Visual and Studio Arts

The visual and studio arts program is dedicated to interdisciplinary study, practice, experimentation, and collaboration among young artists. Students focus on traditional studio methods but are encouraged to bridge those ideas across disciplines, including experimental media and new techniques. The program offers courses in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video art, installation, creative programming, interactive art, interventionist art, games, and simulation. Students pursue a multidisciplinary course of study while gaining proficiency in a wide range of methods and materials. Working within a liberal-arts context, students are also encouraged to form collaborations across fields of practice and often work with musicians, actors, and scenic designers, as well as biologists, mathematicians, architects, philosophers, or journalists. Conference work, senior show, and senior thesis allow the integration of any combination of fields of study, along with the opportunity for serious research across all areas of knowledge.

The Heimbold Visual Arts Center offers facilities for woodworking, plaster, printmaking, painting, video making, and installation. Advanced studios offer individual work areas. In addition to art studios, students have access to critique and presentation rooms and exhibition spaces, including a student-run gallery titled A*Space. Courses are taught in the traditional seminar/conference format, with studio classes followed by one-on-one conferences with faculty. All students are encouraged to maintain a presence through social media and are especially encouraged to supplement their work in studio through participation in the program’s ongoing series of special topic workshops—small three-to-five session minicourses ­that cover current thought in art theory, discipline-specific fundamentals, new technologies, and professional practices. Past workshops have included woodworking, fiber arts, metalwork, printmaking, letterpress, figure drawing, printing for photographers, creative coding, virtual reality, MAX/MSP, online portfolio design, writing an artist’s statement, navigating the art world, the art of critique, applying for grants, and more. Students who invest significant time in the program are encouraged to apply for a solo gallery show in their senior year and may take on larger capstone projects through a yearlong, practice-based senior thesis.

In addition to these resources, the Visiting Artist Lecture Series brings a wide range of accomplished artists to campus for interviews and artist talks. In a feature unique to the program, faculty routinely arrange for one-on-one studio critiques between students and guest faculty or artists who are visiting campus through the lecture series. Art vans run weekly between campus and New York City museums and galleries. Visual-arts students typically hold internships and assistantships in artist studios, galleries, museums, and many other kinds of arts institutions throughout the city.

First-Year Studies Program

Our first-year visual arts program is designed to give students a rigorous, yet self-directed, introduction to a diverse range of studio disciplines. As a visual and studio arts FYS student, you will choose one studio class in the fall and a new studio class in the spring. This approach will give you exposure to two distinctly different disciplines over the course of a year within the general field of visual and studio arts, forming a multidisciplinary foundation at the outset of your studies. In your chosen classes, you will immerse yourself in the materials and ideas vital to that discipline, working with other first-year and upperclass students in class and on conference work.

In addition, the whole student FYS group will participate in FYS Project, a weekly series of experimental, multidisciplinary workshops intended to expose students to the fundamentals of the visual arts and to lay the groundwork for each student’s interdisciplinary experience at the College.

Visual and Studio Arts 2021-2022 Courses

FYS Project

Open, FYS—Fall

FYS Project is a weekly, small-workshop class that introduces first-years to each of the disciplines in the program. Meetings alternate between discussion and critique while also offering small experimental studio projects in printmaking, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and new genres. FYS Project brings all first-years together from the start of their program and encourages a broad range of art-making disciplines and ways of thinking about art. The class ends with a group exhibition intended to introduce first-year artists to the wider college community.

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The Camera/The World

Open, Small Lecture—Year | 10 credits

What are the political, social, and aesthetic implications of a world in which the image may have supplanted the truth? What are the consequences for communities that are less globally wired? Can humanism thrive in an image-saturated environment? Can racial and environmental justice be furthered in a plugged-in universe? In particular, what are the ramifications of iPhone-enabled “citizen journalism”? Who is telling the story of an image? Who is allowed to look at it? Who is disseminating it? Do images haunt our public memory? Do artists have a responsibility in image-making? The course structure is lecture/studio hybrid and will entail a combination of lecture, discussion, writing, and art making.

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Ideas of Photography

Open, Seminar—Year | 10 credits

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

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The New Narrative Photography

Open, Seminar—Year | 10 credits

A photograph presented alone and without a description in words is a simple utterance. “Ooh,” “Aah,” and “Huh?” are its proper responses. When pictures are presented in groups with accompanying text (of any length) and perhaps in conjunction with political or poetic conceptual strategies, any statement becomes possible. The photographs can begin to function as a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire treatise. Whether working in fiction, nonfiction, or in a fictive space, artists such as Robert Frank, Jim Goldberg, Roni Horn, Dorothea Lange, Susan Meiselas, Alan Sekula, Taryn Simon, Larry Sultan, and numerous others have been in the process of transforming photography with their work. Or perhaps they have created a medium: the new narrative photography. In this course, students will initially study the work of these “narrative” photographers and either write about their work or make pictures in response to it. The culmination of this experience will be students’ creation of their own bodies of work. If you have a story to tell, a statement to make, or a phenomenon that you wish to study and describe, this course is open to you. No previous photographic experience or special equipment is necessary. 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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Senior Interdisciplinary Studio

Advanced, Seminar—Year | 10 credits

This course is intended for seniors interested in pursuing their own art-making practice more deeply, for a prolonged period of time, and culminating in a solo exhibition during the spring semester. Students making work in and across painting, drawing, sculpture, video, photography, sound, new genres, performance, and more are supported. 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. Over the course of the year, students will focus exclusively on their own art-making practice and will be expected to develop a rigorous body of independent work to be presented in their spring semester exhibition, accompanied by a printed book that documents the exhibition. We will have regular critiques with visiting artists and faculty across our visual-arts program, along with readings, image discussions, and trips to galleries and artist’s studios. We will participate in the Visual Arts Lecture Series. Your art-making practice will be supplemented with other aspects of presenting your work—writing an artist statement, interviewing fellow artists, and documenting your art—along with a range of professional-practices workshops. This will be an immersive studio course meant for disciplined art students interested in making work in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Introduction to Painting

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring | 5 credits

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, art historical presentations, films and videos, reading materials, homework assignments, 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 toward 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, students will carry out research and preparatory work and develop 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 this class. The majority of our time will be spent in a studio/work mode. The studio is a lab where ideas are 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 part of you already but, rather, challenge you 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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Assemblage: The Found Palette

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring | 5 credits

Layered, built, found, saved, applied, collected, arranged, salvaged...Jean Dubuffet coined the term "assemblage” in 1953, referring to collages he made using butterfly wings. Including found material in a work of art not only brings the physical object but also its embedded narrative. In this course, we will explore the various ways in which the found object can affect a work of art and its history dating back to the early 20th century. We will look at historical and contemporary artists such as Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, Hannah Höch, Betye Saar, Richard Tuttle, Rachel Harrison, and Leonardo Drew. This course will tackle various approaches, challenging the notions of ”What is an art material?” and "How can the everyday inform the creative process.”

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Color and Light: Painting With Watercolor, Dyes, and Fluid Media

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring | 5 credits

This course uses water-based media in both traditional and nontraditional ways to create evocative paintings on paper, with pigments (both art and non-art) suspended in water. Watercolor and gouache are two of the oldest pigment-based media and continues to be used widely by artists, illustrators, designers, and architects. This class will specifically focus on color and the effects of layering, transparency, translucency, and absorbency. Students will be introduced to a range of brushes, sponges, paper types, paint media, and techniques. We will use landscape, portraiture, and other subject matter to represent water, light, flesh, atmosphere, and solid earth.  In a final section of this course, we will introduce sustainable painting practices by introducing organically created pigments. Artists surveyed include Charles Burchfield, Anselm Kiefer, Marcel Dumas, Winslow Homer, Egon Schiele, Vik Muniz, Dana Sherwood, Tattfoo Tan, Taylor Davis, Laylah Ali, and Marcel Dzama.

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Sculptural and Spatial Activism

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This is a theory and practice course, focusing on critical thinking for sculptural and spatial making through the lens of history, activism, and the “radical outside.” In this class, we will both learn about and learn to create multimedia and interdisciplinary sculptural work. We will consider object making as a position that exists within a larger context—beginning from where it is “installed” to what it “activates” and how it relates to cultural, social, and political issues around us. We will focus on topics such as refiguring, activism, digital colonialism, and world-building, with each student having the choice of the medium, materials, and topics they are interested in exploring. This class is and will be a growing collective effort for “reflective thinking” and asking difficult questions about sculptural work as a practice that, for too long, has been approached and taught from a one-dimensional, binary, and culturally/demographically isolated history. In addition to assignments that will allow practical creation for each student, we will read and discuss the words and works of thinkers, artists, designers, and collectives with a major focus on women, IBPOC, non-Western, and LGBTQ+ communities.

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Black-and-White Darkroom: An Immersion

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This class will focus on the technical and conceptual underpinnings of black-and-white photography. Students will learn how to use the 35mm film camera and how to print in the darkroom. We will cover a wide range of technical topics, including exposure, film development, printing on RC and fiber paper, toning, and split-filter printing. In-class lectures will introduce students to historical and contemporary practitioners, with a focus on voices and perspectives that have too often been sidelined in photo history curricula. Weekly shooting assignments will challenge students to engage with the complexities of the medium and think beyond traditional modes of presentation. Reading and writing assignments will supplement studio work. In addition to art criticism, we will read fiction and poetry by writers such as Mary Karr, Elena Ferrante, Rebecca Solnit, and Jorie Graham. Some of the guiding questions for our class will include: How can we use photography, the indexical medium, to investigate what we don’t understand? How can making images teach us about the people and places closest to us? And how can printing and installation choices support our artistic arguments? At the end of the semester, each student will present a body of work on a topic of their choice.

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Digital Imaging Studio

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits | Hybrid Remote/In-Person

This course focuses on contemporary techniques for digital image manipulation with an emphasis on Photoshop skills, including imaging, retouching, and compositing workflow. We will cover proper use of adjustment layers, layer masks, retouching, and even design and basic animation. The skills covered will build a solid basis for further exploration and interventions within the realm of photography, illustration, and more radical digital experiments. While proper technical processes are emphasized, we will equally explore expressive use of the software, creating original, personal work through independent projects. The broader class discussion will emphasize computer-generated and -manipulated imagery beyond the basics of Photoshop as a driving force in art and media that now informs all imagemaking and reflects and informs our culture in general. Students are encouraged to explore the potential of digital tools within this greater context and that of their individual work and interests—visual arts-related or otherwise—stressing open-ended visual possibilities, as well as technical and conceptual rigor.

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Architecture Design Studio: Heavy–Light

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This studio introduces students to architectural design with a focus on supply chains, material flows, embodied energy, and lifecycles of building materials. Alternative materials, whether heavy and earthen or lightweight and ephemeral, will serve as avenues for design research. Our design investigations will operate from a basis of energy and resource scarcity by doing as much as possible with as little as possible. Rather than an approach characterized by austerity, however, we will rethink the design of the built environment from the ground up by questioning basic assumptions that undergird the carbon economy. The studio will encourage students to operate with the resourcefulness, efficiencies, flexibilities, and informal systems seen in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America as precedents for design and construction. Could these methods from the Global South allow us to reimagine the territory and lifecycles of an architectural project? In addition, we will explore design opportunities presented to us by phased construction and strategies of disassembly and reusability. Creative work will be advanced through successive assignments and design briefs that increase in scale and complexity over the semester. Prior experience with hand drafting, digital drawing, and physical and digital modeling is beneficial but not a requirement.

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New Genres: Paranoia as a System

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

Through painting, photography, video editing, model making, surveillance demonstrations, art installation, mapmaking, diagramming, and the written word, artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries have tried to alert us to their suspicion that there is more to reality than what meets the eye. These artists are willing to follow a hunch into unreason, anxiety, and the webs of the subterranean. This course looks at the processes and workings of “conspiracy aesthetics” from a variety of disciplines. Students will create one small work of paranoia or conspiracy in the medium of their choice. Artists surveyed include Mike Kelley, Hans Haacke, Roman Polanski, Peter Tscherkassky, Jenny Holzer, Mark Lombardi, Henry Darger, Alfredo Jaar, Rachel Harrison, Jane and Louise Wilson, and others.

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Art From Code

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

A “live-coding,” practice-based introduction to visual-arts programming, including color, shape, transformations, and motion, this course is 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 Processing, a free and open-source software.

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Printmaking Intaglio

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This course is designed to introduce students to a range of intaglio techniques while also assisting students 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 keynote presentations.

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Performance Art Tactics

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

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

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Silkscreen Printing

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

In this 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. We will cover a range of basic techniques that lend themselves well to a home setup, including hand-cut stencils, printing multiple layers, and drawing directly on the screen with drawing fluid. We will also look into ways in which silkscreen can be combined with other media, opening up its aesthetic possibilities. Students will be encouraged to independently explore subject matter, ideas, and aesthetic modes of their own choosing, as we develop a cumulative understanding of technical knowledge. The goal of the course will be to master the basic process of silkscreen in service of developing a sophisticated language using this versatile medium.

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Drawing as Visual Language

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

Drawing is a visual language. A drawing can be a response. And a drawing can be a form of reaction. The process of drawing may function both as research and as an autonomous medium. In addition to being an introductory drawing course, the content aims to develop concepts through drawing while honing the individual’s interest and study into a state of visual expression. We will begin using various materials and learn how they have aided artists and designers, both historically and contemporary. We will copy different methods of drawing and analyze their function within a process. Videos, readings, and looking at works of art will aid in understanding the process, medium, and how the skill may be a part of one’s overall education. Individual and group conversations will be used to help develop and provide a deeper understanding of the subject. As the course develops, personal research projects will progress along with one large, collaborative group drawing. Our time together will be concentrated in the studio, where ideas are generated from analyzing one’s process and thinking within a medium. The student’s curiosity about topics related to the present and its historical relevance will be, through drawing, a part of the dialogue. 

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1,001 Drawings

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

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

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Drawing Fundamentals

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This introductory drawing course exposes students to methods of drawing through rigorous observational practices. Fundamental drawing concepts involving light, shade, value, contrast, proportion, texture, mass, and volume are presented, and techniques are demonstrated to best achieve those ideas. The goals of the course are to develop hand-eye coordination, to understand methods and materials, and to explore the process of developing a visual vocabulary. Through the activity of drawing, students develop the language of drawing—which is truly about seeing through an expanded lens. Students will work daily with traditional and experimental drawing materials. Drawings by contemporary artists will be shown throughout the term, and a coinciding New York City trip to specific galleries/museums will be taken. At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to translate an object from life into a two-dimensional drawn form with both traditional and experimental points of view.

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Intermediate Painting: A Sense of Place

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

To look at a place closely—to spend time with it while painting it—is, in a sense, to own it. In this course, students explore their own sense of place in different locations. Students will travel to various destinations to collect source materials—such as drawings, photographs, written notes, and painted sketches—and will work on larger and more complex paintings in the studio. Through quick studies and finished paintings, students will observe and create an intimate relationship with their chosen motifs. Throughout the semester, students will work both large and small, both quickly and slowly. Some paintings will take a few minutes, and some will take several days. The course emphasizes fundamentals of painting, as well as the formal, cultural, and political connotations that a landscape genre may contain. The course is supplemented with keynote presentations, class critiques, and studio visits.

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The Matter in Material

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

“...[O]ur bodies are large collections of oscillating entities existing in an environment made largely of diverse populations of other oscillating identities,” posits the philosopher Manuel DeLanda in column #10, Matter Singing in Unison, of his “Matter Matters” series in Domus Magazine (2005). Within the scope of those oscillations, our physical surroundings and the material of our daily existence hold inherent resonance and association within and upon our memories and bodies. As artists, how can we learn to tap those often invisible vibrations that course through stuff? How can the materials that we use in our work be encouraged to speak their own realities and histories? And how do we deepen our understanding of material in order to amplify this effect or, even better, understand what is already there? This semester-long course will explore diverse strategies to mine this “invisible” information. Broad (and messy) experimentation, collaboration, readings, and creative research in the first part of the course will lead to the creation of a series of two- and three-dimensional works that use the inherent assets of material (both physical and psychological) to create new forms and meanings. Reassembling, repurposing, recombining, relocating, and deconstructing will be examined as process filters through which we can push materials to communicate their histories and properties. Regular group discussions and critiques will allow us to learn from our own experiments and those of others. Prior experience in visual art courses is helpful, though not required. Please bring examples of relevant work to the interview, and expectations of what you hope to gain from the course.

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3D Modeling

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits | Hybrid Remote/In-Person

This course introduces students to the process of constructing digital objects and environments within 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 intensive hands-on studio time, as well as through readings and discussion, students will also be encouraged to consider the conceptual ramifications of working in illusionistic digital 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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Architecture Design Studio: Enclosure and Environment

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

This studio introduces students to architectural design, with architecture’s capacity as enclosure to produce alternate climates, biomes, and ecologies forming the major conceptual framework for studio projects. The studio will explore, through research and design speculation, the history and possible futures of the architecture of the nonhuman world. Research into histories of botany, colonialism, and resource extraction will serve as the basis for ambitious forms of design speculation for an ecologically and climatically uncertain present and future. Landscape and environmental factors will be treated as architectural fundamentals integral to the design process rather than as supplemental components or afterthoughts. Consequently, projects will be highly attuned to natural history, climate, and site specificity. Creative work will be advanced through successive assignments and design briefs that increase in scale and complexity over the semester. Prior experience with hand drafting, digital drawing, and physical and digital modeling is beneficial but not a requirement.

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New Genres: Drawing Machines

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

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 softwares, 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. This class includes readings on the histories of machine art and programming cultures.

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Relief Printmaking

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

This course is designed to introduce students to a range of relief printing techniques while also assisting students in developing their own visual imagery through the language of printmaking. Students will work with linoleum and woodblock materials. Students will develop drawing skills through the printmaking medium and experiment with value structure, composition, mark-making, 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 printing equipment, printing an edition, critically discussing one’s work, and developing a process of visual storytelling. The course will be supplemented by technical demonstrations, critiques, field trips, and keynote presentations.

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Narrative, Printmaking, and Artist Books

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

In this course, we will explore different ways that narrative can be achieved through conventional and experimental applications of image-making, 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 and image-making processes will be covered, along with a selection of bookbinding techniques. Students will be asked to produce both one-of-a-kind artist books and easily reproducible books for potential distribution.

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Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

Since the early 20th century, artists have explored performance art as a radical means of expression. In both form and function, performance art pushes the boundaries of contemporary art. Through this form of expression, artists have produced powerful works about the body and the politics of gender, sexuality, and race. This course surveys performance art as a porous, transdisciplinary medium open to students from all disciplines, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, filmmaking, theatre, dance, music, creative writing, and digital art. Students will learn about the history of performance art and explore some of the concepts and aesthetic strategies used to create works of performance. Drawing on historical and critical texts, artists’ writings, video screenings, and slide lectures, students will use a series of simple prompts to help shape their own performances. Artists and art movements surveyed in this class include Dada, Happenings, Fluxus, Viennese Actionism, Gutai Group, Act-Up, Joseph Beuys, Judson Church, Ana Mendieta, Gina Pane, Helio Oiticica, Jack Smith, Leigh Bowery, Rachel Rosenthal, Jo Spence, Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Terry Adkins and the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, Carolee Schneemann, Martha Wilson, Adrian Piper, Martha Rosler, Lorraine O’Grady, Joan Jonas, Karen Finley, Janine Antoni, Patty Chang, Papo Colo, Paul McCarthy, Matthew Barney, Ron Athey, Orlan, Guillermo Gomez Pena, Narcissister, Annie Sprinkle, Vaginal Davis, Kris Grey, Carlos Martiel, Autumn Knight, Amanda Alfieri, Hennessey Youngman, Savannah Knoop, Shaun Leonardo, Francis Alys, Andrea Fraser, Tania Bruguera, Zhang Huan, Regina Jose Galindo, Aki Sasamoto, Pope.L, and many more.

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Drawing in Two-and-a-Half Dimensions

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

The first part of this course focuses on sharpening fundamental drawing skills through essential exercises and with a variety of traditional drawing media. After each drawing’s initial state is made, assignments will be reworked with a new set of criteria—such as using one’s nondominant hand, inventing one’s drawing instruments and materials, cutting up old drawings and reconfiguring them into new works, or working continually for a set number of hours on one piece. Around the midpoint in the term, our understanding of drawing expands to include works by Christine Sun Kim, Kara Walker, Charles Gaines, and William Kentridge. How does drawing unfold and become stop-motion animations, cut-out life-size silhouettes, or massive reproductions on buildings? Drawing evolves from a flat practice into three dimensions. We will investigate this circumstance and incorporate many of those modalities into our works on paper. Individual meetings with the instructor guide each student’s direction for the second half of the term. Each student’s unique area of challenge and engagement will be assessed and explored for the final project. A study trip to New York City galleries will coincide with course work.

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Site/Situation

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

Like the body, a sculpture is always somewhere. Movable or fixed, permanent or ephemeral, sculptural work is indivisible from the space in which it is experienced—a space that we, too, inhabit. Over the semester, students in this course will engage in progressively complex interactions with object, space, and site. Our first site will be a sheet of paper for “conversational” works with a partner. The course will end with students engaging in independently conceived interactions with a specific site (thinking of “site,” broadly, as the place where the work “resides”). Throughout, we will look at diverse examples of “installation” from throughout art history and a range of texts that take on the relationship of artist and site. And we will make at least one trip to museums and galleries in New York City. We will also discuss the process and possibilities of documentation (through photography, video, writing, and even speaking) as a part of the life and experience of the work.

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Art for Good

Open, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

Some 60 or 70 years ago, the idea of art as a comfort to middle- and upper-class tastes and values, more or less a visual soporific to be occasionally consumed as needed, began to come under assault. The methodologies of the Fluxus Movement, the happenings of the ’60s, and various conceptual practices of the ’70s provided a ground from which artists such as Hans Haacke or Neo Rauch could make work that was critical of prevailing economic or political realities. In 1971, when a pointed artwork by Haacke caused the Guggenheim Museum to cancel his retrospective, the then-director of the museum wrote to him to say that the institution’s policies “exclude active engagement toward social or political ends.” Unfortunately for the museum, a constantly expanding and ever-more vital ocean of such work has ensued. Using Nato Thompson’s Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century as our text, we will examine the work of artists whose work has intentionally called for a different social or political order. Exemplars to be studied will include Francis Alys, David Hammons, Alfredo Jaar, Barbara Kruger, Suzanne Lacy, Ana Mendieta, Adrian Piper, Pussy Riot, Martha Rosler, Doris Salcedo, Carolee Schneemann, Felix Gonzalez Torres, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Ai Weiwei, and Fred Wilson, to name but a very few. In the beginning of the semester students will respond to readings, class discussions and prompts with artworks that relate to the issues at hand.  As the semester progresses students will also work on a conference project that is born of their own independent concerns.

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New Genres: Cultural HiJack

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

Is art talking about all the wrong things? In all the wrong ways? Are artists, gallerists, and curators missing the point? Do you see “an elephant in the room”? Would you like to turn things around? How would you do that? How have people done it before? This semester, Cultural HiJack looks at the ways in which the art world itself gets “hijacked”—by outsiders, insiders, upstarts, free thinkers, liberationists, subversives, anti-artists, and anyone else who intends to “open a window.” We will begin with a few small exercises, fast projects that get us thinking about ways in which the contemporary art world is “saying it wrong.” From there, students will move on to one longer, more substantial artwork—a new piece that proposes some fresh way of thinking, seeing, or acknowledging an idea. Along the way, we will consider the many strategies that artists themselves have used to “change the conversation,” including the attention grab of the New York School, the curatorial insight of Okwui Enzenor, the consumerist strategies of pop and street art, the paradigm break of the blockchain and crypto, and more. Artists studied include Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Banksy, Philip Guston, Dave Hammons, Coco Fusco, Jeremy Deller, and more. Students from all art disciplines are welcome. Interdisciplinary projects are encouraged.

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Intermediate Painting: Narrative Painting

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Spring | 5 credits

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 PowerPoint presentations, film screenings, selected readings, field trips, and group critiques.

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From Collage to Painting

Open, Concept—Fall | 2 credits

Collage is a way to communicate complex emotions, layered ideas, nonlinear stories. In this class, we will explore the process of collage as a method for creating dynamic compositions. We will be learning different techniques of collage, using found materials, photographs, and craft supplies. Collage in this class will be utilized as a preparation toward making a series of paintings but will also become a part of paintings. At the core of this class is openness to material experimentation, interest in learning how to communicate through paint as well as nontraditional painting materials, and learning about other artists who have used collage and assemblage in their work. The class follows a series of prompts or visual problems that are posed by the instructor. By the end of class, a series of works will be produced. Each student will investigate topics of interest to them through methods of collage and painting. Some of the visual materials that we will reference are stained-glass windows, quilts, tiles, mail art, and book art, as well as artists who have used/use collage in their paintings/drawings/sculpture today.

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Photogrammetry

Open, Concept—Spring | 2 credits

Photogrammetry is the process by which, using specialized software, multiple photographic views of an object or space are analyzed and reconstructed into digital 3D models. These uncanny virtual recreations from the real world can then be used as digital props and environments in rendering, games, and animation projects. In this course, we will work with this exciting process, generating our own models and importing them into 3D software to edit, texture, and combine them into larger virtual scenes or export them as assets for games, visual effects, or other more experimental uses. We will work in both controlled studio environments as well as “en plein air,” with the ability to capture manmade as well as natural objects and spaces, subsequently generating their virtual doppelgangers in the computer and transforming their meaning as digital art objects.

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Experiments in Architectural Drawing and Representation

Open, Concept—Spring | 2 credits

This concept course introduces students to architectural drawing, with a particular focus on experimental and hybrid forms of spatio-temporal representation on both paper and digital mediums. Fundamentals of orthographic and perspectival projection and drawing conventions, as well as the role of notational systems and diagramming, will be combined with the creative use of imaging, time-based media, physical prototyping, and other digital tools. We will also pay close attention to spatially representing invisible and ephemeral phenomena, such as air flow, ventilation, and environmental factors. This course is open to all skill levels; and while prior experience with digital tools is helpful, it is not required.

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New Genres: Abstract Video

Open, Concept—Spring | 2 credits

Although amateurs often confuse the two terms, abstract video is a new art form that is very different from the experimental film movement of the 1970s and ’80s. Often drawing from the digital worlds of games, signal processing, 3D modeling, and computational media, abstract video has become an important new aspect of art installation, site-specific sculpture, and gallery presentations. This small-project concept class is an introduction to the use of video as a material for visual artists. Using open-source software and digital techniques, students will create one small work of video abstraction intended for gallery installation, ambient surrounds, and new media screens. Artists studied include Ryoji Ikeda, Ian Cheng, Bill Viola, Nam June Paik, Jacolby Satterwhite, Jane and Louise Wilson, and more.

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Figure Drawing

Open, Concept—Spring | 2 credits

This course is an introduction to figure drawing of live male and female models using a variety of drawing materials, techniques, and artistic approaches. The purpose of the course is to help students obtain the basic skill of drawing the human form, including anatomy, observation of the human form, and fundamental exercises in gesture, contour, outline, and tonal modeling. In the shorter drawings, students will explore the fundamentals of drawing such as measurement, mark-making, value structure, and composition. Observational drawing 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 drawing process. The work will fluctuate between specific in-class and homework assignments. In-class drawing assignments will be supplemented with keynote presentations, video screenings, selected readings, and group critiques.

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Painterly Print

Open, Concept—Fall | 2 credits

This course is an opening foray into the possibilities of painterly printmaking and experimental processes that merge printmaking with painting and drawing. The course will also cover fundamentals such as basic drawing and color mixing. As a means to explore an individual idea, students will investigate a wide range of possibilities offered by monoprint techniques and will experiment with inks and paints, stencils, multiple plates, and images altered in sequence. Students will begin to develop a method to investigate meaning, or content, through the techniques of painterly printmaking. There will be an examination of various strategies that fluctuate between specific in-class assignments and individual studio work. In-class assignments will be supplemented with PowerPoint presentations, reading materials, film clips and video screenings, group critiques, homework projects, and visits to artist studios.

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On Color

Open, Concept—Fall | 2 credits

In this course, we will explore the curious ways in which colors interact with one another. We will perform a multitude of color experiments in order to witness for ourselves the wide range of phenomena that arise from the relative nature of color. We will use Josef Albers’s seminal text as a guide, as we explore concepts such as color intensity, brightness and value, illusions of transparency, additive and subtractive mixtures, and the Bezold effect, among others. In addition, we will discuss psychology and color perception, learning about color constancy and optical illusions, as well as take a simplified version of the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test to see how sensitive we are to discrepancies in hue. Lastly, we will extend our examination of color to various cultural contexts and works of art.

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Art and the Climate Crisis

Open, Concept—Spring | 2 credits

Artists throughout time have used nature as both inspiration and medium. This course will explore art about our human relationship to the environment through to the natural trajectory of art that engages with our current climate crisis. What role are artists and art institutions taking in helping raise public consciousness about issues like climate change? As cultural producers, what is the responsibility of artists to sustainability or to the environment? We will discuss the ramifications of these questions by examining some of the history of artists working in and with the environment and nature, through taking field trips to relevant art works and installations, through dialogue with practitioners in the field, and through some hands-on creative exercises in making art within these themes. Concurrently, individual research in a topic of interest will lead students to a final project where they will make/propose/analyze/curate an environmental art project of their own. No previous experience in studio arts classes is required but could be helpful.

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First-Year Studies: Masterworks of Art and Architecture of the Western Tradition

Open, FYS—Year

The visual arts and architecture constitute a central part of human expression and experience, and both grow from and influence our lives in profound ways that we might not consciously acknowledge. In this course, we will explore intersections between the visual arts and cultural, political, and social history. 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. This course 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 formal analysis, readings, discussion, research, and debate. We will endeavor to understand each work from the point of view of its creators and patrons and by following the work's changing reception by audiences throughout time. To accomplish this, we will need to be able to understand some of the languages of art. The course, then, is also a course in visual literacy—the craft of reading and interpreting visual images on their own terms. We will also discuss a number of issues of contemporary concern; for instance, the destruction of art, free speech and respect of religion, the art market, and the museum. If health considerations and COVID restrictions allow, students will be asked to schedule time on weekends to travel to Manhattan, either on their own or in the College van, to do assignments at various museums in New York. You will need several hours for each of these visits and will keep a notebook of comments and drawings of works of art. During the fall semester, students will meet with the instructor weekly for individual conferences; in the spring, we will meet every other week.

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Sursum Corda: Art and Architecture from Michelangelo to the Dawn of the Enlightenment, 1550-1700

Open, Lecture—Year

In Annibale Carracci’s painting of St. Margaret (1609), an Early Christian martyr, an altar is inscribed: Sursum Corda (Lift Up Your Hearts). This course explores what that meant in the 17th century—for the arts to be a vehicle of uplift and salvation, a challenge to the supremacy of nature, an analysis of history, and a site of contention, paradox, and pride for artists and architects. Using PowerPoint presentations, class discussion, and papers focusing on works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the course will cover the art of 16th-century Italy—as that art frames the questions that painters, sculptors, and architects pursued throughout Europe in the 17th century, commonly called the Age of the Baroque. Included will be studies of major movements in religion, politics, and society (Catholic reform and the founding of the Jesuits Order, the evolution of academic art, the creation of papal Rome, the importance of private patronage); issues in aesthetics and art theory (the transformation of classical models, theories of the reception of nature, the links to poetry, and the dynamics of style); the emergence of the varying national traditions (the sweet style and Bel Composto in Italy, Calvinist naturalism and the power of light in The Netherlands, and high classicism and Bon Gout in France). Focus will also be on careers of artists like Titian and the erotics of the brush; Michelangelo and transcendent form; Caravaggio and naturalism as the death of painting; Artemisia Gentileschi, biography and exemplum; Bernini and the beautiful whole; Rubens and the multiple ways of transforming; Rembrandt and the rough style; Vermeer and the discipline and technique of light; and Poussin and the modes of expression, among others. Group conferences in the first semester will focus on the art of Michelangelo as practice and problem and theories of the Baroque; in second semester, theories and problems in 17th-century architecture.

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Global Modernism, Internationalism, and the Cold War: 1930s, 1960s, 1990s

Open, Lecture—Year

This course is an introduction to diverse trajectories of modern and contemporary art from contexts that include Russia, Mexico, Iran, China, Japan, Argentina, India, Nigeria, Brazil, Ethiopia, Iraq, Egypt, and Pakistan, as well as Europe and North America. The course ties these trajectories together via the theme of “internationalism” and its shifting geopolitical stakes over the course of the 20th century. The course follows the creation of modern internationalism in institutions like the League of Nations, the United Nations, UNESCO, and the Non-Aligned Movement; to a shift from diplomatic internationalism to economic “developmentalism” and “globalization” led by institutions like the World Bank and the IMF; and related cultural internationalisms promoted by MoMA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Venice and São Paulo Biennales, and even the Stalinist state and Chinese Communist Party. Lectures will examine topics like Mexican muralism and Rockefeller internationalism; Négritude and its influence on African postcolonial modernisms; the infamous “weaponization” of abstract expressionism during the Cold War; debates on socialist realism in the Second and Third Worlds; the arrival of postcolonial diasporas to London and Paris and, relatedly, developments in “calligraphic modernism” spanning from North Africa to East Asia; and finally the proliferation of post-medium and new media strategies around the world toward the end of the century. Taking a chronological journey through global modern and contemporary art, the course focuses on three key decades to examine how artists navigated the shifting pressures and opportunities of internationalism throughout the 20th century. We will ask: How did modern artists think about national identity and nationalism in the colonial and postcolonial periods? What were the stakes of abstraction versus realism in different Cold War contexts? Can modernism exist in a totalitarian state? How have “First World” ideologies informed how modernist history has been written in the past? How are global modernists expanding the canon today? And on whose terms? While the course will include canonical readings on modern and contemporary art from the West, we will also read work by thinkers including Hannah Arendt and Rabindranath Tagore on nationalism; Mark Mazower and Vijay Prashad on the shifting politics of internationalism; Geeta Kapur and Ferreira Gullar on postcolonial avant-gardes; and primary documents, including UNESCO conference proceedings and artist manifestoes. The course lays a particular focus on recent work on global modernism by scholars that include Chika Okeke-Agulu, Iftikhar Dadi, Kellie Jones, Joan Kee, Ana María Reyes, and Reiko Tomii. These readings will illustrate current debates and shifts in the field, opening onto questions of art historical method and ways of looking, especially as they pertain to contested and formerly marginalized domains of art history. Writing assignments will focus on New York-area collections; the course will include a guided field trip to MoMA.

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Romanesque and Gothic Art: Castle and Cathedral at the Birth of Europe

Open, Large Lecture—Fall

This course explores the powerful architecture, sculpture, and painting styles that lie at the heart of the creation of Europe and the idea of the West. We will use a number of strategies to explore how expressive narrative painting and sculpture and new monumental architectural styles were engaged in the formation of a common European identity; we will uncover, as well, the artistic vestiges of diverse groups and cultures that challenge that uniform vision. These are arts that chronicle deep social struggles between classes, intense devotion through pilgrimage, the rise of cities and universities, and movements that could both advocate genocide and nurture enormous creativity—in styles both flamboyant and austere—growing from places as diverse as castles and rural monasteries to Gothic cathedrals. The course will explore those aspects of expressive visual language that link works of art to social history, the history of ideas, and political ideology.

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Home/Nation: 20th-Century Asian Art–via New York

Open, Seminar—Fall

This seminar is an introduction to modern and contemporary art from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea. The course takes its title from Indian artist Rummana Hussain’s “Home/Nation” (1996), a multimedia installation reflecting on rising political violence in India at the end of the century—especially against minority groups. In 1998, Hussain completed a residency at Art in General in New York and was one of numerous artists from across Asia showing in the City during the “global” and “multicultural” 1990s. This seminar elaborates on this global turn by tracing prior histories of Asian art in the City; however, our discussion and reading will also spend equal time in Asian and New York-based histories of modern and contemporary art, looking across continents to consider parallels, inversions, connections, and disconnections between and among them. We will, therefore, examine artists like Hussain, who might have visited New York only briefly, along with those who have lived in the City for all or most of their lives. Artists examined will include Toshi Shumizu, Rabindranath Tagore, Chao Chung-hsiang, F. N. Souza, Isamu Noguchi, Zainul Abedin, Yoko Ono, Tehching Hsieh, Zarina Hashmi, and Shahzia Sikander. We will consider how artists grappled with splits between “home” and “nation,” both in Asia and in the United States, during the 20th century, taking into account major events in Asian history that include decolonization, the Cold War, and neoliberal globalization. We will also explore the impact of World War I and World War II on Asian minorities in the United States, the civil rights movement and related passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, the Vietnam War, and, more recently, the aftermaths of 9/11 and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Artistically, we will examine diverse trajectories of realism and abstraction, photography and performance, and new media and avant-garde strategies. Students will have the opportunity to visit New York-based museums, galleries, and archival collections, including the Asia Art Archive, as part of in-class and individual assignments. Seminar discussion and final papers will focus on primary documents: institutional correspondences and historical newspaper and magazine reviews, artist writings and interviews, and archival photographs, among other documentary forms. These records will be used to build on existing histories of Asian art in/via New York and, if possible, to rediscover new or forgotten ones.

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First-Year Studies in Dance

Open, FYS—Year

Students will enroll in a selection of movement practice classes, as well as improvisation and an academic study of dance, that together will make up First-Year Studies in Dance. (Please refer to the course catalogue for the component class descriptions.) Students will be dancing in the studio every day. Throughout the fall semester, we’ll also meet weekly in the First-Year Studies in Dance Project to dig deeper into the work that we are doing in our dance classes. Some questions that we’ll examine include: What roles has dance played in various cultures and societies, both now and in the past? How has dance interacted with other art forms and other fields of study? What are the elements of dance? What can dance do, and what can we do with dance? We’ll examine these and other questions through reading and discussion, as well as through experiments in dancing and by making short dances. Students will also meet in individual conferences each week throughout the fall semester and in biweekly conferences in the spring semester to develop their own project based on their own particular interests and the material explored in class.

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Yoga

Component—Year

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

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Guest Artist Lab

Component—Year

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

Live Time-Based Art

Component—Year

In this class, graduates and upper-class undergraduates with a special interest and experience in the creation of time-based artworks that include live performance will design and direct individual projects. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and discuss relevant artistic and practical problems, both in class on Tuesday evenings and in conferences taking place on Thursday afternoons. Attributes of the work across multiple disciplines of artistic endeavor will be discussed as integral and interdependent elements in the work. Participation in mentored, critical-response feedback sessions with your peers is a key aspect of the course. The engagement with the medium of time in live performance, the constraints of presentation of the works both in works-in-progress and in a shared program of events, and the need to respect the classroom and presentation space of the dance studio will be the constraints imposed on the students’ artistic proposals. Students working within any number of live performance traditions are as welcome in this course as those seeking to transgress orthodox conventions. While all of the works will engage in some way with embodied action, student proposals need not fall neatly into a traditional notion of what constitutes dance. The cultivation of open discourse across traditional disciplinary artistic boundaries, both in the process of developing the works and in the context of presentation to the public, is a central goal of the course. The faculty members leading this course have roots in dance practice but also have practiced expansive definitions of dance within their own creative work. This course will culminate in performances of the works toward the end of the semester in a shared program with all enrolled students and within the context of winter and spring time-based art events. Performances of the works will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

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Anatomy

Component—Year

How is it possible for us to move in the countless ways that we do? Learn to develop your X-ray vision of human beings in motion through functional anatomical study that combines movement practice, drawing, lecture, and problem-solving. In this course, movement is a powerful vehicle for experiencing, in detail, our profoundly adaptable musculoskeletal anatomy. We will learn Irene Dowd’s Spirals—a comprehensive warm-up/cool-down for dancing that coordinates all joints and muscles through their fullest range of motion, facilitating study of the entire musculoskeletal system. In addition to movement practice, drawings are made as part of each week’s lecture (drawing materials provided), and three short assignments will be submitted each semester. Insights and skills developed in this course can provide tremendous inspiration in the process of movement invention and composition.

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Anatomy Research Seminar

Component—Year

This is an opportunity for students who have completed a full year of anatomy study in the SLC dance program to pursue functional anatomy studies in greater depth. In open consultation with the instructor during class meetings, each student engages in independent research, developing one or more lines of inquiry that utilize functional anatomy perspectives and texts as an organizing framework. Research topics in recent years have included investigation of motor and experiential learning, development of a unique warm-up sequence to address specific individual technical issues, inquiry into kinetic experience and its linguistic expression, detailed study of knee-joint anatomy, and study of the kinematics and rehabilitation in knee injury. The class meets biweekly to discuss progress, questions, and methods for reporting, writing, and presenting research, alternating with weekly studio/practice sessions for individual and/or group research consultations.

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Lighting in Life and Art

Component—Year

Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation that allows us to see. Light’s qualities and its interaction with space have profound effects on the affect of an experience. We all know that the feel of a midsummer afternoon is not the same as that of a cloudy, gray afternoon or a subway car or a sunset or a night with a full moon. What qualities of light generate these disparate feelings? The art and practice of crafting light is the subject of this component. We will examine the theoretical and practical aspects of light in multiple settings. This will begin with a practice of noticing what we might typically ignore. From there, we will approach learning how to craft the conditions of light primarily, though not exclusively, within a theatrical environment. Understanding the historical conventions of theatre—in particular, those of theatrical dance in the United States—will provide a point of departure to begin to think beyond those historical conventions. Emphasis will be on learning basic lighting skills, including those of stagecraft. Students will collaborate with, and create original lighting designs for, the Time-Based Art works when such needs are appropriate to the artistic proposal.

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The Environmental Imagination: Perspectives From the Social Sciences, Environmental Humanities, and the Arts

Open, Seminar—Fall

“Climate change” covers a variety of hydrological, thermal, geological, and atmospheric crises that are intersecting and accelerating in scope and intensity. Inspired by Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwOvBv8RLmo) performing her poem Earthrise, this course invites a conversation that draws together the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts: a journey through the global climate crisis on a variety of scales, in specific contexts, and through diverse media. Fiction and nonfiction writing, history, and film will be drawn upon to investigate understandings of an epoch controversially called “the Anthropocene.”  What do these different perspectives, methods, and insights bring to our perceptions of specific environments? How do different rhetorical formations, imaginaries, narratives, and visual images inform cognitive and affective responses to the Anthropocene?  What do they bring to our understanding of the global environmental emergency that is the signature of this moment in planetary history? How do interventions in the arts and humanities constitute acts of “world-making”—new ways of seeing, feeling, and imagining human ways of caring for this planet? In conjunction with the literatures of political ecology and cultural anthropology, we will read fiction by authors such as Amitav Ghosh and Stanislas Lem; nonfiction by Robert MacFarlane (Underlands), Ben Ehrenreich (Desert Notebooks), Joseph Masco (irradiated landscapes in the American West), Kate Brown (Plutopia), and Madeleine Watts (The Inland Sea).

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First-Year Studies: Media Sketchbooks

Open, FYS—Year

In this course, students will develop work that aims to challenge audience perceptions of traditional filmmaking while retaining “audience reading” of a film’s message, intention, and meaning. This is a production and research class, where the development of experimental fiction and nonfiction film is covered from the conception of an idea to the finished product. Students will have the opportunity to experiment with nonconventional techniques for image creation, either individually or in collaboration with their peers. We will explore technical, conceptual, and aesthetic approaches to constructing art films with directed shots, cinéma vérité, animation, performance art, and free-media montage. Emphasis will be placed on producing innovative and creative films in the experimental genre. This is a solid introductory course for students who are interested in film and want to get their “feet wet” in film during their first year at the College. Students will participate in technical production modules and exercises in which an exploration of modes of experimental film and video will be covered. Focus will be on an exploration of structure and format, as well as film’s relationship to story, poetry, and experimental text. We will review the work of professional artists’ films and read theoretical texts as they apply to artist film production. The class will also function as an editing workshop with critique and feedback. Visiting experimental filmmaker labs will be an important part of this year’s class.

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Worldbuilding

Open, Large Lecture—Fall

A world is an artificial living thing, but a living thing nonetheless. —Ian Cheng (2018)

The concept of “worldbuilding” has been around for hundreds of years in the development of science fiction and is often used to describe art direction for commercial video game and film studios. Recently, this term has begun to be used by individual artists to describe a method for developing personal work presented online, in cinemas, and as museum installations. In this class, we will look at the history of this concept as it pertains to narrative art. While the focus of the course is on noncommercial moving-image work, we will also explore the history of worldbuilding in philosophy (Martin Heideggar), literature (Octavia Butler), and comics (Moebius). Additionally, we will discuss the role of “internal coherence,” style, and narrative structure as they pertain to dozens of artworks, including work by Ian Cheng, Jacolby Satterwhite, Mati Diop, and Porpentine.

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Fundamentals of 2D Character Animation

Open, Seminar—Year

This course focuses on the fundamentals of animation through the development of 2D character design. The course will introduce students to traditional hand-drawn and digital techniques of frame-by-frame animation, where movement is created through successive, sequential character drawings. Students will learn the principles of animation through character design and visual development and 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 animation, students will draw and animate human, animal, mechanical, and hybrid figures. Students will learn about body mechanics and motion flow in the development of animated characters through techniques that include walk cycles, rotating forms, transformations, holds, squash and stretch, weight, and resistance. Additional instruction will include techniques in pencil-test animation and lip syncing. Students will research characters in their visual, environmental, psychological, and social aspects to establish a full understanding of characterization. Examples of animations illustrating frame-by-frame character movement will be screened regularly. The course will conclude with a final project, for which students will develop, conceptualize, and produce a fully animated character study. Information and skills established in this class can be used to improve basic drawing and animation proficiency, to establish fundamentals for digital animation production, to create and enhance an animation portfolio, and to develop tangible skills for producing graphic novels or a character outline for an interactive media project. Software used in this course: Storyboard Pro, Harmony, Photoshop, Procreate, and Final Cut Pro X.

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Advanced Collective in Animation or Experimental Media

Intermediate/Advanced, Small seminar—Fall

This collective for advanced animation and experimental media is for students seeking to work on independent-study projects or to acquire credit for fieldwork in those disciplines. The group will first meet weekly to establish guidelines and schedules for projects; then, the class will serve as a gathering place to report on project development and/or the progress of an internship. Weekly meetings provide a framework for research, development, and collaborative assistance toward an advanced project that may take the shape of a short film or professional experience in an internship. Led by a team of filmmaking and moving-image arts faculty, students will be interviewed during registration to evaluate their proposed projects or research. The week-to-week structure of the collective will be tailored to meet the needs of individual projects/groups as the semester progresses. The collective is open to experienced animation and experimental media students; both individuals and group projects are invited to apply to the class. Interested students should come to the interview prepared to present a project proposal or an internship already secured.

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Concept Art: Visual Development

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 scene paintings, model sheets, and animatics, students will draw and conceptualize spaces, characters, and props that are visually harmonious and consistent in 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 during the semester. Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, Procreate, and Final Cut Pro software will be utilized for character design, background paintings, and concept presentation animatics. The final project for this course will include a fully developed, multicharacter/environment animatic. Knowledge from this course can be used to create and enhance an animation portfolio, establish a concept outline for an interactive media project, and help in developing a cast of characters and environments for a graphic novel or an animated film. Software used throughout the course: Photoshop, Storyboard Pro, Harmony, Procreate, and Final Cut Pro X or Premier.

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

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Music and Sound for Film

Open, Seminar—Spring

This class will explore how music and sound serve the dramatic intent of a film. As co-inhabitants of the aural spectrum, a film’s score and sound design are increasingly called upon to interact and work together. Working in one of those areas usually implies a working understanding of the other. The class will cover: working with a director on spotting both music and sound, choosing musical themes that correspond to the dramatic needs of a film, using sound design to highlight environmental and psychological facets of the world and its characters, conceptualizing the sonic space of a film, and designing the music and sound so they occupy different frequency areas and remain distinct. The marriage of sound and music has deep roots in the history of cinema, and special attention will be paid to the masters of sound in film such as Walter Murch/Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa (note: list is subject to change). Technical topics to be covered: intro to ProTools and an overview of basic mixing, concepts in music editing, use of effects such as compression, eq, reverb and filters, file organization, and management and workflow. While this course will be a historical overview of important work and concepts, time will also be given to developing student work with the hope that students gain experience through collaboration—both during class and independently.

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Theories at Heart

Open, Seminar—Fall

This course takes political aesthetics, from the Zapatistas to Amazonian autonomy projects, as a point of departure to ground historical understandings of interculturality from an indigenous perspective. The course seeks to develop students’ critical skills as they acquire tools to talk about transcontinental political aesthetics. While engaging this aesthetics of resistance, students will be exposed to a series of critical theories that convey the depths of cultural memory—which is necessarily tied to a local indigenous history remembered in the community by heart. Students will read historical and literary texts from the 16th century onward, as well as secondary readings from recognized scholars interested on indigenous historiography. Thus, students can compare various indigenous perspectives—from the Amazon to the Andes and Chiapas and the people of Turtle Island—contextualized in each nation’s colonial long-durée.

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Literature in Translation: 20th-Century Italian Literature and Culture

Open, Seminar—Fall

The course will explore 20th-century Italian literature, focusing on important intellectuals, works, and movements that helped shape it and their connection with the arts, cinema, and society at large. Italy had become a unified nation by 1860, and its literature addressed issues such as (national and personal) identity, tradition, innovation and modernity, the role of literature and of the writer, and the changing role of women in Italian society. We will explore the interrelation between Italian literature and crucial historical events—such as the Great War, the rise and fall of fascism, World War II, the Resistance, the birth of the Republic, the postwar economic boom, the students’ and women’s movements of the 1960s and ’70s, the terrorism of the “Anni di Piombo”—until the recent contribution of migration literature to the Italian literary canon. Among the authors and intellectuals, we will explore Sibilla Aleramo for her literary treatment of the issue of female emancipation at the beginning of the century; Luigi Pirandello and his work as a novelist and playwright; Gabriele D’Annunzio as a poet, playwright, and novelist but also a war hero and politician; F. T. Marinetti, whose futurist manifestos and literary works reflected his desire to renew Italian art, literature, and culture in general; B. Mussolini’s fascist regime, its dictates, and their influence on propaganda literature and cinema; Ignazio Silone’s novels on the fascist era; Roberto Rossellini’s neorealist cinema; Italo Calvino’s, Beppe Fenoglio’s, and Elio Vittorini’s literature of the Resistance; Primo Levi’s depiction of The Holocaust; and women writers such as Anna Banti, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, and Dacia Maraini. Readings will be supplemented by secondary source material that will help outline the social, historical, and political context in which these authors lived and wrote, as well as provide a relevant critical framework for the study of their works. On occasion, we will watch films that are relevant to the topics and period in question. No previous knowledge of Italian is required. Students proficient in Italian may opt to read sources in the original language and write their conference projects in Italian. Conference topics may include the study of a particular author, literary text, or topic relevant to the course and that might be of interest to the student.

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Pattern

Open, Seminar—Fall

This seminar will study patterns in nature and design from the mathematical point of view. Examples will be primarily visual, including beadwork, braids, tilings, trees, waves, and crystals, among others. The workshop format of the class will give students the opportunity to discover, collaboratively, the structures that govern patterns. Students can expect to use both visual and logical reasoning to answer open-ended problems that involve hands-on experimentation and creative problem-solving. By the end of the semester, students will know how to reproduce a given pattern in one, two, or three dimensions; how to identify its symmetries; and how to compare it to related structures. For conference, there is a possibility of service-learning placements in community-based organizations, depending on availability. No particular math background is required. This course is recommended for any students interested in mathematics as the science of patterns and strongly recommended for those studying education.

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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. Investigation of sensory systems has been foundational for psychologists and neuroscientists 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 categories 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: for example, the senses of balance, of body position (proprioception) and ownership, 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 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 that 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 (and have the effects of COVID-19 changed our views of its importance)? 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, with small-group meetings held weekly in addition to the individual conference meetings held every other week. 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. Other group activities include mindful movement and other meditation practices for stress relief and emotional regulation, as well as occasional museum visits if these can be done safely.

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Play and Imagination

Open, Seminar—Fall

Children’s play is considered the primary mode of communication for all children. This course examines children’s embodied storytelling, imaginative drawings, toys, and free play, as children themselves rarely separate play from the arts. A sophisticated set of processes often trivialized, psychologist Brian Sutton-Smith states, “The flexibility of the imagination, of play, and of the playful is the ultimate guarantor of our survival” (1997). Topics to be addressed include: play in the time of COVID, play aggression and trauma, and access to play as a social-justice issue. The course may involve observational fieldwork and online toy study, as we examine children’s opportunities for play, learning, and development. Students will read critical works in the psychology of play and recent cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research. There will be discussions, documentaries, and class presentations. Conference projects may relate to a literature review about a topic of interest, an original study, and/or a creative piece reflecting course insights and imaginings.

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Theories of the Creative Process

Intermediate, Seminar—Fall

The creative process is paradoxical. It involves freedom and spontaneity yet requires expertise and hard work. The creative process is self-expressive yet tends to unfold most easily when the creator forgets about self. The creative process brings joy yet is fraught with fear, frustration, and even terror.The creative process is its own reward yet depends on social support and encouragement. In this class, we look at how various thinkers conceptualize the creative process—chiefly in the arts but in other domains, as well. We see how various psychological theorists describe the process, its source, its motivation, its roots in a particular domain or skill, its cultural context, and its developmental history in the life of the individual. Among the thinkers that we will consider are Freud, Jung, Arnheim, Franklin, and Gardner. Different theorists emphasize different aspects of the process. In particular, we see how some thinkers emphasize persistent work and expert knowledge as essential features while others emphasize the need for the psychic freedom to “let it happen” and speculate on what emerges when the creative person “lets go.” Still others identify cultural context or biological factors as critical. To concretize theoretical approaches, we look at how various ideas can contribute to understanding specific creative people and their work. In particular, we will consider works written by or about Picasso, Woolf, Welty, Darwin, and some contemporary artists and writers. Though creativity is most frequently explored in individuals, we also consider group improvisation in music and theatre. Some past conference projects have involved interviewing people engaged in creative work. Others consisted of library studies centering on the life and work of a particular creative person. Some students chose to do fieldwork at the Early Childhood Center and focus on an aspect of creative activity in young children.

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Art and Visual Perception

Open, Large seminar—Spring

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

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

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Beginning Spanish: A Glimpse Into the Hispanic World through its Language and Culture

Open, Seminar—Year

This course aims to introduce students to the language and culture of the Spanish-speaking world and to promote the development of students’ communicative competence in Spanish. Additionally, the objective is to improve students’ intercultural understanding of—and social conscience about—problems that affect this cultural complex. From the beginning, students will be in touch with authentic Spanish-language films, TV shows, comics, and poems, as well as short literary and nonliterary texts. Throughout the semester, we will actively implement a wide range of techniques aimed at creating an atmosphere of dynamic oral exchanges. Grammatical structures will be taught by resorting to everyday situations and by the incorporation of a wide set of functional-contextual activities. Group conferences will help hone conversational skills, focusing on individual needs. Watching films, documentaries, and episodes of popular TV shows, as well as listening to podcasts and reading blogs and digital publications, will take place outside the seminar meetings and serve as material for class discussions and debates. Weekly conversation sessions with the language assistant are an integral part of the course, since the emphasis of the course is on the communicative approach.

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Intermediate Spanish I: Latin American and Spanish Visual Culture

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

This course is intended for students who have had at least one year of college-level Spanish or the equivalent and who wish to review and expand the fundamentals of the Spanish language. With this, Latin American and Spanish comics, films, and TV shows—such as La casa de las Flores from Mexico, Paco Roca’s Los surcos del Azar, or Luis Ortega’s El Ángel—will provide the cultural and historical background for discussion in class. Films and TV shows work especially well for teaching language, because they can be used to quickly introduce or reinforce vocabulary or a grammatical point and also show their use, in context, by native speakers. Besides, space restrictions force comic-strip writers to get to the point, making comics a perfect source of useful vocabulary. The goal that most comic writers have of appealing to as many readers as possible also means that comics are a perfect source of basic, everyday terms and expressions. Students will gain key vocabulary for discussing cultural objects, write descriptive profiles, and even make their own comic book or record a podcast in Spanish. In addition, students will watch films, TV shows, and read comics outside the seminar meetings in order to reinforce the work that we do in class. Individual conference meetings will offer students an opportunity to complete independent research projects and to address individual language-acquisition needs. Weekly conversation sessions with a language assistant are also an integral part of the course.

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Directing: The Expanded Field

Advanced, Component—Year

What does a director do? How do we expand our understanding of direction? Directing: The Expanded Field troubles these questions by exploring the responsibilities, challenges, and opportunities available to a theatre director. The fall semester will focus on skills for directing scripted plays, including text analysis, collaboration, concept development, and staging. The spring semester will expand the director’s role by considering various artistic methodologies, including socially engaged art, devised and ensemble-generated theatre, and lecture-performance. Throughout the year, students will learn through readings and media created by contemporary directors, artists, and thinkers from a variety of lived experiences and disciplines. Students will practice and experiment with directing methods through writing assignments, presentations, scene work, and iterative performance experiments. Students will perform in one another’s scenes and collaborate on multiple projects. Rooted in justice-based pedagogy and community-driven care, the course aims to challenge and expand the boundaries of directing performance.

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First-Year Studies: Two Lenses on Writing

Open, FYS—Year

The first semester of this FYS course will be focused on words and pictures, with its central lens on stories: how to find them, tell them, and make your listener, viewer, or reader come along with you. The course includes adding a visual element, photography, drawing, paste-ups, collage, animations, anime. We will read and then make a few of the following: a collective graphic novel, some children's books, adult books with pictures, illuminated manuscripts, comics. Your conference work will be a finished version of a project of your choice. The second semester of the course will be a class in episodes: pieces of a continuing story that follow a thread but may have different leading characters in each episode; or a frame, with many peoples' stories inside; or movement from one time, place, and set of characters to another. We will bring in and discuss episodes that we love in books, TV, podcasts. We will do exercises until we come upon something that engages us and then start our conference work, which will involve six episodes, more or less. In both semesters, we will have an extra meeting every other week to discuss whatever comes up: paper writing, social issues, food, procrastination. These sessions may be led by the professor, outside speakers, or a rotating group of students.

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The Unconscious, the Absurd, the Sublime, and the Impossibly Probable

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

This one-semester workshop will venture into unexpected fictional territories: dream narratives, preposterous situations served up matter-of-factly, unscary ghost stories, speculative fiction, and virtuosic works that elude comprehension but deliver you to the profound and pleasurable edges of apprehension. To jar us from our more prosaic and safe forms of fiction, we will begin the semester with a series of exercises inspired by the stories of authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Borges, Nabokov, George Saunders, Carmen Maria Machado, and Octavia Butler, as well as essays by Carl Jung, Immanuel Kant, and Charles Baxter. You will generate your conference work from the readings and exercises, develop it through close critique in our classes and conferences, present first drafts in preliminary workshops, and, finally, submit your best work in a series of formal workshops at the end of the semester.

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The Basics, Not Excluding the Virtuosic

Open, Seminar—Fall

In this one-semester, fiction-writing workshop, you will acquaint yourselves with basic elements of fiction such as point of view, character, plot and structure, dialogue and exposition, detail and scene. We will study these elements as put into practice by a wide range of virtuosic writers: Jamaica Kincaid, Donald Barthelme, ZZ Packer, James Baldwin, Raymond Carver, and Gina Bierault, among others. We will also familiarize ourselves with concepts related to the craft and imaginative process of fiction, such as counterpoint characterization, defamiliarization, narrative urgency, etc. The core of the course is the students’ own development as fiction writers. We have a lot of fun trying numerous exercises and approaches to stories. We work closely in conference on your writing to develop your crafting of scenes, at first, and then meet in small groups to workshop your first drafts. You are responsible for writing critiques of each other’s stories, as well as participating thoughtfully and actively in the workshop discussion. By the end of the semester, each of you will present at least one final developed story for our workshop discussion.

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Fiction Writing Workshop

Open, Seminar—Year

Nabokov stated that there are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: as a storyteller, as a teacher, or as an enchanter. We will consider all three, but it is with the art of enchantment that this workshop is most dedicated. We will walk through the process of writing a story. Where does the story come from? How do we know when we are ready to begin? How do we avoid succumbing to safe and unoriginal decisions and learn to recognize and trust our more mysterious and promising impulses? How do our characters guide the work? How do we come to know an ending, and how do we earn that ending? And finally, how do we create the enchantment necessary to involve, persuade, and move the reader in the ways that fiction is most capable. Our course will investigate the craft of fiction through readings, discussion, and numerous exercises. In the second semester, we move on to explore dream narratives, the sublime, the absurd, and the fantastic. We study a democratically chosen novel and, possibly, graphic fiction and a film. Our objective is for you to write, revise, and workshop at least one fully developed story each semester.

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Ecopoetry

Open, Seminar—Year

In this poetry class—a yearlong school of poetry and the living world—we will consider the great organism Gaia, of which we are a part. We will read and write poems every week. We will ask questions: When did we begin to think of nature as apart from us? Why did we begin to speak of the animals as if we are not also animals? What are the stories and myths that have determined our attitude toward what we are and what we believe? We will read some of these stories and myths (myths of creation; Eden, the lost garden). We will read the long and rich tradition of poetry addressing itself to this subject, from the early indigenous peoples through the Zen monks and Wordsworth and right up through Gary Snyder to utterly contemporary poets writing right now. We will read books and articles that teach us about the other animals and living entities that we call plants and trees and planets and galaxies. Each student will research an aspect of the living world and teach the rest of us what they have learned. And we will write poems that incorporate that knowledge. We will read books of poems but also watch films, take field trips, and meet with each other outside of class in weekly poetry dates. By the end of the class, my hope is that each of us will have a greater understanding of the great organism that we call Earth and will create a collection of poems that engage the questions that our class raises: What is time? What is death? What is Eden? Where is the garden now? Who are the other organisms? How have we, as a species, affected the other organisms? How have we affected the oceans, the Earth, the air? How can poetry address the planetary emergency? Required for this class: intellectual curiosity, empathy, and a willingness to observe the world, to pay attention, and to write poetry that matters. This is a class for experienced writers, as well as for those who want to give writing poetry a try. All are welcome.

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To Hold the Unsayable: A Poetry Workshop

Open, Seminar—Spring

A true poem can’t be paraphrased. In bright and interesting language, a poem seems to hold the unsayable. That’s the miracle of it. How do we do that? In this course, we will immerse ourselves in the practice of the art of poetry, focusing on a specific aspect of the art each week: image, metaphor, diction, syntax, musicality, tone, etc. We will write a poem every week and read poems that will instruct and inspire us. (Poet Spencer Reece calls books of poems “Sacred Suitcases”—you can take them anywhere.) We will read each other’s poems. We will read essays written by poets. We will write observations in our journals. We will look at visual art, listen to music, watch films. If you have never taken a poetry class before, this class is for you. If you have taken poetry classes before, this workshop is for you. I ask for generosity of spirit, curiosity, respect, and commitment. We form a community of artists and, within that community, find support and strength. We will have a wonderful time.

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