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Bard College Catalogue 2023-24
OverviewIn an era when much contemporary art cannot be contained within the traditional categories of painting and sculpture, and when technology is transforming the production of visual images, the Studio Arts Program at Bard has expanded the breadth of its offerings while retaining a strong core of courses that provide a firm grounding in basic techniques and principles. The Studio Arts Program is available to the student who wishes to major in the program and the student who wishes to experience the visual arts and apply that experience to other disciplines.
RequirementsStudents who wish to graduate with a degree in studio arts must complete the following: two art history and visual culture courses (one to be completed by the time of Moderation; it is also recommended that one be based in contemporary, post-1945 art, when offered); four studio courses from among Drawing I (required), II, III; Painting I, II, III; Printmaking I, II, III; Sculpture I, II, III; Digital I, II; Extended Media I, II; and Art 405-406, Senior Seminar.
At the end of their fourth semester, moderating students are asked to present a body of work to a group of three faculty members—determined by the program and including the student’s adviser—to assess the student’s work to date, clarify strengths and weaknesses, and discuss curricular and academic goals for the rest of the student’s Bard career. Moderated studio arts majors are eligible for the final curricular component of the Studio Arts Program, which consists of Level III studio classes in a variety of painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, extended media, digital, and printmaking options. The content of each studio class and the degree of structure are up to the individual instructor.
Recent Senior Projects in Studio Arts
- “Common Thread”
- “I Live in a Box”
- “Points of Attachment”
- “Sympathetic Resonance”
FacilitiesThe exhibition space in the Fisher Studio Arts Building permits an ambitious schedule of exhibitions, which are an integral component of the program. In addition to open student exhibitions, Senior Project shows, and Moderation exhibitions, student work on particular themes is presented at student-curated and faculty-curated shows. Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies is another on-campus site for exhibitions of contemporary art. The Bard College Exhibition Center in nearby Red Hook has approximately 16,000 square feet of gallery, studio, and class space. The Center gives seniors the opportunity to present their Senior Projects in a professional space dedicated solely to the exhibition of student work.
The descriptions below represent a sampling of courses from the past four years.
Digital I: Image Making
An introduction to both the technical and conceptual aspects of developing a creative practice within a digital context. Students learn software skills, including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign tools, and explore the creative possibilities within the digital platforms and spaces that foster contemporary communication. The course emphasizes building critical analysis and increased agency as creators within the complex networks of digital information and social media space.
An introduction to the technical, conceptual, and historical practices of painting. Students use a variety of media as they progress from observational exercises to developing personal processes, imagery, and ideas. Class sessions include technical demonstrations, illustrated lectures, and personal and group critiques.
Students work with a variety of materials and processes to investigate form, space, surface, location, and gesture. The course is structured around weekly and biweekly assignments that usually begin with an exercise (“make a sculpture that hangs in the balance”) and introduce a medium, technique, and set of ideas. Group critiques are supplemented by demonstrations in materials and techniques, and presentations of related modern and contemporary artwork.
“To learn to draw,” said Leonardo da Vinci, “is to learn to see.” The course emphasizes the study of drawing as a tool for articulating what the eyes, hand, and mind discover and investigate when coordinated. Students primarily work from life, forms from nature, and the still life in order to develop essential drawing skills. Line, shape, value, gesture, volume, weight, composition, and space form the basis for translating 3D to 2D, and each is covered through weekly assignments.
The goal of the course is to give students a solid foundation in the methods and terminology of intaglio (etching), from drypoint, etching, and aquatint, to wiping and printing. Original prints, as well as reproductions, provide a historic background to printmaking and show how artists have used these techniques throughout the centuries.
Color influences all aspects of our experience—perceptual, emotional, psychological, physiological, even spiritual. The goal is to develop a working knowledge of color as it may be applied to any visual medium. Assignments range from vigorous color studies that train the eye to forms of expression more personal in nature.
The Creative Self and the No Self of the Zen Arts
The Zen arts are also called the “artless arts.” Whereas in the contemporary Western art world the cultivation of an individual, unique self seems to be crucial, in the traditional Asian arts one trains by copying the masters and following established means of depiction. The urge for expressing oneself is discouraged as it would hinder a liberated view on how things really are. This interdisciplinary course explores the question of the creative self through hands-on exercises, text study (Buddhist psychology, Western artists influenced by Zen), and individual art projects.
YOUniverse: Sharpening the Senses for a Broader Vision
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
Enlightenment means to become one. But how can we feel whole in a broken world? How can we close the gap of separation, with ourselves, others, nature? This course explores the various facets of a Buddhist psychological model of how to purely see, hear, taste, etc., without the lens and the burden of the conditioned self. Participants investigate the power of their senses in the now through art projects inspired by local initiatives that address ecological and social inequality.
From the use of papyrus in 2700 BC up to the present, paper has been an integral component in the creation and distribution of art and information. Yet it is often overlooked as an artistic medium. This course explores the vast technical and conceptual possibilities of this ephemeral material, pushing paper “craft” into a series of thoughtful and challenging artworks in two and three dimensions. Techniques include large-scale collage and assemblage, weaving, papermaking, hand and laser papercutting, embossing, and pulp drawing and casting.
Mapping: You Are Here
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
Maps have been dynamic visual and conceptual inspiration for many artists. Students work with drawing and sculptural installation to investigate the translation of scale and data to abstraction, inherent in the art of mapping. They also study a range of contemporary artists for whom maps are central to their practice as well as historical maps from Polynesian navigation charts to the soundless silk maps of World War II. The 1,000-acre Bard campus serves as a laboratory for research and for generating visual projects.
Art and Climate Change
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
Does art have a role to play in altering the course of climate change? Through focused case studies, students learn basic sculptural techniques that use social and civic engagement as part of their structure, and digital tools in the Adobe Creative Suite for making books and graphic projects to increase visual understanding of climate change. They also take field trips with local nonprofits such as Riverkeeper to understand efforts to address the impacts of climate change on the Hudson Valley.
Extended Media I
The expansion of art’s definition means that the terms used to categorize works of art are often technically incorrect—e.g., film used to categorize films not shot on the medium of film. Through readings, critiques, and assignments the class explores artistic practices that have stretched previous categories while creating new categories. Emphasis is placed on the development of ideas and strengthening the ability to critique not only the work of art but the tools and techniques used to make it.
Digital II: Zines! Zines! Zines!
The course addresses the rich history of artist-run publications and zines as an alternative and interdisciplinary space for art, activism, experimentation, and dialogue. Through collaboration with the Hessel Museum and Stevenson Library, the class explores the history of artists’ publications through the lens of their collections. Projects include individual and collective works in the format of physical and digital zines, collective editions, and small books
This course is designed to promote a painter’s development, both conceptually and technically. Students are encouraged to cultivate their individual interests in painting through a combination of project prompts, individualized research, and studio experimentation. They investigate their relationship to scale, surface, content, narrative, and identity in developing their own studio practice and vernacular as a painter. Class sessions include technical demonstrations, illustrated lectures, and personal and group critiques.
Sculpture II: Casting
The course focuses on a variety of materials, casting methods, techniques, and concepts. Students learn to make one- and two-part urethane and silicone rubber molds and are encouraged to work from sculpted forms in addition to found objects. Also explored are various aspects of life casting using Algi-Safe as the starting material. As the semester progresses, the molds become more complex and intricate. The course includes a field trip to a fabrication workshop and an introduction to the process of bronze casting.
Drawing II: Drawing Out of Bounds
Students experiment with wide-ranging and innovative drawing techniques in this multimedia course. From building a base with familiar materials like pencil and paper, the class works outwards, creating drawing implements, utilizing found and natural materials, and devising new possibilities for drawing in three and four dimensions. Practices that incorporate performance, movement-based techniques, meditation, and collaboration are also explored, with an emphasis on drawing as both a somatic and mindful practice. Prerequisite: Drawing I.
Printmaking II: Relief
Students work with relief printmaking practices of woodcut and linocut—with the aid of digital tools. They develop and refine their drawn, cut, carved, and printed line. The course follows the tradition of Japanese mokuhanga woodblock printing, and emphasizes water-based and water-soluble inks. Participants make collagraph plates, print blocks on fabric, and develop more makeshift techniques for temporary printing stamps.
The Painterly Print
A monotype (a.k.a. the painterly print) is essentially a printed painting. Although it is technically the simplest form of printmaking, it strives to honor the individuality of the hand’s painterly impulse. For this reason, monotypes are a wonderful tool for a painter to quickly develop ideas of color, light, shape, and composition. This class explores the monotype process in relation to painting, using traditional techniques and experimental ones that evolve in response to the pursuit of the student’s individual ideas.
Paper II: Expanded Field
The course considers the ubiquitous material of paper and how it can be used to engage with the physical world both inside and out of the studio. Through a series of ambitious projects, students experiment with hand and laser cutting, papier mâché, weaving, pulp printing, casting, folding, light, and installation. The works are later situated outside the studio.
Extended Media II: Public Private Address
Students explore forms of statement making within the visual fields, with an emphasis on defining the maker’s relationship to an audience or public. Attention is placed on forms of presentation that are derived from critical issues within the current political and social climate. Projects may take many forms—clothing, banners, video projections, digital signage—and incorporate text, print, audio, and video. Group critiques help students find their voice and make forms that communicate deeply and aesthetically.
Graphic novels, large-scale sculpture, and urban painting are addressed as examples of artworks that exist as virtual presentations of potentially physical objects. Class assignments also explore projects that require no foundation in physical manifestation, such as game or social media manipulation, and concept-driven imagery based on data mining and mapping. Basic skills in video editing and website management are recommended; Photoshop skills are required.
Students focus on enhancing technical and critical skills through the development of individual themes and an independent studio practice. Studio work is complemented by discussion of pertinent topics in historical and contemporary painting.
Sculpture III: Installation
The defining characteristic of this advanced course is the freedom and space that each student is given to explore their ideas and go beyond personal limits and preconceptions. All media and methods are welcome as long as they are accompanied by a consideration of the specific spaces of Bard’s UBS Gallery. Students are treated as working artists and are expected to install three site-specific projects of their own inspiration.
Drawing III: Narrative Drawing
Students explore various ways to tell stories with drawings, looking at prior examples in the world of artist’s books, installation, comics, and instruction manuals. They create characters, adapt folklore, write gags, and draw diaries. The focus is on in-class discussion and critique with weekly out-of-class assignments and light research. Prerequisites: Art 107 and any second-level studio art class.
Printmaking III: Etching Workshop
Students refresh and hone their skills and deepen their knowledge of intaglio plate making and printing. From there, the course explores advanced techniques such as the introduction of color methods (e.g., viscosity printing, chine collé, and multiplate color printing) and printing in combination with other printing methods. The use of nontraditional materials and methods are also examined. Prerequisite: Art 109-110 or permission of the instructor.
Designed to let studio artists indulge in research of the subjects that inform their artwork. The class reads Gilles Deleuze’s seminal book The Fold and explores the practice of contemporary research to better understand how artists engage with subjects and concepts that are often outside of the recognized art world. Students research their own subjects and delve into what is deep beneath the surface of their materials and subjects, aesthetics, and referenced histories.
All studio arts majors engaged in Senior Projects meet for a weekly seminar/critique/discussion. The aim is to create a forum where students can exchange views and ideas. The seminar’s form and subject change from week to week but include writing assignments, group critiques, discussions of exhibitions on campus, and conversations with guest speakers.