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 mini-courses ­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.

2019-2020 Courses

Visual and Studio Arts

First-Year Studies: The Way Things Go

Open , FYS—Year

The title of this course is borrowed from the 1987 art film by Peter Fichli and David Weiss, which follows a sequence of causal interactions in a Rube Goldberg-like way. Each object and action affects the next, as the piece evolves over space and time and with great sensory range. In this interdisciplinary studio FYS course, students will be asked to consider their own art-making practice as an interconnected group of acts that evolve over time. Ideas in any creative endeavor rarely arrive fully formed, but creativity, understanding, and clarity come through committed engagement with the act of making. All of our senses contribute to the way we understand the world around us and, consequently, inform how and why we make art. When we see something we’re excited by, we simultaneously hear, smell, or feel something else—which, in turn, affects our initial point of view. This sensory interconnectedness will serve as our course’s foundation, and students will delve deeply into ways of translating the raw data of experience into art. To do so, you will be asked to develop a rigorous studio practice and to work across a full range of mediums—drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, performance, video, photography, sound. Each work will inform the next as your ideas are translated across mediums. As we progress through the year, your artworks will evolve in unexpected ways, challenging you to recognize their potential to affect your subsequent actions. This class will alternate biweekly conferences with biweekly small-group activities, including project and conference work critiques, attendance at the Visual and Studio Arts Lecture Series, museum/gallery tours, and visits to artist studios in the New York City area.

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Beginning Painting

Open , Seminar—Fall and Spring

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

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Painterly Print

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course is a 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 their individual ideas, 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 material, film clips and video screenings, group critiques, homework projects, and visits to artist studios.

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Relief Printmaking

Open , Seminar—Spring

This course is designed to introduce students to a range of relief printing techniques while assisting them 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 a print shop, printing an edition, talking critically about one’s work, and developing a process of visual story telling. The course will be supplemented with technical demonstrations, critiques, field trips, and slide lectures.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio I

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Fall

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

This course is intended for advanced visual-arts students interested in pursuing their own art-making processes more fully. Students making work in painting, drawing, sculpture, video, mixed media, performance, etc. 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. In the fall semester, students will be given open-ended prompts from which they will be asked to experiment with how they make work and will be encouraged to work across mediums. The fall semester portion of the course will serve as a preparation for the spring semester, when students will focus exclusively on their own interests and will be expected to develop a sophisticated, cohesive body of independent work accompanied by an artist’s statement and exhibition. We will have regular critiques, readings, image discussions, and trips to artist studios and will participate integrally with the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for disciplined art students interested in making art in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Drawing into Painting: A Sense of Place

Intermediate/Advanced , Seminar—Spring

To look at a place closely, to spend time with it while drawing or painting it is, in a sense, to own it. In this course, students explore their own sense of place in the different locations around Sarah Lawrence College. Students will travel to various destinations to collect source materials, such as drawings, photographs, written notes, and painting sketches; they will work on larger and more complex drawings and paintings in the studio. Through quick studies and finished paintings, students will observe and create an intimate relationship with their chosen landscape 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 drawing and painting, as well as the formal, cultural, and political connotations that a landscape genre can contain. The course is supplemented with keynote presentations, class critiques, and field trips.

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The Body, Inside Out: Drawing and Painting Studio

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

Course preference will be given to those who have painting and/or drawing experience.

This will be a rigorous art course that explores the theme of the body in transformative ways and across the mediums of drawing and painting. The figure will be our main subject, and in-class work will be designed to provoke students to investigate the body physically, psychologically, emotionally, scientifically, and socially. We will paint and draw from live models, from ourselves, and across other diverse media sources. For context, we will look at depictions of the figure from prehistory through contemporary art, as issues of the body in space and the dynamic between the artist and model are extremely relevant in today’s art world. Through direct, immersive observation and imaginitive interpretation, the works you make will be stylistically varied, experimental, and exploratory. You’ll be asked to challenge the conventional dynamic between drawing and painting and, in doing so, push yourselves to make works that defy easy categorization and question the norms of traditional figurative art. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, and image lectures for context. Trips to see exhibitions and artist studios will be an integral component of the class, and attendance at the Visiting Artist Lecture Series is mandatory.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio II

Advanced , Seminar—Spring

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

This is a continuation of the fall-semester course and is intended for advanced visual arts students interested in pursuing their own art-making processes more fully. Students making work in painting, drawing, sculpture, video, mixed media, performance, etc. 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. During this spring semester, students will focus exclusively on their own interests and will be expected to develop a sophisticated, cohesive body of independent work accompanied by an artist’s statement and exhibition. We will have regular critiques, readings, image discussions, and trips to artist studios and will participate integrally with the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for disciplined art students interested in making art in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Performance Art

Open , Seminar—Spring

Since the early 20th century, artists have explored performance art as a radical means of expression. In both form and function, performance pushes the boundaries of contemporary art. Artists use the medium for institutional critique, social activism, and to address the personal politics of gender, sexuality, and race. This course 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 performance artworks. Artists and art movements surveyed in this class include Dada, Happenings, Fluxus, Viennese Actionism, Gutai Group, Act-Up, Joseph Beuys, Judson Church, Womanhouse, 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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Silkscreen Printing

Open , Seminar—Fall

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

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Narrative, Printmaking, and Artist Books

Open , Seminar—Spring

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

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

Open , Seminar—Fall

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

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The Tool and the Staff: Sculpture and Ritual

Open , Seminar—Fall and Spring

This one-semester class will look at sculptural practice through the lens of ritual. How does sculpture influence the social space in which we live and come to aid in the way we move through life? How can objects bridge the gap between profane and sacred space and serve as a marker for various points of transition and uncertainty in human existence? In this class, we will try to answer some of these questions through projects that will use object-making and discussions about contemporary sculpture as our primary points of reference. Wood, plaster, metal, and casting techniques will be introduced as ways of working sculpturally. Students do not need experience with any of these disciplines to take part in this class, though a high degree of curiosity and self-motivation will be required to do well. As part of the class, we will look at various texts that speak to the way ritual creates meaning and richness in life while, at the same, comparing it to canonical writings on sculpture in order to look for potential overlaps between contemporary art and ritual studies. Students should expect a rigorous semester that combines artistic experimentation and critical thinking skills. Some artists at whom we will be looking include Nari Ward, Doris Salcedo, Mike Kelley, Cildo Meireles, Ana Mendieta, Jason Rhoades, Janine Antoni, Matthew Barney, and others.

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Introduction to Digital Imaging

Open , Seminar—Fall

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

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3D Modeling

Open , Seminar—Spring

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

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Art From Code

Open , Seminar—Fall

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 Molnár, Nees, Hertlein, Rauschenberg, and others. Taught in Processing/Java.

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New Genres: Drawing Machines

Open , Seminar—Spring

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

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Beginning Games: Level Design

Open , Seminar—Spring

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

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New Genres: Cultural HiJack

Sophomore and above , Small seminar—Fall

Is art the new politics? Cultural HiJack examines the work of artists attempting to subvert, critique, and overthrow the dominant paradigm through street art, anti-advertising, meme wars, flash mobs, instant theatre, guerilla projection, and spatial intervention. Artists surveyed include Guerrilla Girls, RTMark, Rosler, Holzer, Marchessault, Banksy, Fairey, Acconci, and Franco and Eva Mattes, along with readings from Dery, Klein, Debord, Gramsci, Lacy, and others. Working individually or in small groups, students will collaborate on campaigns of détournement, designing and implementing inventions of their own through alternative and hybrid forms.

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Media Burn: Moving Image Installation in Practice

Open , Seminar—Year

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

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Intermediate Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

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

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Problems in Photography

Open , Seminar—Year

This class will deal with the ways that contemporary artists working in photography discover and develop the problems central to their work. Looking at the work of a single artist—or even a single work by an artist—will provide an opportunity to unearth and understand the influences and histories on which that work depends. We will use these encounters to help focus and understand our own picture making. This is an art class and will be centered on student work and critique; however, students should expect reading and looking assignments, as well. Previously, this class was taught as a survey; this time, it will deal more singularly with questions in photography. The first semester will oscillate between explorations of specific projects from art history and contemporary practice, followed by related assignments and critique. The second semester will open up some, and students will be encouraged to develop independent projects in photography. An interest in art history and basic knowledge of DSLR cameras, inkjet printing, and Adobe Photoshop is encouraged.

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Black-and-White Analog Photography

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course explores the camera as a device that frames and translates three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional surface. Through assignments and individual investigation, students acquire a deeper understanding of visual perception and photography as a medium for personal expression. The course introduces students to film-based photographic processes and assumes no prior knowledge of photography. The class will also cover some history of photography, basic critical theory, and critique. Students are expected to spend approximately $300 dollars for supplies.

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Basic Analog Black-and-White Photography

Open , Seminar—Spring

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

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Drawing From Nature

Open , Seminar—Fall

The world we inhabit and learn to navigate with awe, delight, and wonder is filled with things whose existence we had no hand in making. How do you see your own individuality and importance when facing the vast and incomprehensible backdrop of nature? To escape the turmoil of earthly confinement, nature has come to represent both the desire for freedom and our need for order. Before written language, drawing was a way to understand our connection to the world around us, a way to record a sense of place, to mark where one was, here, in relationship to something else there. This course will focus on themes and concepts of landscape, on seeing and understanding nature through observation, documentation, journeying, mapping, and locating one’s perceived place in a world that is partly real and partly invented.

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Color

Open , Seminar—Fall

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

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Lost and Found: Collage and the Recycled Image

Open , Seminar—Spring

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

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Look at You: The Portrait

Open , Seminar—Spring

The portrait has served a myriad of functions over time. The likeness or impression of a single face can inform or define identity, build ties to past history, perpetuate concepts and ideals of beauty and gender, ensure immortality, and/or establish social status, to mention only a few. For the artist, portraiture creates a bridge between the psychological and the scientific by revealing the operation of the mind of both the viewed and the viewer. The focus of this course will be on the structure beneath bone and muscle, both formally and symbolically; the creative potential of the portrait—and portraiture in general—explored through observation; and memory. Daily exercises using a variety of methods, means, and materials, both inside and outside the studio, to build and reinforce disciplined, sustained work habits will be key in growing the technical and observational skills necessary to represent what, for each individual, a portrait might be.

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Beginning Games: Level Design

Sophomore and above , Small seminar—Fall

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

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First-Year Studies: Histories and Theories of Photography

Open , FYS—Year

What is a photograph? This course looks at that question from many different vantage points, including photography theory, social history, art history, media theory, and material culture studies. How is a photograph both a transcription of the world—an index, decal, or one-to-one transfer of a thing—and a representation, a culturally-encoded image that tells us about how we see ourselves and others in the world? We each hold thousands of photographs on our phones, but they are digital, disembodied, and dematerialized images that are simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. What can the history of photography (from 1839 to the present) teach us about the medium’s materiality—or how photographs were to be found in albums, lavish frames, photobooks, archives, the wall in a museum, or as slides projected on a screen? What do these material histories tell us about what photography was—and now is? This course will look closely at specific themes within the history and theory of photography, including: documentary aesthetics and discourses of colonization; photography’s archival practices and forms of social control; identity politics and the photographic representation of visibility; digitization and contemporary photography; globalization, labor, and photojournalism; and the ethics and politics of the photography of war and violence. Not a comprehensive survey, this course instead looks at focused case studies structured chronologically. We will do close readings of theoretical and primary source texts and consider scholarly, literary, and aesthetic texts. The course also places strong emphasis on what it means to write about and describe photographs. Whenever possible, we will look at photographs in person. Individual conference meetings will alternate biweekly with group activities that may include field trips to New York City collections, writing workshops, and research sessions in the library.

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Histories of Modern and Contemporary Art

Open , Lecture—Year

This is a yearlong course but will be open to new enrollments in the spring.

This course is an introduction to modern and contemporary art from 1880 to the present. In the fall semester, we will explore modernist histories of art, investigating how artists responded to a world that was ravaged by fascism, colonialism, and war; altered by industry, technology, and rationalized forms of labor; and tested by shifting national, ethnic, and gendered identities. What representational strategies did artists use to respond to those upheavals? How is the history of Western avant-gardist art also one of colonization and cultural appropriation? The course serves as an introduction to the historical avant-gardes in the United States, Mexico, and Europe—including Impressionism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Cubism, Constructivism, Vorticism, Dada, Surrealism, Muralism, the Harlem Renaissance, and Abstract Expressionism—and to alternative modernisms that fall outside the canon, including so-called “outsider” art, queer modernisms, and modernisms in India, Japan, and Latin America. In the spring, we will explore a sea change that began in the 1960s—against a changing social, economic, and political sphere—as artists tested modernist categories of painting and sculpture; incorporated new technologies such as television and video into their art; and questioned the hierarchies of art’s production, reception, and display through protest, activism, and audience participation. We will look closely at how artists embraced radicality by protesting for civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights and by claiming an antiwar politics. In the last 20 years, all of this shifted with the return to traditional categories of painting and sculpture and the rise of the global art market. Although we will look at art since the 2000s, the main focus is art from 1960 to 2000, including Gutai, happenings, neoconcretism, pop art, Fluxus, minimalism, global conceptual art, site-specificity, earthworks, the Chicano Art Movement, AfriCOBRA, feminism, video art, institutional critique, installation, activist art, participatory art, relational aesthetics, craft, and new media. Throughout, we will focus on specific artworks and gain a vocabulary for close looking while also attending to primary sources (manifestos, letters, statements, poems) and secondary art historical and theoretical accounts. Group conferences will closely investigate works by a single artist. Assignments will include visual analysis papers based on works in New York City collections, exams, and reading responses.

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Lift Up Your Hearts: Art and Architecture of the Baroque—Europe and Its Colonies, 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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The Actor’s Voice Over: An Intensive Exploration of Voice Work

Open , Seminar—Year

This class will meet once a week for three hours in the Heimbold Sound Booth.

Have you ever wondered who performs the voices that you encounter in your everyday life? You spend a portion of each day listening, waiting, and learning from these voices—the familiar voices you hear when watching television commercials, the annoying voice that tells you to hold and that your call is important. Voices are everywhere. These voices are created by performers. You hear them in the narration of documentaries, television and radio commercials, animation, graphic novels, video games, phone applications, podcasts, audio books, audio tours, tutorials, and PSAs. In each class session, students will work with a sound editor on a variety of projects—from film and television to commercial spokesperson copy, group ADR, ambience, (wala wala)—creating believable character voices for animation. Students will also investigate breathing and relaxation techniques, appropriate pacing, enunciation, flexibility, and clarity. Facilitating vocal and improvisational exercises, the students will develop what will become their signature voice, as well as investigate and develop character voices for animation. Students will also write original material to be performed and recorded. Conference work will involve specific readings covering the historical aspects of post-production work in film. The student and the professor will decide on a specific aspect of film production work to further investigate.

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The Creative Process: Influence and Resonance

Advanced , 3-credit seminar—Spring

Students may choose to take this course for creative arts credit (creative final project) or humanities credit (final research paper). Permission of the instructor is required.

This seminar/workshop is for advanced students in all of the creative arts—composers, choreographers, writers, and visual artists—who are interested in the process of developing original material. There is no singular creative path, but each artist needs to confront the past in order to find a unique vision, a unique voice. We will examine various influences on creative thought, finding resonant clues and methods in areas outside of one’s chosen creative field. In each session, the point of departure will always begin with music where, for instance, “influence” may be understood as direct musical quotation from a specific composition or a structural idea based on a literary or visual image while “resonance” is about incorporating without actually imitating another composer’s particular sound or translating into music the color and texture of a painting. Since the world is rich with collaborative interconnections, we will explore everything that might have an impact on making new work—from musical antiquity to the far reaches of technology, as well as ritual and myth, the role of nature, art and architecture, literature, memory, politics and protest, nationalism, and global culture. Along with assigned readings and listening to and looking at various media, students will actively seek out and document sources of inspiration and will keep a journal in which they will record their personal experiences and working methods and insights into the creative process. Biweekly group conferences will serve as “open studios,” where individual projects or collaborative work will be explored. The term will culminate in class presentations of either a new work or an in-depth paper based on research.

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Theories of the Creative Process

Intermediate , Seminar—Fall

A background in college-level psychology, social science, or philosophy is required.

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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The Psychological Impact of Art

Open , Seminar—Spring

That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people, and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.—Dave Grohl.

The expressive arts bridge the gap between personal and collective experiences. Music, dance, literature, sculpture, and other creative pursuits allow artists a personal venue for intimate expression; but their products also have influence on thousands of others. Art evokes emotions, changes opinions, forges identities, and can be an anthem for social change. This class will explore how engagement with the arts influences who we are and how we relate to others. We will discuss the relative importance of the process of making art, versus the product itself, for personal growth and fostering social change. Although often thought of as a uniquely personal relationship, psychologists’ understanding of how the arts affect social, cognitive, and affective human behavior is expanding. In this class, students will be encouraged to engage critically with this psychological research and appreciate the difficulties associated with quantifying the impact of the arts.

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Cuban Literature and Film Since 1959—Vivir y pensar en Cuba

Advanced , Seminar—Spring

Taught in Spanish.

Cuba has long exerted a disproportionate fascination for US nationals, perhaps for the world in general. The only socialist country in the Western Hemisphere, Cuba’s relative isolation for decades after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959 and the 57-year (and counting) economic embargo imposed by the United States have exacerbated political animosity between Cubans living on the island and the diaspora and have created polarized (and polaroidized) and stereotypical images (black-and-white or in technicolor) that either idealize Cuba as a tropical earthly paradise or denigrate it as a tyrannical dictatorship, a racially integrated island or a landscape of/in ruins, a socialist utopia or nightmarish dystopia leading to massive exodus, and the Caribbean gulag (complete with a US high-security prison in Guantánamo). This course does not aim exclusively to explore and critique these and other ideas about Cuba, though the context is both inevitable and indispensable to fully understand our subject(s). We want to focus on tracing the evolution of Cuba's literature and film since 1959 and learn about how Cubans live and think in/about Cuba. (The title of the course is the title of a Cuban anthology of essays on Cubans born in and raised with the Revolution.) The leaders of the Cuban Revolution were young and consummately aware that literature, film, photography, the visual arts, and popular culture (comics, popular or traditional music) were extraordinarily useful and effective ways to propagate the Revolution at home—especially when one considers that 57% of the population was illiterate—and abroad. We will read a couple of foundational essays (Che Guevara, Fernández Retamar) and excerpts from speeches (Fidel) in order to understand how literature and the arts are ideologically subsumed into the (new) discourse of the nation, how it evolves and changes over several decades, how the new reality impacts and leads to reconfigured genres (testimony, “social realism,” etc.), and the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet regime and the disastrous effect on Cuba (el período especial). We will explore trends since the 1990s—including contemporary and postmodern voices from the island and those of the diaspora (writing back)—as well as how gender and race have been imagined (or not).

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Intermediate Spanish II: Juventud, divino tesoro...

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Taught entirely in Spanish. Taking the Spanish Placement Test either in the fall of 2019 or early in the spring is recommended before interviewing for this class.

This course will explore Latin American and Spanish literature and film that focuses on youth. Readings will include 20th- and 21st-century authors from as broad a range of countries as possible—as well as films—that consider how gender, race, class, and nationality impact how we perceive the young, how they/we are perceived, and how pressing political or ideological issues are conveyed or displaced through images of youth. We will also review some grammar, mostly aimed at improving writing and expressive skills.

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First-Year Studies: Ecopoetry: Poetry in Relation to the Living World

Open , FYS—Year

Poetry is the human song called out: in joy, in love, in fear, in wonder, in prayer, in rebuke, in war, in peace, in story, and in vision. The human poem collects us together, individuates us, and consoles us. We read poems at funerals, at weddings, graduations...they accompany us through the gates of our lives, in public, or in private...shared through a book, a computer, a letter, a song. Now we find ourselves at the brink of an unstoppable ecological disaster. A change of consciousness is necessary. How can poetry accomplish this? For a long time, we have not noticed how our civilizations and technologies have affected the rest of the living world. This course will ask questions: Who do we think we are? Who taught us that? Who are we in relation to the other animals? To trees and plants? To insects? To stars? How have our human myths informed those relationships? How are those myths evident in our human world today? What is poetry? What is ecopoetry? How can poetry instruct? How can poetry document? How can poetry re-vision? Prophesy? Protest? Preserve? Imagine? In our time together, you will read poetry written by published poets. You will write your own poems, one each week, and share them with each other. You will keep observation journals, meet with another person in our class each week in a poetry date, and meet with me in individual and small-group conferences. We will proceed as curious learners and writers. Through our close study, each of you (in conference work and together) will learn about a very specific aspect of the natural world that interests you (an animal, a forest, a coral reef, etc.) and then teach the rest of us in class what you have learned. We will learn how to write poems about these subjects so that the poem itself becomes an experience we have never had before. And we might slowly move away from the human as the center of the poem and welcome the rest of the living world in. We will know more at the end of this class about the other animals and plants and insects and rivers and oceans. If our hearts break with this deepening relationship, we might also discover a great joy and a new responsibility. We will want to share what we have learned and written with the wider community. We will find ways to do that. I can assure you, we will be changed. Students will have an individual conference every other week and a half-group conference on alternating weeks.

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Our World, Other Worlds

Open , Seminar—Year

This is a writing course that explores the use of episodes in a world made of words. We read short stories, parts of novels, poems, newspaper articles, and essays from many times and worlds and occasionally watch episodes and films. We also do exercises designed to help practice character drawing, dialogue, pacing, composition, editing, and world building. Still, much of the work of the class involves writing episodes of a long work that becomes our conference work and can be completed in one or two semesters. These works are discussed in small groups, whose members become experts on each others’ creations. Many of the works take place in an imaginary world, some are memoirs, others go back and forth between worlds. The course is open but involves a willingness to enter sympathetically into someone else's work over time and to be an informed reader for that person. It also involves the ability to work on a piece of writing for at least a semester.

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Poetry: What Holds the Unsayable

Open , Seminar—Spring

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

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