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Syllabus: ARTS 270 ~ Introduction to Sculpture fall 2014

August 19, 2014



ARTS 270-01 Introduction to Sculpture                              fall 2014                                                                 Syllabus

Department of Art and Art History

College of the Humanities and Fine Arts

CSU Chico


INSTRUCTOR: Sheri Simons

OFFICE: Ayres 114   OFFICE HOURS: Wednesday 9-11am and Thursday 2-5pm

PHONE/EMAIL: 898-4996 / / website:

CLASS TIME / LOCATION: Tuesday and Thursday 11 am – 1:50 pm / Ayres 122

FINAL: Thursday December 18 11am – 1:50 pm

CLASS BLOG (assignments, readings, announcements, etc.):


Catalogue description: Introduction to Sculpture is a beginning course designed to develop skills in building

three-dimensional form by learning to work with a variety of tools and techniques. Materials may include clay, plaster, wood, cardboard, metal, and found objects. Assignments are designed to guide students in their development of concept, content, and personal expression within the context of historical and contemporary concerns in sculpture.



Ideally, Studio Art majors need to have taken (or be currently enrolled in) ARTS 123: 3-D Design. If you are not a Studio Art Major AND have not taken 3-D Design, please talk to me after this class. You may still be able to remain enrolled in this course.



You will be feeding off of a steady diet of skills, challenges and milestones designed to introduce you to basic sculptural tools, methods and materials. The skills (hands-on and brain-on) introduced will enable you to explore many paths into the nature of sculpture, thereby bringing form to your ideas (and vice versa: using ideas to shape materials). Readings, lectures and assigned problems will address historical and contemporary issues in sculpture. The teaching methods will include lectures, demonstrations, hands-on practice, lab time inside and outside of our scheduled class period, as well as discussions and critiques of student work.


There will be six major studio assignments (your sketchbook counts as ONE) using a variety of materials that may include wood, steel, plaster and found materials.



  1. DEVELOPING A STUDIO PRACTICE. Students will learn skills in handling materials and construction processes through experimentation and practice with a range of methods and materials. Our goal is to align your ideas with their execution, and to assist you in finding a personal visual language that expresses the interdependency of methods and materials. Through instruction, demonstration and practice, students will gain confidence with power and hand tools in the shop.
  2. EXPOSURE TO THEORY. Learning about the theories of art provides a framework that guides us in sorting out the many ways to understand a piece, an artist’s motivations, or a moment in time. My lectures and demonstrations touch on theory that demonstrates structured and intuitive methods of sculpture construction. Students will experiment with these concepts through assigned problems tailored to guide them through an appreciation for the depth and breadth of the discipline of sculpture.
  3. CARRYING OUT A CONCEPT. Through assigned studio problems, students will gain skills in heightening their awareness about making art, articulating personal perception, thinking visually, using drawing and prototyping to visualize solutions and break out of the “easy” see. Through exposure to, and research on contemporary artists, and through insight into their own work, students will develop a personal dialect with sculpture as a language of physical form.


ATTENDANCE: If you are experiencing pain or some other discomfort, please discuss this with me. Don’t disappear! People (me! I!) need to be aware of your state of well-being. Part of being present is being HERE. If you need to use your computer for research during class, please do so. However, backsliding into checking emails, Facebook, eBay, etc. during class will result in dismissal from the studio and absence for the day.


REQUIREMENTS: Your personal sense of success in this class will be commensurate with your willingness to spend time in the shop learning tools and techniques as well as scheduling outside time for studio work, research such as reading books, attending gallery/museum shows, films, and patiently practicing idea generation. This is a packed schedule. Missing even one lecture or a studio day can imperil your final grade and understanding of an entire assignment. Please schedule your time accordingly.



-Be prompt in arriving to class; stay for the entirety; don’t leave early. Three absences without the proper university-approved excuse will lower the final grade by one point. Three late arrivals to class or early departures are equivalent to one absence. Missing more than 20% of class time including excused absences may result in failing in which case the student should consider dropping the course.

-Understand that demonstrations will not be repeated and late work will not be accepted.

-Be present and prepared to participate in all critiques and discussions. Preparedness includes proper dress for the shop: no hanging scarves or ties, no loose fitting clothing, no open toed shoes in woodshop or metal shop, long hair tied back, no jewelry on hands and wrist

-Maintain an active drawing sketchbook, including research on assigned artists.

-Work an average of 6 hours per week beyond class studio hours.

-Keep studio areas clean and safe. Clean up after yourself before leaving an area.

-Attend 5 extra-curricular art/cultural events on and off campus. Keep a record of these in sketchbook.

-Live without your cell phone (includes texting) throughout the entire class time. Cellphones cannot be brought into classroom. (If you have special needs, see me.) You can do it.


S U P E R   I M P O R T A N T. You’ll see this word 17 times in this syllabus!

Your sketchbook (dedicated solely to this course) will reflect the depth and dynamism of your thought processes. This will be central to group and one-on-one discussions. We will not spend time discussing your ideas if they aren’t developed first in your sketchbook. All projects require sketchbook work: drawings, writing and reading research. Many artists such as Frida Kahlo, Marcel Duchamp, Leonardo Da Vinci, Robert Smithson, Bill Viola, and Kiki Smith produced amazing sketchbooks. Look at them. Numerous writing and drawing assignments will be made for the sketchbook. This book will be significant in the calculation of your final grade. It is worth the equivalent of one assignment. You will turn it in for grading at the midterm for a progress review and the week before our final for a grade.



EACH ASSIGNMENT is graded according to these standards:

90 -100 = A = Superior. Student thought through the assignment and ran with it. Very focused, took the assignment to a deeper level conceptually and technically. Spent a minimum of 6 hrs/wk. outside of class in order to practice skills. Demonstrated exceptional growth in studio practice. Completed all preparatory research in sketchbook and prototypes with gusto.

80-89 = B = Good. Met the objectives of the assignment through a good understanding of concepts. Critical thinking is evident in all steps along the way towards the solution. Worked through errors or weaknesses; concepts practiced resulting in evidence of skill ability appropriate to this course level. Completed preparatory research in sketchbook, skills and prototypes.

70 – 79 = C = Satisfactory. Understood the assignment and met minimum requirements. Sketchbook and prototypes demonstrate basic thinking but not beyond.

50 = D = Fair. Concepts not clearly understood. Not demonstrating application of the principles through significant problem solving. Sketchbook and prototypes ignored.

25 = F = Poor. Needs substantial attention to and practice of skills and concepts. Requires review of basic concepts and principles. Little or no involvement in the heavy lifting necessary to achieve success.

0 = No credit. See me for a long discussion, topic TBA!

PREPAREDNESS 20 pts. per assignment

Successful outcomes come about through idea sessions with your sketchbook, research, and prototyping. You’ll receive up to 20 points towards your piece’s grade for completion of ‘preparedness’ (i.e., sketchbook drawing homework, outside hours spent collecting materials or making 3-d sketches). These are necessary steps you’ll need to take towards making your solutions excellent. You make these happen! “Chance favors the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur


A group critique is an important step towards improving your work. It allows you to put your visual observation skills into words and discuss ideas with others. Your involvement is key and is demonstrated through contribution to discussions as well as attention to the input of others as they discuss your work. There will be two group critiques.


Points are given for overall progress in many areas from the beginning of the semester to the end. Among these are improvements in your application of reading and research to project outcomes, studio etiquette including maintaining safe and caring use of tools and facility, and being a peer to your peers. Learning how to operate tools safely comes with practice, as does an improved ability to use them in the realization of your work. Improvement in your skills in the shop is an important sign of progress in this course.

Your FINAL GRADE in the course is a reflection of the following:

A = Outstanding. Expansive investigation of ideas, excellent craftsmanship and composition. All assignments completed on time. Insightful contributions to critiques. Goes substantially beyond minimum requirements. Outstanding growth throughout the semester.

B = Above average. Substantial investigation of concepts and compositions; very good craftsmanship. All assignments completed on time, insightful contributions to critiques. Substantial growth throughout the semester.

C = Average. All assignments done competently and completed on time. Participation in critiques when prompted but not self-motivated to contribute. Some growth seen sporadically throughout the semester.

D= Marginal work. Projects were turned in incomplete, limited investigation of ideas, poor craft or incoherent compositions, or excessive absences. Limited contribution to critiques. Minimal growth throughout the semester.

F = Unsatisfactory work. Course failure due to minimal idea development, poor craft, disjointed compositions, lack of participation, late assignments, or excessive absences.

MATERIALS AND FEES: Plan to spend approximately $100 for your materials. You’ve already paid a $26 course fee that we use towards consumable items you’ll be using.


#1!!!!: Open up our class site on WordPress : ARTS 270; open folders for syllabus (print!)

Purchase or scrounge / bring to every class:

work clothes, including CLOSED TOE SHOES…. every class time

Ellis:       9” x 12” Drawing sketchbook “Canson” 60 sheets pad w/ top spiral (specifically for this class)

#2 pencils

Collier: (FYI: good hardware store at the corner of First St. and Broadway)

Harbor Freight or Collier or Home Depot or Lowe’s or Dollar Store:


combination or key lock…. cheapy

retractable utility knife with a pack of extra blades

heavy-duty scissors

¾” masking tape

2” x 10yds. Duct tape (gray)

large cellulose sponge: approximately 5” x 7” x 1”

The materials listed below are a partial list of what might be needed as the semester progresses. Don’t purchase these at this time. This is just a heads-up:

6” Needle-nosed pliers with cutter at the hinge:

$8.98 at Lowe’s; $2.99 Harbor Freight; $10.99 at Collier

1 tube of DAP 100% silicone (white or clear)

Airgas 709 Orange St. Between 7th and 8th St.

Leather gloves — go to Tell them you’re a student in the Art Dept. and they’ll sell you a $12 pair of  gloves for only $6.79 !

Restaurant/recycling bin…. Scrounge!

                  5-gallon plastic bucket with and handle and smooth inside bottom

plastic “chore boy” scrubby (can also find these at the DOLLAR STORE)

Optional: bring or buy some of your own tools, i.e., tape measures, even drills, screwdrivers, etc. = no waiting! PUT YOUR NAME ON ALL OF YOUR SUPPLIES. KEEP THE GOOD STUFF IN YOUR HALLWAY LOCKER.


Here are the qualities that we want to foster in your life as a student of the arts….

Tenacity and Quality [practice/discipline]

-Through trial and error, several attempts are made at working the problem’s methods, materials and ideas into a well-crafted form.

-The principles and techniques assigned are practiced, analyzed, and understood.

-Student doesn’t settle for half-baked results. Starting over is not seen as failure!

-Requirements of the assignment are met and, ideally, surpassed.

-Drawing journal reflects an active and open mind.


Courage [nerve!]

-Student demonstrates a sense of adventure, risk, curiosity and bravery in exploring solutions and materials.

-Student goes outside of their comfort zone in an effort to learn new ways of understanding.

-Student listens to peer and instructor feedback about their work; makes use of suggestions and observations made in critiques and class discussions.


Personalization [concept] –

-As a result of the above practices, student develops a personal sensibility and raises their level of confidence in their methods of thinking.

-There is intellectual and intuitive rhyme and reason behind their decisions.

-It is clear that the student pursues nourishment by looking at other artists in tandem with learning to develop a voice of their own. Student is exploring contemporary currents in order to understand their own context. Note: personal sensibility is different than “talent” or even “style”. It is more important that you explore many paths than protect a safe haven.



>Student Computing:
>Student Services:
>Accessiblility Resource Center, ARC<;
>Student Learning Center:
>Academic integrity:
>Dropping and Adding:

“Americans with Disabilities Act:

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability or chronic illness,  or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours.  Please also contact ARC as they are the designated department responsible for approving and coordinating reasonable accommodations and services for students with disabilities. ARC will help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide you further assistance with requesting and arranging accommodations.”

Special accommodations for exams require ample notice to the testing office and must be submitted to the instructor well in advance of the exam date.



I reserve the right to change sections of this syllabus throughout the semester.



From → Syllabus

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