2013-14 Visual Arts Courses
The goal of the Visual Arts Program is to develop in students a familiarity with creative visual expression, moving beyond speaking and writing. Through different media and materials, we seek to introduce students to the vast potential of the visual arts as a means of self-expression and to engage their imagination and curiosity in giving their ideas aesthetic form. Our classes are designed to foster independent and flexible thinking, as well as discipline, risk-taking and perseverance. We ask students to reflect inward, to demonstrate commitment, curiosity and craft in creating their work, and to be courageous and trust the process of experimentation. Students may develop a rich and deep level of inquiry in each class, as all the classes relate to each other, and also by advancing in a medium by taking a class more than once. Classes include outside readings, sketchbook and writing assignments, a research project, visiting artists and field trips.
Urban Advanced Studies (UAS) classes in the Visual Arts Department are designed to challenge students to deepen their practice in a given discipline. The primary expectation of advanced visual and performing artists is serious involvement with their creative pursuit in a disciplined manner, with a commitment to exploring the practice with curiosity, conviction and technical mastery.
Advanced visual arts projects include a student’s written proposal followed by short preparatory assignments, sketchbook work, journaling, writing, research and readings. The department's expectation is that advanced work in visual arts be more than a mere reflection of a topic or idea as it exists already. We ask students to push into what is personally meaningful, to explore it, to critique it, to transcend it, express their ideas and expand the audience’s understanding. The creative process necessary for this articulation often involves several iterations, re-workings and re-makings. Students sharpen their technical skills and demonstrate an understanding of formal and conceptual issues through projects that require independent exploration. Advanced students develop fluency with a variety of techniques and approaches in the specific disciplines, completing a final project during the 12 week term that is either exhibited or performed publicly.
Photography: Bookmaking is a studio course introducing students to the art of bookmaking through a historical and contemporary lens. Students study various structures of visual books, design fundamentals, and the use of text and image. We will discuss the changing landscape of artist book production and distribution through the availability and affordability of self-publishing via online publishing companies, D.I.Y. production of zines and other non-traditional media. The class focuses on the properties of photographs and the meanings created when they are combined into groups, series and sequences. Students' final project is a book based on their personal interest and particular work. Skills taught include basic handmade book structures, image transfer techniques, layout software programs, and advanced digital printing techniques. The ultimate goal is for each student is to further develop their aesthetic vocabulary and to work independently, creating a body of work that demonstrates engagement, commitment and creative vision. Bookmaking also includes outside readings, slide shows, sketchbook and writing assignments, a research project, visiting artists and field trips. (1/2 Credit)
Drawing/Mixed Media focuses on mark making as a means of expression, learning to see the world around us and recording what we see through lines and textures on a two-dimensional surface. Daily technical exercises help each student develop skills in drawing from observation, as well as fluidity with materials and familiarity with working with both abstraction and representation. We will examine the myriad ways drawings can serve an artist's creativity. The process of drawing engages the student in quieting the mind, connecting the eyes with the hands and the imagination. This class encourages students to draw upon their own experiences and interests and to translate them into a visual vocabulary that is personally meaningful. While the first half of the class will focus on more traditional drawing techniques, the second half will explore alternative approaches and materials. Each student will complete an independent project as a means of expanding their repertoire of skills, creating an individual body of work. In addition to a daily studio practice, this class includes outside readings, writings and regular sketchbook assignments. (1/2 credit)
Media Literacy: Critical Consumption is a studio class offering students the opportunity to read and create media messages. Students will critically analyze and challenge the messages that entertain, advertise, and deliver information to us on a daily basis. The focus will be on the intended and unintended meanings of all forms of media, including music, web environments, film, television, journalism, advertising, video games, and more. Students will mimic and improve upon strategies used by media makers to create their own messages. A major final project will focus on the individual student’s interest and will be produced and presented in the public realm. Possible projects include Public Service Announcements, radio segments, magazines/’zines,’ posters or billboards, and websites. The ultimate goal is for each student to feel empowered by their understanding of media constructs, to learn the medium’s unique codes, conventions, benefits, and limitations, and to finally use this knowledge to create their own messages demonstrating engagement, commitment and creative vision. The class also includes outside readings, presentations, sketchbook and writing assignments, visiting artists and field trips. (Open to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.) (1/2 Credit)
Painting is designed as a studio class that teaches students about working with paint and exploring a range of manners in which to apply it. We cover two fundamental issues in this class: learning about color, light, space and the handling of paint; and exploring the beauty of forms and color. Projects in class range from painting people, places and things while simultaneously exploring ideas about abstraction, representation and expression. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own lives, experiences, interests and hobbies as inspiration for their work while building their skill and understanding of the paint. Studio work is supplemented with group and individual critiques, sketchbook homework (both assigned and independent), as well as readings and writings. The ultimate goal is for each student to develop an individual visual vocabulary and to transform an assignment into a quest that demonstrates curiosity, commitment and craft. (1/2 credit)
Printmaking explores a range of printmaking processes, including monotype, collograph, drypoint, etching and photo-etching. Monotype offers spontaneity, collographs explore texture and materials, while drypoint and etching focus on precision of detail and composition. Students work with drawings, collage, color and photographs in creating the plates for their prints. A series of exercises revolve around the creative aspects important to any artistic pursuit, such as developing drawings, considering content, experimenting with composition, and learning what it is to be consistent and diligent with challenging projects. The class encourages students to draw upon their own experiences and interests and to translate these into a visual vocabulary that is personally meaningful. Students work toward a final project juxtaposing images in layers and multiple prints, working with content that relates back to their own interests. (1/2 credit)
Sculpture: Clay and Mixed Media is a studio workshop class about making sculpture, working with a variety of materials and ways of thinking three-dimensionally. Students work in both subtractive and additive manners, incorporating basic aesthetic concepts such as line, texture, composition, balance, mass, space, rhythm, tension, movement, light, and density. Students explore the relationship between form and content in materials such as chanduilding techniques in clay, wire, and found object assemblage. Projects investigate representation (people and things), kinetic and/or mechanical objects, abstraction and architecturally inspired design/installation. Each student creates a large clay head, working with a study of anatomy and expression. Students are encouraged to think expansively about the alchemical transmutation of unusual everyday materials in order to reveal the conceptual aspects of their work. Weekly homework includes making small sculptures at home as well as reading, writing and sketchbook assignments. (1/2 credit)
UAS Stone Carving explores many aspects of sculpture through the process of carving, specifically the reductive process of taking material away to create form. We make maquettes in clay that are then translated into different types of stone, usually alabaster or soap stone. Students are expected to complete one 3D stone sculpture and to actively pursue their paths of inquiry in a sketchbook. This will involve a continual process of drawing as a tool for design, as well as keeping a sketchbook of ideas, changes and discoveries, and the study of the work of other artists who work in stone, both traditional as well as contemporary. We will explore resources for stone within the Bay Area and visit with local stone sculptors. The development of appropriate studio skills, effective working habits, and a commitment to one's inquiry is a base level requirement for each student. This class includes reading, writing, research as well as group critique and discussions. Personal integrity and a high level of commitment are essential. This class requires a lot of patience and hard work. Prerequisite: Minimum one term of Sculpture or instructor approval. Open to Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors. (1/2 credit)
Photography is a studio class, offering students an opportunity to work more independently, deepening their understanding of photography’s history and studio practice. The class includes a broad and intensive investigation into the properties of photographs and the meanings created when they are combined into groups, series and sequences. Students may pursue work in traditional black and white, color, or digital photography. Class exercises develop skills in composition, lighting, editing and printing images. Class demonstrations range from traditional processes to alternative techniques with a focus on individual creative expression. The ultimate goal is for each student to further develop their aesthetic vocabulary and to work independently, creating a body of work that demonstrates engagement, commitment and creative vision. Photography also includes outside readings, slide shows, sketchbook and writing assignments, a research project, visiting artists and a field trip. (1/2 Credit)
Video Production is a studio class, introducing students to the creative and technical aspects of video arts. Through viewing and studying the techniques employed by contemporary video artists and filmmakers, students will make several short videos practicing different approaches. Class exercises develop skills in story development, filming, composition, lighting, directing, editing, and working collaboratively. The ultimate goal is for each student to develop their aesthetic vocabulary further, to work both collaboratively and independently, creating short videos that demonstrate engagement, commitment and creative vision. Video production also includes sketchbook and writing assignments, viewing films outside of class, visiting artists and field trips. Open to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. (1/2 Credit)
UAS Advanced Visual Art Seminar: Students with prior art experience work independently with a sustained focus throughout the 12 weeks. Advanced students submit a proposal for approval by the supervising teacher. The primary expectation of advanced artists is serious involvement with the making of art in a disciplined manner, with a commitment to exploring ideas with curiosity, craft and conviction. Students sharpen their technical skills and demonstrate an understanding of formal and conceptual issues through their projects. Advanced students develop fluency with visual vocabulary, utilizing appropriate materials and technique to best articulate their ideas. Visual projects include short preparatory assignments, sketchbook work, journaling, writing, research and readings. Expanding each student's unique repertoire of techniques, materials, and aesthetic and conceptual processes is essential to developing their personal vision in a creative and meaningful manner. The advanced class culminates in the creation of a final exhibition. This class is demanding, requires long hours of hard work and is most appropriate for the seriously committed artist. Prerequisite: Instructor approval/signed form. (Seniors only, with at least two previous visual art classes.)
Art as a Daily Practice (Senior Spring Seminar) will combine hands-on art projects with a number of field trips to arts organizations and artist's studios. We will be looking at ways that artists practice art every day, considering both fine and applied arts, conventional exhibition spaces and alternative spaces, and various careers. Each student will choose a focus for his or her own art making and commit to a daily practice – making something every day. This could translate into any number of mediums, working with collage, paint, sculpture photo, or something more conceptual, such as a performance art piece, creating scores for events, games, a mail art project, a sewing project or an installation. The assignments are open-ended and there will be ample independent studio time. Student work will be exhibited in Block 6. (Seniors only) (1/2 credit)
Portfolio Prep serves as a structured environment in which students compile a portfolio of 16-20 works of art, shoot slides, and write artist's statements and slide scripts to include in their college applications in the fall. The portfolio should reflect craftsmanship, creativity and content by including pieces that reflect your understanding of the elements of art and design in addition to more personal ideas and images. This time also allows for admissions representatives from art schools to speak about their individual programs, to share their knowledge about what constitutes a solid portfolio and to meet with individual students for portfolio reviews. Sustained work, deadlines and documenting work are a necessary component to the completion of the portfolio. (Meets during two specified E Periods.) Prerequisite: instructor approval. (Seniors only)
Courses Offered in Alternate Years
Art History and Contemporary Practice explores art history via practices in the present day art world, delving into a range of traditional topics as they inform contemporary artists' work. The backbone of the course will be intertwining moments from traditional art history with episodes from a documentary series called Art 21, developed by PBS, which focuses on contemporary American art and artists. The class is not intended to be an all-inclusive survey of art history, but is rather an exploration of different moments in art history and their relevance to art-making today. The class will investigate both traditional and contemporary artistic production through images, readings and field trips. The final project includes curating a show and creating a brochure. This class includes several research assignments and multiple field trips to local museums. NOTE: This is not a studio class and does not fulfill Urban’s art requirements. This class can be taken in addition to a practicum class. (Open to Juniors & Seniors)