, discussion, and studio projects, we will examine ideas about time from a variety of perspectives (scientific, historical, musical, and cinematic, among others) and think about how these temporal modes can inform our making and lived experience of objects and art.

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Architectural Design Studio: Collecting, Combining, Collaging Architecture—and Other Acts of Radical Reuse

Open , Seminar—Fall

This one-semester studio will provide an introduction to design in the built environment—from objects to spaces, buildings, and campuses—through the lens of reuse. At a time of both unprecedented clutter and increasing scarcity, we will take on design as an act of negotiation between what is found, what is available, and what is imagined. In other words, we will make architecture from the architecture that surrounds us: harness its materials, reimagine its form, and consider its use. Students will begin the semester doing field research on local spaces and spatial conditions, working through fundamental issues of scale and representation to establish the base material for individual design projects. From there, we will outline a basic design methodology, combining material research with investigations into form, organization, and program. In all areas of design, students are encouraged to think through critical, precise, and irreverent acts of reuse as a means through which to propose new and possible futures for the worlds around them. Experience with drawing, modeling, and other analog or digital design media is helpful but not required.

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First-Year Studies: New Genres: Drawing Machines

Open , FYS—Year

In 2016, So Kanno and Takahiro Yamaguchi used skateboards and pendulums to create “The Senseless Drawing Bot,” a self-propelling device that sprays abstract lines on walls. Meanwhile, François Xavier Saint Georges used power tools to create “The Roto,” a small circular machine that prints orbital graphite patterns on flat surfaces. In 2011, Eske Rex, a designer in Copenhagen, built two nine-foot towers to stage a double harmonograph for Milan Design Week. Joseph Griffiths uses exercise bikes. Alex Kiessling uses robot arms. Olafur Eliasson simply vibrates balls covered in ink across paper. For centuries, artists have been obsessed with machines that make pictures; today, their ongoing experiments with software, robots, and weird bizarro contraptions have become a core aspect of the studio’s relationship to technology. While many drawing machines look backward through history for ideas about mechanized art, contemporary projects are often based on computer programs that engage programming as an artistic practice. Part art studio, part history, part programming, and part mad scientist lab with a bit of eBay salvage thrown in, the goal of this FYS course is to study the history of drawing machines with the intent of turning ordinary objects into marvelous machines and goofy gadgets that know how to draw—hopefully, in a way all their own.

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First-Year Studies: The New Narrative Photography

Open , FYS—Year

A photograph presented alone and without a descriptive caption is like a simple utterance: “ooh!” or “aah!” or “huh?” When pictures are presented in groups with accompanying text and perhaps in conjunction with political or poetic conceptual strategies, however, any statement becomes possible. Collectively, photographs can begin to function as a sentence, a paragraph, or a larger discourse. Whether working in fiction or nonfiction, artists such as Alan Sekula, Robert Frank, Susan Meiselas, Taryn Simon, Jim Goldberg, Roni Horn, and others have transformed the reach of the photograph. Collectively, they have created a medium: The New Narrative Photography. In this course, students will study the work of artists and others and will create their own bodies of work. If you have a story to tell or a statement to make, this course is open to you. No previous photographic experience is necessary nor is any special equipment. The opportunity to forge a new medium is rare. This course aims to create the forum and the conditions necessary for all to do so in a critical and supportive workshop environment.

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Drawing: Seeing in Reverse

Open , Seminar—Year

Drawing is an endlessly exciting art form that encourages experimentation and embraces mistakes. Drawing reveals the integral relationship between seeing and thinking. This course will challenge what you think of as drawing. In the fall semester, you will learn about the tools and techniques of traditional, observational drawing (line, value, space, composition/paper, graphite, ink, charcoal, conte, and others) and will learn how to accurately translate what you see onto paper. In the spring semester, you will make more open-ended, experimental, idea-based drawings within more complex subjects and combinations of materials, finishing with a large-scale, independent project. Throughout the year, you will learn how to express yourself through drawing: How will your drawings be different from everyone else’s? Our subjects will include the human figure, space, memory, portraiture, time, text, still life, installation, imagination, collaboration, color, and humor. We will not keep our subjects at a distance but, rather, will try to connect with them, move around and through them, and deconstruct them in order to truly understand what we are drawing. Ultimately, what can your drawings reveal beyond what we all plainly see? This course will ask you to look at your world with intensity and render the visible and invisible on paper. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, slides, and museum visits. Visiting artists and studio visits with artists in New York City will be scheduled.

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Painting and Words: Definitely Not Floccinaucinihilipilification

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Open to students who have had painting courses in college or advanced high-school level.

The relationship between art and language has been explored in dynamic ways throughout art history and in contemporary painting. From ancient cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs to Cy Twombly’s scrawled relief paintings and Alfred Jensen’s impasto diagrams, the fusion of language into paint has long been at the core of visual expression. How does the way a word looks—its shape, color, size—relate to what it says? How many ways can you read a work of art? In this intermediate painting course, students will probe the dynamic between the formal qualities of language and its content: personal, political, social, formal. Via the prism of text, we will paint color and space through diverse processes (observational, invented, historical, abstract). Primarily an oil-painting class, we will also experiment with watercolor, acrylic, encaustic, and other nontraditional painting mediums. In this class, you will be asked to explore the exciting dynamics of the painted word. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, and slide lectures. Visiting artists and studio visits with artists in New York City will be scheduled.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio II

Advanced , Seminar—Spring

Open to juniors and seniors with extensive prior visual art experience. Please bring examples of your work to our interview. Students interested in senior exhibitions are encouraged to interview.

This interdisciplinary studio course is intended for advanced visual-arts students to transition their art making from an assignment-based approach to individual studio practice. The course will support students working in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, performance, and new genres. 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. In addition to weekly critiques, we will discuss how formal aspects and expressive strategies of art making in the 20th and 21st century are considered and evaluated in their social and political contexts. Relationships of past art to the development of contemporary art will be addressed. During the fall semester, students will be given open-ended prompts from which they will be asked to experiment with how they make work and will be encouraged to work across mediums. In the spring, students will focus exclusively on their own interests and will be expected to develop a sophisticated, cohesive body of independent work accompanied by an artist’s statement and exhibition. The class will feature image presentations, readings, group discussions, studio critiques, trips to artist’s studios, and participation with the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for disciplined art students interested in making art in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Beginning Painting

Open , Seminar—Fall and Spring

Technical exploration, perception, development of ideas, intuition, invention, representation, and communication are at the core of this class. We will begin the course in an observational mode, introducing practical information about the fundamentals of painting: color, shape, tone, edge, composition, perspective, and surface. We will paint still lifes and transcribe a masterwork. We will look at the work of both old masters and contemporary painters. We will also take a trip to a museum to look at paintings “in the flesh.” The course will include demonstrations of materials and techniques, slide presentations, films and videos, reading materials, homework assignments, and group and individual critiques. In the second half of the course, we will complete a series of projects exploring design principles as applied to nonobjective (abstract) artworks. Using paint, with preparatory collages and drawings, we will engage with strategies for utilizing nonobjective imagery towards self-directed content. Each week will bring a new problem, with lessons culminating in independent paintings. Projects will emphasize brainstorming multiple answers to visual problems over selecting the first solution that comes to mind. The last part of the class will be devoted to a personal project. Students will establish their theme of interest, which they will present during our conference meetings. Then they will carry out research and preparatory work and develop either a large-scale painting or a series of paintings. Drawings in this class will often be produced in tandem with paintings in order to solve painting problems and illuminate visual ideas. Revisions are a natural and mandatory part of the class. The majority of our time will be spent in a studio/work mode. The studio is a lab where ideas are being worked out and meaning is made. It is important that you are curious, that you allow yourself to travel to unexpected places, and that you do not merely rely on skills and experiences that are already part of you but, rather, challenge yourself to openness and progress. The process will be part critical thinking, part intuition, and in large part physical labor. Working rigorously during class and on homework assignments is required. The goal of this class is to establish the roots of a healthy and generative personal studio practice. You will also strengthen your knowledge of art history and take into consideration the wider cultural, historical, and social contexts within which art is being made today.

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Printmaking: Intaglio

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course is designed to introduce students to a range of intaglio techniques while assisting them in developing their own visual imagery through the language of printmaking. Throughout the semester, students will practice dry point, etching, aquatint, soft ground, and sugar lift techniques. Students will explore the history of printmaking media, the evolution of subject matter and technique, and the relationship of graphic arts to the methods of mechanical reproduction. Course objectives will include becoming familiar with using a print shop, printing an edition, talking critically about one’s work, and developing a process of visual storytelling. The course will be supplemented with technical demonstrations, critiques, field trips, and slide lectures.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio

Open , Seminar—Fall

This interdisciplinary studio course is intended for advanced visual-arts students to transition their art making from an assignment-based approach to individual studio practice. The course will support students working in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, performance. and new-genres art forms. 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. In addition to weekly critiques, we will discuss how formal aspects and expressive strategies of art making in the 20th and 21st centuries are considered and evaluated in their social and political contexts. Relationships of past art to the development of contemporary art will be addressed. We will also examine how traditional mediiums of painting and drawing relates to more contemporary mediums such as film, photography, video, and performance. During the fall semester, students will be given open-ended prompts from which they will be asked to experiment with how they make work and will be encouraged to work across mediums.The class will feature image presentations, readings, group discussions, studio critiques and trips to artist’s studios, and participation with the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for disciplined art students interested in making art in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Narrative in Contemporary Painting

Open , Seminar—Spring

Taking inspiration from the history of art, literature, and cinema, students will be introduced to a variety of approaches on how to construct narratives in the language of contemporary painting. What is narrative, and can it be expressed abstractly as well as literally? How can color, value, and mark-making be used in painting to create a narrative progression and a passage of time? Students will explore various narrative themes, sourcing from autobiography, political events, literature, films, mediated images, and other personally relevant content. Observational painting will be used as a point of departure to examine various strategies to construct a visual world. Students will proceed to develop technical and conceptual skills that are crucial to the painting process. The work will fluctuate between in-class projects and homework assignments. The curriculum will be supplemented with Power Point® presentations, film screenings, selected readings, field trips, and group critiques.

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Printmaking: Relief

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course is designed to introduce students to a range of intaglio techniques while assisting them in developing their own visual imagery through the language of printmaking. Students will work with linoleum and wood-block materials. Students will develop drawing skills through the printmaking medium and experiment with value structure, composition, mark-making, transparency, and interaction of color. Students will explore the history of printmaking media, the evolution of subject matter and technique, and the relationship of graphic arts to the methods of mechanical reproduction. Course objectives will include becoming familiar with using a print shop, printing an edition, talking critically about one’s work, and developing a process of visual storytelling. The course will be supplemented with technical demonstrations, critiques, field trips, and slide lectures.

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Silkscreen Printing

Open , Small seminar—Fall

In this semester-long course, we will cover the fundamental techniques of silkscreen printing, a form of printmaking that utilizes and expands upon the simple concept of the stencil. This course will cover a range of basic techniques, including hand-cut stencils, printing multiple layers, and using photosensitive emulsion to create both hand-drawn images and digitally-based ones, utilizing text, half-tone dots, and CMYK separation. Students will be encouraged to independently explore subject matter, ideas, and aesthetic modes of their own choosing as we develop an accumulative understanding of technical knowledge. The course’s goal will be to master the process of silkscreen in service of developing a sophisticated language using this versatile medium.

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Narrative, Printmaking, and Artist Books

Open , Small seminar—Spring

In this course, we will explore different ways that narrative can be achieved through conventional and experimental applications of printmaking and bookmaking. How is a story told in a single panel? Over a series of pages? How might conventional means of storytelling be subverted and abstracted, stories retold? How do the formal choices in making an object affect the way a narrative unfolds? Does a story always require words? And does the form of a book always imply narrative no matter how abstract its content? Over the course of the semester, a variety of basic printmaking processes will be covered—including monotype, silkscreen, and relief cut—along with an assortment of bookbinding techniques, including simple folding, pamphlet binding, accordion binding, Japanese stab binding, coptic binding, and other types of stitching that can be employed. Students will be asked to produce both one-of-a-kind artist books and easily reproducible books to then be distributed on the Sarah Lawrence College campus.

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Things and Beyond Representation

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

This course will explore the possibilities for creative production inspired by a range of inquiries, including readings, discussions, critiques, looking at the work of contemporary artists, and observing the work of students in the class as their work unfolds. We will be reading a range of texts, as well as making museum and/or gallery visits. In doing so, we will consider different ways of thinking about art—which will lead us to consider different ways of defining and producing art. We will explore concepts as ways of discovering different subjectivities and situations in which art can become. We will take a global perspective in looking at contemporary art. The course will experiment with the ways in which texts, images, discussions, and activity can alter one’s inner landscape, enabling different kinds of (art) work to emerge. This is predominantly a studio course that will incorporate a range of activities in conjunction with studio work. We will encounter materials such as cardboard, wood, metal, plaster, and digital media, with technical support provided in the handling of these media. Experience in the visual, performative, industrial, and/or digital arts is helpful.

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Wood, Dust, Nail

Open , Seminar—Year

This yearlong class gets its name from the materials list for a sculpture by the artist David Hammons. What can these three things tell us about contemporary sculpture? How can a wall, dust, and a nail work together to produce sculptural meaning? Hammons was an elusive figure and made artworks that reflected his belief that sculpture could function within the space where the poetic overlapped with the absurd, where absence was just as important as visibility, and where the mundane could reveal profound truths. In this class, we will use this artwork as inspiration as we take a broad look at what it means to make sculpture against the backdrop of contemporary art. We will focus on sculpture’s ability to act as commentary, critique, or even perversion of the existing physical world. Assignments will deal with all aspects of making, including, but not limited to, technique, materials, textures, scavenging, sleep, Metamucil™, omelettes, Amy Winehouse, the state of Georgia, thirst traps, a semicolon, dirt. We will spend time really LOOKING at things and trying to unpack all the ways in which objects in the world can produce complex ideas. The act of looking informs how we think and how we feel, and this class will dwell at length on this. Experimentation will be highly encouraged, as students learn to work within sculptural language and realize the way it can produce meaning on a material, emotional, and even psychological level. The fall semester will focus on assignments aimed at getting students familiar with basic concepts. The spring semester will work toward more individualized projects geared toward students’ interests. In addition, studio demonstrations, in-class presentations, related readings, and field trips to galleries and museums will supplement class time, as we absorb contemporary sculpture in all its possible forms. While this is an open-level seminar, students should expect a demanding class. Be prepared to bring a strong work ethic, along with a desire to challenge yourself. This class is ideal for students with some familiarity working sculpturally and who have ideas they already want to explore.

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Introduction to Digital Imaging

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course covers contemporary digital practice, with an emphasis on Photoshop skills and imaging techniques from scanning to printing. Proper digital workflow is the focus, while working through the basics of image manipulation tools, color correction, and retouching. The skills covered will build a solid basis for further exploration of photography, fine-art printing, and more radical digital experiments. The broader classroom discussion emphasizes computer-generated and -manipulated imagery as a new paradigm in contemporary art, photography, and culture in general. Students are encouraged to explore the potential of digital tools in the context of their personal work—visual arts-related or otherwise—stressing open-ended visual possibilities, as well as technical and conceptual rigor.

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3D Modeling

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course introduces students to the process of constructing digital objects and environments in the virtual space of the computer. Emphasis will be on a strong grasp of form, space, and composition. Fundamentals of hard-edge and organic surface modeling will be thoroughly exercised, while further exploration of the digital tools will cover shading and texturing, lighting, and rendering with the virtual camera. Over the course of the semester, students will be challenged to create increasingly complex objects, environments, and imagery. Through readings and discussion, students will also be encouraged to consider the conceptual ramifications of working in computer space. Contemporary examples of computer-generated imagery in art, film, and media—juxtaposed with historical views on visual illusion from art and philosophy—will form a broader context in which to examine the medium.

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Game Studio: Level Design

Sophomore and above , Small seminar—Fall

This is a guided code and tutorial class designed to introduce students to the basic tools, concepts, and techniques used in game development, including games programming basics, game art, sound effects, music, narrative design, interactables, and game mechanics. Taught in Unity 2D/C#, with Pyskel, Tiled, and LMMS Studio.

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Art From Code

Open , Small seminar—Fall

This course is a “live-coding,” practice-based introduction to visual-arts programming—including color, shape, transformations, and motion—designed for artists with little or no prior programming experience. We’ll meet twice weekly to code together live—working on short, in-class exercises within a larger analysis of the social, cultural, and historical nature of programming cultures. All students will be required to keep a sketchbook and participate in installation. Artists include Reas, Davis, Riley, MacDonald, and others. Taught in p5js, HTML5, and Processing.

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Game Studio: Nonlinear and Interactive Narratives

Sophomore and above , Small seminar—Spring

Prerequisite: Game Studio: Level Design

>As more stories are delivered on interactive devices, our idea of narrative keeps changing. This course explores the strategies of nonlinear, multilinear, modular, and interactive forms of design while analyzing several examples of the nonlinear story design found in games, electronic literature, and interactive art. Students will develop the critical tools to create and analyze interactive projects. All students will keep a sketchbook, participate in game night, develop one nonlinear or interactive narrative, and write one five-page design document. Artists include Leishman, Gysin, Eco, Calvino, Mateas, and others. Taught in Unity 2D/C#, with Pyskel, Tiled, and LMMS Studio.

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New Genres: Systems Aesthetics

Sophomore and above , Small seminar—Spring

Prerequisite: Art from Code

From Gordon Pask’s Colloquy of Mobiles to Paolo Cirio’s Google Will Eat Itself, the shift from object to process or system has had a profound influence on contemporary art. This class looks at the history, theory, and practice of systems aesthetics through art making, readings, lectures, demonstrations, discussions, critiques, and writing. Class time consists of demonstrations of technique, balanced with presentations of artist examples and discussions of systems theorists presenting these practices within the broader social, material, and political aspects of the field. Artists and theorists include Benjamin, Weaver, Shannon, Burnham. Ascott, Luhmann, and others.

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Media Burn: Moving-Image Installation in Practice

Open , Seminar—Year

This yearlong production seminar investigates histories, strategies, and concepts related to the production and exhibition of moving-image installation. Over the year, students will investigate the histories of moving-image installation and create their own works of time-based art. We will look at artworks that use moving images, space, sound, loops, performance, site-specificity, chance operations, multiple channels, and games as tools for communicating ideas. In the fall semester, our work will be inspired by close readings of specific seminal artworks on installation from the late 1960s to the present, including pieces that utilize feedback loops, multiple projections, home movies, and new technologies. Students will simultaneously learn craft and concept through collaborative and individual production. In the spring semester, we will engage with our own concepts and ideas of how time-based installation can be activated. Site-specificity, social practice, and interdisciplinary projects are introduced, and students are encouraged to connect their conference in this class to collaborations in theatre, dance, sculpture, painting, and academics. Conference works involve research, craft, and rigorous conceptual and technical practice and are presented in exhibitions at the end of each semester. A component of the class will take place outside the classroom at museums, galleries, nonprofits, performance spaces, and historic sites in and around New York. P.S. The title of the class, Media Burn, comes from the 1975 performance by the San Francisco-based art collective Ant Farm (https://www.eai.org/titles/media-burn).

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Basic Analog Black-and-White Photography

Open , Seminar—Spring

This is an analog, film-based course that introduces the fundamentals of black-and-white photography: acquisition of photographic technique, development of personal vision and artistic expression, and discussion of photographic history and contemporary practice. Reviews are designed to strengthen the understanding of the creative process, while assignments will stress photographic aesthetics and formal concerns. Conference work entails research into historical movements and individual artist’s working methods. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to make frequent visits to gallery and museum exhibitions and share their impressions with the class. The relationship of photography to liberal arts also will be emphasized. Students will develop and complete their own bodies of work as culmination of their study. This is not a digital photography course. Students need to have at least a 35mm film camera and be able to purchase film and gelatin silver paper throughout the term.

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Intermediate Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

This course is designed to introduce new working methods, with an emphasis on experimentation. Students are encouraged to broaden and deepen their skills and knowledge of photographic techniques and to explore ideas and the overarching concepts that inform them. Through a series of readings and assignments, students will develop their own program of study as they consider influences, observations, and invention. These dynamic themes include: working within a field of influence; subjective freedom versus objective authenticity; the roll of documentary and conceptual approaches to photography; perception, observation, and emotion; and photography as event and narrative. We will be guided by historical precedents and will incorporate research into our studio practice. Students will be introduced to ideas of installation, book layout, editing, and sequencing through bibliomaniac explorations and gallery/museum visits. Students will be expected to work independently outside of class. During class time, we will be sharing critiques and class discussions and view slide presentations of artists’ work. Students will develop a cohesive and original body of photographs and develop a generative practice based on making, thinking, and remaking.

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The Ideas of Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

This course is a hybrid. Each week of the first semester, a different photographic idea or genre will be traced from its earliest iterations to its present form through slide lectures and readings. And each week, students will respond with their own photographic work inspired by the visual presentations and readings. Topics include personal dress-up/narrative, composite photography/photographic collage, the directorial mode, fashion/art photography, new strategies in documentary practice, abstraction/”new photography,” the typology in photography, the photograph in color, and the use of words and images in combination. In the second semester, the emphasis will shift as students choose to work on a subject and in a form that coincides with the ideas that they most urgently wish to express. No previous experience in photography is necessary nor is any special equipment. A desire to explore, to experiment, and to create a personally meaningful body of work are the only prerequisites.

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Problems in Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

This class will deal with the ways in which contemporary artists working in photography discover and develop the problems central to their work. We will use these encounters to help focus and understand our own picture making. Looking at the work of a single artist, or even a single work by an artist, will provide an opportunity to unearth and understand the influences and histories on which these works depend. For example, we could begin with a Cindy Sherman untitled film still and then use Sherman’s work to discuss the conditions of postmodernism, look back at the development of self-portraiture in photography, consider the feminist tradition, and unpack the cultural and political moment in which the work was made. Students will then be asked to respond to the material raised in this discussion with their own work made from their own position and perspective. Students should expect reading and looking assignments, as well as shooting assignments. An interest in art history and a basic knowledge of DSLR cameras, inkjet printing, and Adobe Photoshop is encouraged. Conference work for the course will be an independent photographic project to be shared in critique a number of times each semester.

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Color

Open , Seminar—Fall

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, as well as its personal, psychological, symbolic, expressive, and emotional consequences.

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Lost and Found: Collage and the Recycled Image

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course will consider the use, reuse, and, therefore, possible reinterpretation of existing images and discarded materials in the production of new works of art. The creative potential of viewing the familiar in a new context will be the focus of our exploration. Issues such as recognition, replication, prime objects, invention within variation, appropriation, history, and memory (both personal and cultural) will be examined. Each student will be expected to nurture and sustain a unique and individual point of view. The course will revolve around daily exercises, clearly-defined problems, and assignments both inside and outside the studio that are designed to sharpen awareness and reinforce the kind of disciplined work habits necessary to every creative endeavor.

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Paris, City of Light and Violence

Open , Seminar—Fall

So they had begun to walk about in a fabulous Paris, letting themselves be guided by the nighttime signs, following routes born of a clochard phrase…. —Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch

For centuries now, the city of Paris, France, has held an actual and imaginary intensity in the lives of many. In this seminar in cultural anthropology, we will explore a number of themes and forces that have shaped the cultural and political contexts of life in Paris through the 19th and 20th centuries and on into the 21st—from great works of art to transformations in urban design to the politics of colonialism, migration, racism, marginalization, and police surveillance, as well as critical events of state and collective violence. In walking (conceptually) about a Paris at once fabulous and haunted, we will come to know various signs of being and power in this renowned city. In attending to key events in the recent history of Paris—in 1942, 1961, 1968, 1995, and 2015, for instance—we will work toward developing a comprehensive sense of the many social, cultural, and political dimensions of urban experience in la ville lumière, the “city of light,” in both its central arrondissements and its peripheral banlieues. Along the way, we will consider a number of important literary writings (Hugo, Balzac, Baudelaire, Breton, Modiano, Cortázar, Perec, Sebbar, and Bouraoui), films (Godard, Truffaut, Marker, Varda, Tati, Kassovitz, Haneke, and Sciamma), and scholarship (Benjamin, Dubord, Harvey, Kofman, Fanon, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and Latour). Students will be encouraged to undertake conference work on artists, writers, and thinkers associated with Paris or to develop their own anthropological reflections on Paris or another intensive city known to them.

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Genealogies of Modern and Contemporary Art, 1890 to the Present

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture is a superlecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

What was modernism, and how do we describe the shift to what is called contemporary art? Beginning with Henri Matisse, the first half of the course will examine how modernists found a new visual language to navigate a world ravaged by fascism and war; altered by industry, technology, and rationalized forms of labor; and tested by shifting national, ethnic, and gendered identities. What representational strategies did artists use to respond to this upheaval? The fall semester serves as an introduction to the historical avant-gardes in the United States, Mexico, and Europe—including Fauvism, expressionism, cubism, Dada, surrealism, muralism, and abstract expressionism—but it will be organized around thematic questions: What is abstraction as a turn away from the modernized world? What is the relationship between high art and mass culture? What were the political ambitions of modern art, and how were they vocalized materially? How were artists working at the margins speaking back to what they saw to be dominant forms of representation? The second half of the course examines a sea-change that began in the 1960s, as artists tested modernist categories of painting and sculpture; challenged relationships between high art and mass media; incorporated new technologies such as television and video into their art; and questioned the hierarchies of art’s production, reception, and display through protest, activism, and participation. By the end of the ’60s, art faced a crisis that affected its production, medium, spectatorship, and institutions, leading German philosopher Theodor Adorno to note the loss of art’s self-evidence. Looking closely at the art of Europe and the United States and at exchanges with Japan and Brazil, the second half of the course explores a moment of radical artistic critique in which artists transformed traditional categories of artistic production and challenged social, political, and cultural norms. In the last 20 years, all of this shifted with the return to traditional categories of painting and sculpture and the rise of the global art market. We will conclude with a look at contemporary practices as a shift away from avant-garde radicality. Although the course introduces students to some of the issues surrounding art since the 2000s, the main focus in the spring will be to provide a historical context for art from roughly 1960 to 2000—and students will be introduced to major movements, including happenings, pop art, Fluxus, minimalism, conceptual art, site-specificity, Earthworks, feminism, video art, institutional critique, installation, and activist art. Readings will vary from theoretical and scholarly appraisals to artists’ writings and manifestos. Visits to area museums will be part of the curriculum.

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“A Talent for Every Noble Thing”: Art, Architecture in Italy, 1300-1600

Open , Seminar—Year

This course involves an in-depth survey of the major monuments of Italian art and architecture from 1300 to 1600. Equal emphasis will be given to the histories and societies of major city-states such as Pisa, Siena, Florence, Venice, and Rome; the canon of art works by artists such as Giotto, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo; readings of major critics and historians of Italian art; and the broader intellectual trends, social realities, and movements that provide a context for our understanding of the artists’ and, to a lesser extent, the critics’ creations. Thus, unified Italian church designs will be juxtaposed with gender-segregated social practice, theories of genius with concepts of handicraft, pagan ideals with Christian rituals, creative expression with religious orthodoxy, and popes with monks, dukes, financiers, and “humanist” intellectuals. The first semester will focus on a close reading of texts surrounding the first polemical “humanist” pamphlets about art in early modern history—Alberti’s On Painting and On Architecture—and will include works by Erwin Panofsky, Ernst Gombrich, and Michael Baxandall. The second semester will engage the development of the “High” Renaissance and the intellectual and aesthetic debates surrounding Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael as philosophers, naturalists, geniuses, models, and marginalized outcasts. Class papers will deal with developing a vocabulary for compositional analysis, critical issues in Italian intellectual and social history (particularly, gender studies), and varied interpretive strategies applied to works of visual art and culture. Conference projects may involve selected topics in religion, history, and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance and art and architecture in Europe and the “New World” from 1300 to the present.

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Architectures of the Future, 1780 to the Present

Open , Seminar—Year

Through PowerPoint presentations, readings, and discussion, the course gives a challenging, inclusive, and nuanced understanding of buildings and monuments; visionaries and builders; users and functions; and thoughts, practices, and theories of architecture from the Enlightenment to today—all claiming in one way or another to rethink the past, realize the present, and, most importantly, create the future. We will learn to read architecture and read with architects; to contextualize form and its urban, sociopolitical, and epistemological implications; and to see how architecture gives form to context, sense to experience, image to philosophy. Over 200 years, notions of ideal beauty, type, and function mutated to progress in form and function and contemporary iterations in theories of the unformed, the sustainable, the mysterious objective, the abject, and the playful. We will analyze major movements (neoclassical, arts and crafts, technological sublime, art nouveau, Bauhaus, postmodernism, deconstruction, new pragmatism, figural, digital, sustainable) and figures (William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Sam Mockbee, Zaha Hadid, Jean Gang). Readings will be drawn from history, philosophy, literature (realist, sci-fi, and visionary), Diderot, Edmund Burke, William Blake, William Morris, Buckminster Fuller, Heidegger, Foucault Benjamin, and others. Projects, papers, an architectural notebook dedicated to class notes, readings, drawings, musings, etc., and a conference project will be required in the history, theory, philosophy, and sociopolitical context, including women as users, patrons, and makers of art and architecture. Well-formulated design projects are a possibility. This course shares connections with visual arts, film, and a broad range of subjects in the humanities and social sciences.

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Masterworks of Art and Architecture of the Western Tradition: Part 1

Open , Seminar—Fall

This is not a yearlong course, but students taking Part 1 will have priority in enrolling for Part 2. (Not open to students who have taken FYS: Art and History)

This is a discussion-based course with some lecture segments, in which students will learn to analyze works of art for meaning against the backdrop of the historical and social contexts in which the works were made. It is not a survey but will have as its subject a limited number of artists and works of art and architecture, about which students will learn in depth through both formal analysis and readings. The goal is to teach students to deal critically with works of art, using the methods and some of the theories of the discipline of art history. The “Western Tradition” is understood here geographically, including works executed by any political or cultural group from the Fertile Crescent, the Mediterranean, and extending to Europe and the Americas. Part 1 (fall semester) will include works from Ancient Mesopotamia through the end of the Middle Ages. Part 2 (spring semester) will cover works from about 1500 to the present.

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Masterworks of Art and Architecture of the Western Tradition: Part 2

Open , Seminar—Spring

This is not a yearlong course, but students taking Part 1 will have priority in enrolling for Part 2. (Not open to students who have taken FYS: Art and History)

This is a combination lecture and discussion-based course, in which students will learn to analyze works of art for meaning against the backdrop of the historical and social contexts in which the works were made. It is not a survey but will have as its subject a limited number of artists and works of art and architecture, which students will learn about in depth through both formal analysis and readings. The goal is to teach students to deal critically with works of art, using the methods and some of the theories of the discipline of art history. The “Western Tradition” is understood here geographically, including works executed by any political or cultural group from the Fertile Crescent, the Mediterranean, and extending to Europe and the Americas. Part 1 (fall semester) will include works from Ancient Mesopotamia through the end of the Middle Ages. Part 2 (spring semester) will cover works from about 1500 to the present.

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Object, Site, and Installation

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

How do we understand sculpture’s literalism, its insistent presence in time and space? Taking our cues from the histories of sculpture, readings in sculptural aesthetics, and theories of objects and social space, this focused seminar examines how modern and contemporary artists have defined sculpture in relation to the body, light, and touch; the pedestal, museum, and public sphere; commodities and everyday objects; and other media such as photography, film, video, and sound. We begin with the legacies of neoclassicism and the fraught status of sculpture in modernism and conclude our story with large-scale, immersive installations in contemporary art. Along the way, we find artists remaking the category of sculpture by blurring the boundaries between public and private; using reproducible and two-dimensional media; and making objects that incorporated commodities, things, bodies, and detritus. The course will touch on discourses of modernism, surrealism, minimalism, site-specificity, installation, and participatory art while offering students a toolkit for thinking about theories of objects and relational aesthetics; race, representation, and monumentality; social and public space; and histories of installation and display. Exploring a range of focused case studies—whenever possible, in situ—this course asks what a 20th-century sculpture was and how it operated in the public realm. This course will also entail a focused consideration of the Bruce Nauman exhibition at MoMA and a field trip to Dia:Beacon; students will be encouraged to focus their conference papers on works seen locally.

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Theories of Photography

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

What is a photograph? The question seems simple enough, given the pervasiveness of photographs in our image-saturated world. Yet, as this course will explore, a photograph is a representational framework with competing rhetorical meanings. On the one hand, it is a verisimilitude of the visual world, a proof, resemblance, or transcription. On the other, a photograph is a pictorial invention, a fabricated image that is shot through with its own social and pictorial conventions, located in part through the photograph's framing, lighting, cropping, and point of view. Tracing these contradictory definitions, this course explores how the photograph has been defined and tested from its origins. The seminar will engage—through methodologies of close reading—the canonical texts of photographic theory from key 19th-century sources to modernist and postmodernist texts, as well as more recent writing on race, photography, and the colonization of the body; photography and identity; theories of the archive and representations of labor; photography, war, and violence; and intersections between photography and film. Our discussions of theoretical texts will also be grounded in a consideration of photographs themselves, so that students learn close, analytical visual reading. We will learn to think broadly and diversely about a photograph as an image, an archive, a display, a material thing, and a commodity. We will rely on New York’s rich photographic collections to ground our discussions, and students will be encouraged to focus their conference papers on works seen locally.

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Images of India: Text/Photo/Film

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar addresses colonial and postcolonial representations of India. For centuries, India has been imagined and imaged through the lens of orientalism. In recent decades, writers and visual artists from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have been actively engaged in reinterpreting the British colonial impact on South Asia. Their work presents sensibilities of the colonized in counter narration to images previously established during the Raj. Highlighting previously unexposed impressions, such works inevitably supplement, usually challenge, and frequently undermine traditional accounts underwritten by imperialist interests. Colonial and orientalist discourses depicted peoples of the Indian subcontinent both in terms of degradation and in terms of a romance of empire, thereby rationalizing various economic, political, and psychological agendas. The external invention and deployment of the term “Indian” is emblematic of the epoch, with colonial designation presuming to reframe indigenous identity. Postcolonial writers and artists are, consequently, renegotiating identities. What does it mean to be seen as an Indian? What historical claims are implicit in allegories of ethnicity, linguistic region, and nation? How do such claims inform events taking place today, given the resurgence of Hindu fundamentalism? For this seminar on the semiotics and politics of culture, sources include works by influential South Asian writers, photographers, and filmmakers.

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Landscapes in Translation: Cartographies, Visions, and Interventions

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Fall

Open to students with developed skills in critical thinking and analysis of texts. A background in humanities, social sciences, or arts is preferred.

This course investigates the multiple ways in which landscapes have been imagined, interpreted, physically shaped, and controlled in a variety of historical and contemporary sites. The first section, Cartographies, explores ideas of landscape in Euro-America, Southeast Asia, and colonial-era Africa. The literatures of critical geography and political ecology provide theory and cases illuminating connections between the position of the cartographer and presuppositions about the nature of the territory being mapped and managed. We examine how landscapes on a variety of scales, from “bioregions” to nations, are imagined, codified, and transformed through representational processes and material moves. The second section, Visions, investigates how landscapes are embodied in fine arts and literature, as well as in garden and urban design. Readings draw on examples of landscape design in colonial New England and Indonesia and on contemporary examples of landscape design in response to climate change. We also study reworkings of the urban landscape to integrate more productive, biologically diverse “fringes,” as well as rooftop farms and apiaries. The third section, Control: Emerging Security-Scapes, investigates the rise of militarized “security-scapes” or “surveillance-scapes,” dating from slavery in the United States to the Department of Homeland Security in the post-9/11 era. We analyze the visual surround and landscapes seen by remote drone “pilots” scanning Los Angeles and Somalia and surveillance of the occupied Palestinian landscapes. We draw upon websites, advertisements, and new scholarship in security studies, media studies, and social theory.

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Digital 2D Animation: Shorts

Open , Seminar—Year

No prior drawing experience is necessary.

In this class, students develop animation and short storytelling skills by focusing on the process of creating animated shorts. Instruction includes story development, visualization, character, continuity, timing, digital drawing, rotoscoping, and compositing. All of the production steps required to complete a short animated film are demonstrated and applied through exercises in the fall term, aimed at the production of a final short animated film or PSA by each student or team of students in the spring semester. 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 and 3D space, layering, and lighting. Exercises will enable students with a working knowledge of the software Harmony by Toon Boon. Harmony is a creative, efficient software used in the film and TV animation industry.

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Secondary Currents: Experimental Film in Place

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

This course is part of the Intensive Semester in Yonkers program and is no longer open for interviews and registration. Interviews for the program take place during the previous spring semester.

This production seminar explores, in depth, the rich world of moving images as artistic expression. Students participate by completing a series of exercises and projects supported by lectures, discussion, and screenings. We explore moving-image forms and styles that blur the boundaries between narrative, documentary, and abstract filmmaking. There is, by definition, no formula for this kind of work. Rather, the course introduces the language and techniques of film production alongside strategies for the use of film, performance, and audio design as a means to creatively examine our relationships to place. We direct our concerns to an investigation of our relationship to the legends, histories, topographies, politics, and language of place in its broadest context. Assignments are geared toward generating an ease and familiarity with one’s engagement with place as a media artist. Over the course of the semester, we look at and analyze the pioneering work of many experimental artists, including Gilliam Wearing, Doug Aiken, Pipolotti Rist, Seoungho Cho, Mike Kelly, Shana Moulton, Ragnar Kjartansson, and others. Labs and screenings are designed to introduce the tools and technology necessary for each project. A major component of the course is the ongoing analysis and critique of each other’s work.

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Experimental Film and Animation

Open , Seminar—Spring

No prior experience is necessary.

Whether dealing with abstraction or narrative sequence, experimental films reflect the unique vision of their makers. While most forms of animation serve the particular needs of commercial media, the inclusion of animation in experimental film has the ability to deconstruct an idea or movement and reassemble it in a new way. This course introduces the concepts and practical study of stop-frame animation production as it relates to both sequential and nonsequential narration, movement, space, and time. In a series of short, independent, and collaborative projects, students will learn the techniques and materials necessary to explore a variety of experimental and hand-animation practices and to assemble this work with live-action film/video. The central focus of this course will be on concept development and material exploration for the completion of several short, hybrid films. Students will work in both film and animation and learn to composit this material for the production of their work. A variety of frame-by-frame animation techniques in under-the-camera destructive and constructive animation—including object animation, paper cut-out animation, abstract drawing for animation, and sand animation—will be taught. Through technical instruction, readings, discussion, screenings, and experimentation, we will seek to refresh, extend, and redefine traditional modes of animation and video production. The aim of the course is to explore freely with materials in order to trailblaze fresh narrative and aesthetic possibilities. Final projects may be executed as experimental films, animations, or video projections.

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Documentary Filmmaking: Truth, Freedom, and Bearing Witness

Open , Seminar—Year

Nonfiction is our search for the truth; it is an exploration in humanity—our beauty, complexities, and the often unimaginable. This class is designed for students who, through filmmaking, hope to move humanity one step closer to understanding who we are and how connected our life experiences may be. In this yearlong course, students produce one 15- to 30-minute documentary on the subject of their own choosing. Students will develop treatments, pitch their projects, create production schedules, and work in small teams to create their films. Each week, students must demonstrate clear progress on their projects, including outlined shoot dates, updates on production needs, screening of unedited material, assembly cuts, rough cuts, and the eventual final delivery of their conference films. During class, we will screen short- and long-form documentary films from around the world, complemented by hands-on production techniques and experience. Although this is an open class, students must be prepared to learn camera operation, sound recording, and lighting with diligence and professionalism. Each student will direct his/her own project; however, the crew will be made up of the student’s peers, who will be entrusted with delivering strong technical material. This course will challenge students to think beyond the beautiful gates of Sarah Lawrence and take on subjects and opportunities that are new spaces both emotionally and physically. Nonfiction requires passion for storytelling and, ultimately, a passion for people. We hope to finish the year with a lens on the world that’s evolved to new heights of understanding and compassion.

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Drawing for Animation: Character Design

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course focuses on the concepts of animated-motion and character-design development as a preproduction stage to animation. Students will gain knowledge in drawing by engaging with 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 walk-cycle animatics, 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 tablets will be used throughout the semester. Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, and Final Cut Pro software will be utilized for character boards, model sheets, and walk-cycle animatics. The final project for this course will include a concept-based, fully developed, multi-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 a graphic novel or narrative film.

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Drawing for Animation: Concept Art

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course will explore the preproduction aspects of animation concept development. Students will gain knowledge in character development, background environments, object and prop design, flora and fauna, scene building, color keys, aerial mapping, and techniques for digital painting. Through the development of matte paintings, model sheets, and animatics, students will draw and conceptualize spaces, characters, and props that are visually harmonious and consistent in both form and function. Students will research and produce narrative outlines that include visual and environmental components to establish a full understanding of an animated project. Both hand-drawn materials and digital drawing will be used throughout the semester. Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, and Final Cut Pro software will be utilized for character design, background paintings, and concept presentation animatics. The final conference project for this course will include a fully developed, multicharacter/multi-environment animatic. Knowledge from this course can be used to create and enhance an animation portfolio, to establish a concept outline for an interactive media project, and to help when developing a cast of characters and environments for a graphic novel or an animated film.

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Hand-Drawn Animation

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course focuses on the fundamentals of drawing as they pertain to two-dimensional, hand-drawn animation. Students will gain an understanding of value, motion, and light logic and learn to establish form and structure utilizing concepts in perspective. The course will introduce students to traditional techniques of hand-drawn, frame-by-frame animation, where movement is created through successive, sequential drawings. Students will learn about body mechanics and motion flow in the development of animated characters through techniques that include walk cycles, turning of forms, transformations, holds, squash and stretch, weight, and resistance. Students will design and create pencil test projects using Dragon Frame and Final Cut Pro software. Examples of animations illustrating hand-drawn techniques will be screened regularly. The course will conclude with a final project, for which students develop, conceptualize, and produce a fully animated, hand-drawn short film. Information and skills established in this class can be used to improve basic drawing proficiency, to establish fundamentals for later digital animation production, to create and enhance an animation portfolio, and/or to develop tangible skills for producing graphic novels.​

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Storyboarding for Film and Animation

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course focuses on the art of storyboard construction as the preproduction stage for film and animation. Students will be introduced to storyboard strategies, exploring visual concepts such as shot types, continuity, pacing, transitions, and sequencing. Both classical and experimental techniques for creating storyboards will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on the 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. 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 hi-res animatic in a combined visual, audio, and text presentation format. Knowledge of storyboards and animatics from this class can be used later for idea development and presentation of your project to collaborators, for pitching projects, for professional agencies, and—most importantly—for you, the maker.

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Advanced Projects In Writing for the Screen

Advanced , Seminar—Fall

This one-semester class is for the serious, advanced screenwriter. Consideration for the course requires a writer’s statement about the project you wish to pursue, a list of courses taken, and screenwriting experience, as well as a five-page screenwriting sample that must be emailed in advance of any fall interview to fstrype@sarahlawrence.edu. Once the materials are received, an interview will be scheduled between instructor and student. The seminar will be devoted to reconceptualizing, redeveloping, and restructuring your project-in-process, naturally depending upon your starting point. We will then pursue a rigorous schedule of weekly workshops and diagnostic trouble-shooting critiques. By semester’s end, you will be expected to have a polished draft.

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Food, Agriculture, Environment, and Development

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

Where does the food we eat come from? Why do some people have enough food to eat and others do not? Are there too many people for the world to feed? Who controls the world’s food? Will global food prices continue their recent rapid rise? And, if so, what will be the consequences? What are the environmental impacts of our food production systems? How do answers to these questions differ by place or by the person asking the question? How have they changed over time? This course will explore the following fundamental issue: the relationship between development and the environment, focusing in particular on agriculture and the production and consumption of food. The questions above often hinge on the contentious debate concerning population, natural resources, and the environment. Thus, we will begin by critically assessing the fundamental ideological positions and philosophical paradigms of “modernization,” as well as critical counterpoints that lie at the heart of this debate. Within this context of competing sets of philosophical assumptions concerning the population-resource debate, we will investigate the concept of “poverty” and the making of the “Third World,” access to food, hunger, grain production and food aid, agricultural productivity (The Green and Gene Revolutions), biofuels, the role of transnational corporations (TNCs), the international division of labor, migration, globalization and global commodity chains, and the different strategies adopted by nation-states to “develop” natural resources and agricultural production. Through a historical investigation of environmental change and the biogeography of plant domestication and dispersal, we will look at the creation of indigenous, subsistence, peasant, plantation, collective, and commercial forms of agriculture. We will analyze the physical environment and ecology that help shape but rarely determine the organization of resource use and agriculture. Rather, through the dialectical rise of various political-economic systems such as feudalism, slavery, mercantilism, colonialism, capitalism, and socialism, we will study how humans have transformed the world’s environments. We will follow with studies of specific issues: technological change in food production; commercialization and industrialization of agriculture and the decline of the family farm; food and public health, culture, and family; land grabbing and food security; the role of markets and transnational corporations in transforming the environment; and the global environmental changes stemming from modern agriculture, dams, deforestation, grassland destruction, desertification, biodiversity loss, and the interrelationship with climate change. Case studies of particular regions and issues will be drawn from Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the United States. The final part of the course examines the restructuring of the global economy and its relation to emergent international laws and institutions regulating trade, the environment, agriculture, resource extraction treaties, the changing role of the state, and competing conceptualizations of territoriality and control. We will end with discussions of emergent local, regional, and transnational coalitions for food self-reliance and food sovereignty, alternative and community supported agriculture, community-based resource management systems, sustainable development, and grassroots movements for social and environmental justice. Films, multimedia materials, and distinguished guests will be interspersed throughout the course. One farm field trip is possible, if funding permits. The seminar participants may also take a leading role in a campus-wide event on “food and agriculture,” tentatively planned for the spring. Please mark your calendars when the dates are announced, as attendance for all of the above is required. Attendance and participation is also required at special guest lectures and film viewings in the Geography Lecture and Film Series—approximately once per month in the evening from 6-8 pm. The Web board is an important part of the course. Regular postings of assignments will be made there, along with follow-up commentaries. There will be in-class essays, debates, and small group discussions. Conferences will focus on in-depth analyses of course topics. You will be required to prepare a poster project and paper on a topic of your choice related to the course, which will be presented at the end of each semester in a special session.

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Gender, Race, and Media: Historicizing Visual Culture

Advanced , Seminar—Year

In this course, we will engage with the field of visual culture in order to develop a critical framework through which we may understand visual perception as a set of practices that inform, and are informed by, structures of power. Throughout the semester and the year, we will consider the following questions: What does it mean, from a historical perspective, to live in a society that seemingly privileges visual perception? How does power figure into past and contemporary viewing practices? How have visual technologies been leveraged to situate alternative practices of looking more squarely within the Western public’s fields of vision? We will accomplish this by focusing on the rich scholarship of visual culture theory, media and communication scholarship that foregrounds gender and racial analysis, and the excellent work that bridges media/visual studies and women’s history. We will work with a variety of texts, such as art, advertising, print magazines, television programming, film, and social media. Readings roughly span the 19th century through the contemporary era. Through our readings, we will observe the ways in which the 19th-century production and circulation of images of the “other” and a gendered gaze began to take on a particular potency in the United States and Europe with the growth of industrialization, commercial advertising, and immigration. Twentieth-century scholarship will focus on, among other things, the rise of a global media landscape in which the lines between producers and consumers of media became increasingly blurred. An examination of contemporary viewing practices will enable us to consider some of the implications of a radically fractured “mediascape” and its attendant struggles over ownership of meaning, as media technologies enable visual processes of signification to spin out wildly in unpredictable and surprising directions.

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The Bible and Literature

Open , Lecture—Year

The Bible: the story of all things, an epic of human liberation and imaginative inspiration; a riven and riveting family saga that tops all others in its depiction of romance, intrigue, deception, seduction, betrayal, existential dread, love, reconciliation, and redemption; an account, as one commentator described it, of God’s ongoing “lover’s quarrel” with humanity; a primary source book for major literature across the planet, still powerful in its influence on the style and subject matter of both prose and poetry. In the first term, this course will provide close readings of major biblical narratives and poetry in Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Lectures will explore and interpret a number of patterns and literary types: the major historical narratives of both scriptures; the poetics and speech acts of creation, blessing, promise, covenant, curse, and redemption; the visionary prophetic tradition from Moses to John, the writer of the Apocalypse; the self-reflective theological interpretations of history by Hebrew chroniclers and the New Testament letters of Paul; the sublime poetry of the Psalms, the Song of Songs, and the Apocalypse of John; and the dark wisdom of the Book of Job and of Ecclesiastes. The second term will study the work of major writers who have grounded their own work in biblical themes, narrative patterns, characters, and images and who have so transformed their biblical sources as to challenge their readers to rethink what scripture is and how it works. Selections will be drawn from the work of Dante Alighieri, John Milton, John Bunyan, William Blake, Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison. If there is enough interest in the class, there will be a “Bible Blockbusters” film series on Sunday evenings during the spring term.

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Translation Studies: Poetics, Politics, Theory, and Practice

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

Linguistic proficiency in a foreign language is strongly recommended.

Translation is the process by which meanings are conveyed within the same language, as well as across different languages, cultures, forms, genres, and modes. The point of departure for this course is that all interpretive acts are acts of translation, that the very medium that makes translation possible—language itself—is already a translation. Because difference, “otherness,” or foreignness is a property of language, of every language, perhaps some of the most interesting problems that we will address revolve around the notion of “the untranslatable.” What is it that escapes, resists, or gets inevitably lost in translation? And what is gained? Does linguistic equivalence exist? How do we understand the distinction between literal and figurative, formal and vernacular, expression? And what underlies our assumptions about the authenticity of the original text or utterance and its subsequent versions or adaptations? Although translation is certainly poetics, it is also the imperfect—and yet necessary—basis for all cultural exchange. As subjects in a multicultural, multilingual, and intertextual universe, all of us “live in translation”; but we occupy that space differently, depending on the status of our language(s) in changing historical, political, and geographic contexts. How has the history of translation theory and practice been inflected by colonialism and postcolonialism? How are translation and power linked in the global literary marketplace? Our readings will alternate between the work of theorists and critics who have shaped what we call translation studies and literary texts that thematize or enact the process of translation, beginning with Genesis and the Tower of Babel. In addition, a workshop component to this course, involving visiting members of the foreign-language faculty and other practitioners of translation, will engage students directly in the challenges of translating.

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First-Year Studies: The Senses: Art and Science

Open , FYS—Year

The perceiving mind is an incarnated mind. —Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1964

Sensory perception is a vital component of the creation and experience of artistic works of all types. In psychology and neuroscience, the investigation of sensory systems has been foundational for our developing understanding of brains, minds, and bodies. Recent work in brain science has moved us beyond the Aristotelian notion of five discrete senses to a view of the senses as more various and interconnected—with each other and with the fundamental psychological processes of perception, attention, emotion, memory, imagination, and judgment. What we call “taste” is a multisensory construction of “flavor” that relies heavily on smell, vision, and touch (mouth feel); “vision” refers to a set of semi-independent streams that specialize in the processing of color, object identity, or spatial layout and movement; “touch” encompasses a complex system of responses to different types of contact with the largest sensory organ—the skin; and “hearing” includes aspects of perception that are thought to be quintessentially human—music and language. Many other sensations are not covered by the standard five: the sense of balance, of body position (proprioception), feelings of pain arising from within the body, and feelings of heat or cold. Perceptual psychologists have suggested that the total count is closer to 17 than to five. We will investigate all of these senses, their interactions with each other, and their intimate relationships with human emotion, memory, and imagination. Some of the questions we will address are: Why are smells such potent memory triggers? What can visual art tell us about how the brain works, and vice versa? Why is a caregiver’s touch so vital for psychological development? Why do foods that taste sublime to some people evoke feelings of disgust in others? Do humans have a poor sense of smell? Why does the word “feeling” refer to both bodily sensations and emotions? What makes a song “catchy” or “sticky”? Can humans learn to echolocate like bats? What is the role of body perception in mindfulness meditation? This is a good course for artists who like to think about science and for scientists with a feeling for art. This is a collaborative course. The main small-group collaborative activity is a sensory lab where students will have the opportunity to explore their own sensory perceptions in a systematic way, investigating how they relate to language, memory, and emotion. The other group activities include some museum visits: The American Museum of Natural History has a current exhibit devoted to the senses, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an encyclopedic collection that will be the focus of a group curation assignment, and MOMA holds a wealth of abstract perceptual possibilities that we will investigate together.

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Art and Visual Perception

Open , 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 visual neuroscience and art-making 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 for students of the brain who want to study an application of visual neuroscience.

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First-Year Studies: Forming Poetry/Poetic Form

Open , FYS—Year

Radial, bilateral, transverse: symmetries that change over a life; radical asymmetries. Sea shells unfurl by Fibonacci. Horn, bark, petal: hydrocarbon chains arrange in every conceivable strut, winch, and pylon, ranging over the visible spectrum and beyond into ultraviolet and infrared. Horseshoe crab, butterfly, barnacle, and millipede all belong to the same phylum. Earthworms with seven hearts, ruminants with multiple stomachs, scallops with a line of eyes rimming their shell like party lanterns, animals with two brains, many brains, none. —from The Gold Bug Variations, by Richard Powers

This FYS course is part workshop and part an exploration of reading and writing in established, evolving, and invented forms. We will use An Exaltation of Forms, edited by Annie Finch and Katherine Varnes (featuring essays on form by contemporary poets), alongside books by a wide array of poets and visual artists to facilitate and further these discussions. You will direct language through the sieves and sleeves of the haiku, sonnet, prose poem, ghazal, haibun, etc. Expect to move fluidly between iambic pentameter, erasures, comic poems, and the lipogram (in which you are not allowed to use a particular letter of the alphabet in your poem). Expect to complicate your notion of what “a poem in form” is. We will utliize in-class writing exercises and prompts.

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First-Year Studies: Forms and Fictions

Open , FYS—Year

This class explores the gift of form as it comes to us from writers from around the world. We will read and then write our versions of folk and fairy tales, epics, short stories, short plays, and anything else we care to try. Second semester will involve writing seven episodes of a fiction. In other words, we will learn how to use a short form to write a long work. Class may involve a discussion of literature, a sharing of our writing, an exercise, a collaboration. While we are exploring the boundaries and premises of various forms, we will step over other boundaries—between the real and the imaginary, this world and another, text and picture, and one form and another. Students will be invited to add visual and sound components to their work, if they wish. In addition to classes, students will have an individual conference every other week and a half-group conference on alternating weeks.

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Our World, Other Worlds

Open , Seminar—Year

This course explores prose writing, with an emphasis on the creation of a world. The writing can be fiction or nonfiction and can take place in this world, another, or several. We will explore ideas about this world and writing about this world and others and work on our writing to make it livelier and more real no matter how imaginary our world is. This course runs in two parts, one semester each. You can take one or both parts. One part will involve writing episodes to build a world that, revised, will become a conference project; the other part will work on craft and content exercises of all kinds, with the conference project distinct from the exercises. Readings include folk tales, religious writing, philosophy, fiction, and newspaper items.

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Poetry: What Holds The Unsayable

Open , Seminar—Spring

Poems are not merely feelings, the poet Ranier Maria Rilke has written, but experiences. What is the difference between a feeling and an experience? How can a poem become an experience? How can a poem, originating from the personal, transcend the personal? How can writing the poem transform the writer? Every poem holds the unsayable. How does a poem do that? How can we attempt to do that—using words? If you are interested in these questions, take this course. The course is open to experienced writers, as well as to absolute beginners. If you are interested in these questions, you are welcome. This is a reading/writing course. We will spend time every week reading poems that have already been published (by dead poets and living poets) to see how they were made: music, syntax, line, sound, and image. We might spend time generating new work in class through exercises and experiments. And we will spend time looking closely at one another’s work, encouraging each other to take risks and to move even closer to the mystery of the poem. Each writer in the class will meet with another class member once a week on a “poetry date.” Each writer will be responsible for reading the assigned work and for bringing to class one written offering each week. We will work hard, learn a great deal about poetry and about our own poems, and have a wonderful time.

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A Kind of Haunting: A Poetry Workshop

Open , Seminar—Spring

In James E. Young’s essay, “Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin: The Uncanny Arts of Memorial Architecture,” Young describes Libeskind’s designing of the Jewish Museum in Berlin and how essential to its design was the folding in of fragment, void, interruption, and other iterations of rupture. Of Libeskind’s project, Young writes “His drawings for the museum thus look more like the sketches of the museum’s ruins, a house whose wings have been scrambled and reshaped by the jolt of genocide. It is a devastated site that would now enshrine its broken forms.” In this poetry workshop, we will examine the different ways in which poetry can allow for what cannot be articulated—either because there are simply no words to convey what must be said or because the speaker cannot utter what must be said—and how allowing space for the unspeakable can result in a kind of haunting in a poem. Each class will begin with the discussion of an outside text and then move on to the workshopping of students’ poems. Texts we will be reading and examining include James E. Young’s essay, as well as writings by Jacques Derrida, Mark Fisher, Darian Leader, excerpts from Laura Oldfield Ford’s ‘zines Savage Messiah, excerpts from films, contemporary artwork, and, of course, poetry. Readings from poetry may include work by Cathy Song, Fred Moten, Dionne Brand, Denise Riley, Helene Dunmore, Sean Bonney, Novalis, and the fragments of Hölderlin.

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