The IA (School for Interdisciplinary Arts) branch of the cross School Studio Art Program offers courses in sculpture, drawing, art and technology, sequential media, character development, and digital media. The IA studio art curriculum is based on the integration of production, scholarly research in art history and theory, and critique. A practice-centered approach to learning allows students to use form and image making as a means of finding and exploring their own artistic intentions. As part of the divisional exam system, studio art concentrators meet frequently in their own studios with faculty committee members to discuss ideas, respond to work in progress, and plan for the final exhibition.
IA studio art students are encouraged to question media boundaries, explore hybrid practices, and create new methods and composite materials in the classroom and the studio. Studio art concentrators often link their studies in visual art with other fields including art history, art theory, art education, animation, game design, film/photo/video, social justice, neuroscience, creative writing, theater, music, architecture, and design. As traditional media boundaries dissolve and new forms are created, interdisciplinary work prepares students for a constantly evolving art world.
Well-equipped sculpture studio facilities support work in traditional media including clay, wood, plaster, and concrete, as well as with more ephemeral materials. In close collaboration with the Design and Innovation for Social Change Program, students can access extensive metal and plastic working facilities as well as computer-aided milling equipment and a 3-d printer. A substantial visiting artist endowment allows studio art faculty in both IA and HACU to bring internationally known artists to the sculpture program to give public lectures and to critique student work. Another larger endowed fund for Division III students, the Harris Veit Artist’s Grant, supports production and other costs associated with a public exhibition that serves as the culmination of Division III work in studio art.
Introductory sculpture courses introduce students to core historical and theoretical issues within the context of a range of materials and methods. Relationships between objects, installations, site-specific sculpture, and public art are addressed within the curriculum. Intermediate sculpture courses address areas of greater specificity such as the body, mold making, digital sculpture, art and technology, and sculpture and furniture. Advanced level sculpture courses support the transition to independent work within the year-long Division III thesis project. All courses in the sculpture program incorporate extensive independent projects with the aim of fostering an ambitious and informed studio practice. Field trips to area art museums, collections, and sculpture parks provide a context for work in this challenging medium.
Perceptual and conceptual working methods are integrated within drawing courses at all levels. A broad definition of drawing is encouraged through the integration of sequential imagery, character development, drawing in three dimensions, digital drawing and digital printing. Courses in sequential art and character development allow students to work across two, three, and four dimensions. Students also combine drawing with text, kinetic elements, and other visual devices in response to an expanded definition of the book. Introductory drawing courses introduce representational and abstract drawing methods, strategies and sources. Intermediate courses incorporate longer projects with more complex conceptual, historical and pictorial parameters. Three hundred level drawing courses further promote the development of independent work leading towards the Division III project. Field trips to area drawing collections, including the Cunningham Center at Smith College, allow students to respond to the history of work in this medium. All courses in drawing incorporate extensive independent projects.
Courses in art and technology combine theory and practice in response to historical and contemporary issues in the visual arts. Courses focus on the history of technology, critical practice, interactive art, art, nature and technology, and video art. This curriculum leads to interdisciplinary projects that link studio art with disparate fields across the arts, humanities, and sciences. Courses and divisional exams strive to frame the use of advanced electronic and computer technology in the service of conceptual and formal concerns: tools in the service of ideas. In addition, students in courses at the introductory and upper levels explore the nature of advanced technologies as social constructs, while simultaneously learning how to use them, so that they may be better equipped to produce socially and culturally relevant work. In every level of the curriculum, the teaching of art and technology is guided by writer Rebecca Solnit’s broad definition that “a technology is a practice, a technique, or a device for altering the world or the experience of the world.” In this way it is seen that art and technology always have been, and continue to be, deeply embedded in each other.
These images are from Division III student exhibitions in Hampshire’s Johnson Library Gallery.