syllabus SPRING 2012


Section 1-  Kristin Tollefson R 1:00-3:50am MCC 603
Section 2 - Tina Aufiero W 1:00-3:50pm MCC 603
Section 4 - Ruth Marie Tomlinson T 9:00-11:50am  MCC 603
Section 3 - Ephraim Russell  T 1:00-3:50pm  MCC 603
Section 5 - Shawn Ferris W 9:00-11:50am  MCC 603
ALL Sections     Thursdays  7:00-8:00pm         


course description

First-year students explore the underlying principles for making art. Notions of what art is, what it does, and what it is made of are explored and challenged. Contemporary art practice is introduced through artist lectures, screenings, field trips and reinforced by assignments. The course explores concept generation and development including: research, drawing, writing and exercises. Projects incorporate concepts, media, and techniques from all freshman coursework and will explore inter-media solutions. Responsive critical thinking is applied to both observation and working processes. In addition, students will document their process and work, and begin to learn about presentation.

spring focus

We will continue our focus on INSPIRATION, where it comes from, how we cultivate it, what we do with it, and where to turn when it seems evaporated. We will also concentrate our focus on INTER-MEDIA work. Contemporary Art is full of examples where different mediums, processes, and techniques collide: Allan McCollum makes computer-generated drawings and makes objects to create installations, Andrea Zittel sews, knits, and designs space to realize her concepts, Janine Antoni uses video, sculpture, and performance, William Kentridge draws, photographs and makes animations, Bruce Nauman uses neon, video, sculpture and projections to create installations. There is no end to the inventive ways artist cross media boundaries. These collisions often act as cross-fertilization not just in what is physically possible but to our ideas and thinking as well. You will have the opportunity to bring together approaches from your different Studio X classes in this semester’s projects. Our focus will be invention and opening ourselves to new possibilities.

important dates

  • ·       1.10.12 - Merit Scholarship applications  (in art office by 5pm)
  • ·       3.19-3.23 - Freshman Roll Call
  • ·       4.2.12 – Merit Scholarship Exhibition
  • ·       4.16-4.20 – Freshman Exhibition


goals and objectives

You will find the general goals and objectives remain the same throughout the year. It never hurts to take a look at them again and consider how you are doing.

contemporary art practice

establishing a context for the understanding of our roles as artists and what is available to us as artists.

  •   gain new understanding of contemporary art and its context
  •   experience various art methodologies including materials, techniques, ways of working and modes of presentation
  •  develop agility with basic design elements and organizational strategies

studio practice

develop an artistic practice and work ethic that reflects integrity, dedication to professional growth, the confidence to take risks, and social responsibility.

  • acquire basic skills and the ability to utilize intentional craft
  •  learn to integrate technique, materials, and ideas
  • develop capability to creatively solve visual problems 
  •  gain confidence in articulating the intention and motivation of a work
  • cultivate skills for working productively in a group studio

concept generation &development

utilize multiple strategies to recognize inspiration and develop that inspiration to artistic conclusions.

  • explore research as a means of broadening artistic endeavors
  • utilize observation as a tool: drawing, writing, and other means of recording
  • develop processes that support artistic practice: journals, process books, blogs
  • employ drawing & model making as a generative tool
  • develop and experience collaborative processes

critical thinking

develop a capacity to think critically and write and speak clearly about the visual arts.

  • gain ability to assess quality and impact of final works
  • experience critique as a dialogue to discuss work
  • utilize writing -  both expository & narrative as a means of greater understanding


initiate the practices necessary for sharing work with a larger community.

  •  practice photographing in-process and completed works
  • utilize writing as a means of enriching presentation
  • begin archiving and publishing work electronically
  • experience preparing and hanging work for viewing



As with any studio course, the most important materials for this class are self-generated: attentiveness, perseverance, participation, and a willingness to express and discuss one’s point of view. Additionally, participating fully in this course requires coming to the studio prepared with the supplies, the ideas, and the materials called for as well as contributing to discussions and actively engaging with your peers. Successful students are here all the time.

course work

Completion of all exercises, assignments, and finished projects is required, naturally! These assignments will include not only “art” projects, but also readings, writing, research, dialogue, presentations, and reflective practice.



Each of you will be maintaining a blog that tracks your process, your progress, your inspirations, your reviews and responses.


You are expected to dedicate at least 3 extra hours per week to the pursuits of this class. Among the things you will be asked to do outside class are: text and article readings, library research, lecture attendance, searches for subject matter and materials, exhibition visits, independent studio work on current projects and assignments.

creative development

Your creative development is determined by you commitment to skill development, self-motivation to learn about art, a significant investment of time and concentration in the increased quality of your work, and willingness to take risks in service of developing your work.

the studio

  •   Jessica Bender supervises our studio. She is here to assist you in your process and keep the studio running for everyone, but not clean up after you.   
  •  Be sure that what ever tools and materials you have touched find their way back home.
  •   Dispose of unused materials properly and conscientiously.
  • Clean you work area: wiping down the tables and sweeping the floor.
  •  Keep all work-in-progress in your cubby, locker, or take it with you, unless it is being displayed or arrangements have been made with your instructor to store it in the classroom. 
  • At the close of each project critique, all work should be taken away from the classroom permanently.
  • The studio is quite full this year, but there may be times it is open for you to use. We will keep you informed.

general safety

Please inform yourself of safety procedures for this room, including emergency evacuation routes and the location of the closest first aid kits and fire extinguishers. Consult the Health & Safety Procedures  booklet posted near doors and eyewash stations. Detailed information is also provided in the College Student Hand Book.  


You will be evaluated on your performance in relation to all course expectations detailed above. Cluster grades include your projects, your understanding of the concepts presented and your engagement with all events related to the cluster. Any criteria particular to a specific project will be detailed as we move through the semester.

grade distribution

65%     cluster 6-9

15%     Thursday Night involvement and response

15%     criticism and reflective practice This includes our last cluster that will focus on critical writing

5%     semester creative development

grade range and description

  A         95 –100    Outstanding work; self motivated; significant time invested;

 A-        90 –  94           increased quality; takes risks; contributes to group; excellent attendance.

 B+       87 –  89    Above average effort in all of the above; A realistic understanding of

 B         83 –  86           one’s strengths and willingness to reach beyond to improve.

 B-        80 –  82                                    

 C+       77 –  79    Basic completion of projects; satisfactory understanding of course

 C         73 –  76           objectives; satisfactory to poor attendance; minimal participation

 C-        70 –  72           in class dialogue.  

 D+       67 –  69    Below average; incomplete work; should consider carefully if this is the

 D         63 –  66           right direction.

 D-        60 –  62

 F          59  

attendance policy (college wide)

  • ·       Tardy = 10+ minutes late to arrive or 10+ minutes early to leave
  • ·       If you are tardy 2 x = 1 absence, 4 x = 2 absences etc.
  • ·       30 min late/early departure = 1 absence  
  • ·       3 unexcused absences = drop 1 letter grade
  • ·       5 unexcused absences = drop 2 letter grades
  • ·       6 unexcused absences = failure or recommended withdrawal 

If you ever feel you don’t understand what is being expected of you or the grading process is unclear, refer to this document and feel free to talk with the instructor. 

ADA (AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT) INFORMATION: If you are a student with a documented disability and you need accommodations, please make an appointment with the Director of Student Affairs.