Foundational Studio Projects in the Visual Arts: Material Gestures in a (Virtual) Common Space

Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Class Size: 46
50% Reserved for Freshmen
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

ceramic art, sculpture, visual studies
visual arts, painting, drawing

This two-quarter program invites students to engage in an art practice that explores what it means to be in conversation with art history and the sociopolitical world around us while drawing encouragement and influence from each other as a community of artists. In line with much contemporary art that uses multiple materials and approaches, we will incorporate studio practice (artmaking with various materials and techniques) with concept and theory (visual studies made up of art history, literature, aesthetics, visual analysis, close reading, essay writing, and research). Students will learn to think critically and creatively about the diverse skills used in artmaking.


We will be working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will cultivate studio work by helping students set up a home studio workspace with an extensive materials supply kit and we will foster a close-knit learning community with plenty of individual feedback from faculty and peer groups. Over the two quarters studio work will include workshops in three-dimensional (3D) and two-dimensional (2D) studio projects in design, drawing, painting, printmaking, woodcarving, fine metals, ceramics, and mixed- media sculpture. Collaborative assignments will be part of this common (virtual) space.


Central to this program is an understanding of the implications of image and object making in an image- abundant culture of digital and social media and how we make informed decisions about a creative practice that is socially and materially sustainable. We will also consider the politics of representation, identity, and community. Some of our program work will be in conversation with present visual art and visual culture responses to the pandemic such as thinking in an emergency, visual activism, isolation and mutual aid, the new social environment, and art in the age of the internet. We will study a range of artists, critics, writers, and art historians, in particular, John Berger (Ways of Seeing), Nicholas Mirzoeff (How to See the World), David Joselit (American Art Since 1945), Catherine Belsey (Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction) along with readings by Twyla Tharp, RAQ’s Media Collective, Paul Wood, bell hooks, Anni Albers, Thomas McEvilley, Linda Nochlin and Elaine Scarry whose ideas on habit, deliberation and art’s ability to slow things down will support our perceptual acuity and anchor our thinking.

We are in a unique time that forces us to set up a home studio practice with faculty providing curricular structures and the engagement of an art community to share support and inspiration and connect to critical issues. For their final project at the end of winter quarter, students will begin to imagine how to situate their own projects in terms of the world around them. Students who fully engage in this program can expect to be prepared for more advanced studies in interdisciplinary visual arts.


Foundational Studio Projects is designed for first-year and sophomore students who are interested in pursuing visual arts, as well as those who are curious about visual studies and have no prior art experience. Students should be prepared to dedicate at least 40 hours per week to college-level studio work with critique and reading, writing, and seminar on topics related to the concepts of 20th- and 21st- century art history and critical theory. We will attend the Art Lecture Series, which brings artists from around the country to talk about the creative process. In order to successfully participate in this remote- learning course, students will need access to high-speed internet, a computer, camera (for shooting pictures of their artwork), and a small home workspace for visual art projects. Students can expect our remote teaching to be a 60% / 40% blend of asynchronous (self-paced online/videos/readings) and synchronous (scheduled live participation) work, using Canvas and Video Conferencing (Zoom). Students will have access to alternatives to synchronous participation if conditions require. 

Greener Foundations:  This program will incorporate Greener Foundations, a holistic course designed for first-time, first-year students. Faculty and staff collaborate to bring study skills, academic planning, health and wellness education, advising, and more into the classroom. More information can be found on the college website at  Greener Foundations  .

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

Visual and media arts, visual studies, art history, humanities, education


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Fall Complete Online Learning - This offering delivers all of its instruction online.
  • Winter: Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$150 in fall for studio supplies and $150 in winter for studio supplies

Class Standing: Freshman–Sophomore
Class Size: 46
50% Reserved for Freshmen

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 - 9:00 am
SEM 2 A2107 - Seminar

Located in: Olympia

2020-08-05This program is now fully remote for fall quarter