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Foundation Courses

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DR 234 Contemporary Drawing Practices

With the advent of postmodernism, artistic practices have splintered into an ever-widening variety of possibilities that has redefined the role of drawing in the contemporary art world. Beginning with the New York School and subsequently considering Pop, Minimalism, Conceptualism, Process Art, Graffiti, Performance, and Installation, drawing has persevered as a necessary artistic practice and has, through the variety of difference inherent in postmodern aesthetics, developed into a vital, autonomous art form in itself. Elective: 3 credits / semester; 6 hours/week. Prerequisite: DR 100 + one other drawing course.

FN 251 (3D) Moldmaking–Form /Transformation

This course explores various physical and analytical references incorporated by the use of multiples, transformation, and media. The opportunity exists to convey intent through elements of sequence, alteration, modification, anomalies, mutations, conversions, and deviations. Students also investigate the potential for material and content to act as metaphor. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours / week. Prerequisite: FN 115. (Sophomore Fabrication course)

FYL 100-1 FY-In: The Power of Adornment

In this section of FY-In we will explore the nature of adornment. Adornment has been used to lure and seduce, as a branding tool to distinguish group identities, and as a means to display wealth and power. We will research various historical and contemporary cultures, including our own, and learn how adornment has been used throughout time. Construction methods will focus on alternative and/or recycled materials, and on various means of making cold connections. Through research, material exploration and brainstorming students will design and produce individual and collaborative projects that explore aspects of adornment in relationship to contemporary culture.

SYL 200-5 2nd Yr. Lab: (PE) “Gathering Influences: Collecting, Collections, Collectors, Collectibles”

“A Collection is a charm against chaos, the ordered bit, the finger in the dike…” Marilynn Gelfman Karp  

Students will explore the human instinct to collect with specific attention to the impact of what artists collect on what they make and of what they make on what they collect. Students will share and explore past and/or current collections; develop new collections to generate sources for their work; and begin or continue to collect the work of their peers through barter.  Field trips to private and institutional collections will augment class discussions about individual and cultural notions about collecting.  Demonstrations will include two and three-dimensional media particularly well suited for creating multiples that facilitate collection by others.  A range of printmaking media such as collagraph, which allows artists to collage and print from found materials and textures, will be explored and students will create an exchange portfolio around a theme collaboratively determined. The course will integrate a public engagement component through which students will visit a retirement community on Peaks Island that benefits from a collection of art by local artists that festoons its walls, and subsequently develop an exhibition of artwork for a retirement residence in Portland with distinctly bare walls.  In addition, students will prepare and execute digital presentations about their artwork in regard to collecting for the residents of one of the aforementioned retirement communities.

DR 100 Introduction to Drawing

This course introduces drawing from perception, including techniques for measurement, contour, massing, volume, and rendering illumination through tone.   Compositional skills such as placement and figure/ground interaction are stressed.  Drawing materials include pencil, charcoal, and; subject matter includes still life, interior, landscape, and the figure. Required: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. No prerequisite.


DR 227 Anatomical Drawing

This class is an in-depth study of the internal structure of the human figure as it affects the external form, allowing students to develop a working vocabulary of surface muscle groups and skeletal landmarks as they apply to drawing the figure. Students complete weekly research projects designed to compliment classroom topics.   Class time is used primarily for study from the live model and critique.  Application of knowledge is gained throughout the course to individual aesthetic and conceptual concerns are encouraged.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. Prerequisite: DR100 and any second-level drawing course (DR120 - 140).


DR 233 Surrealism, Chance & Accident

This course is designed to merge your own skills and interests with the ideas of anti-logic, revolution, and artistic freedom introduced by the Dadaists and Surrealists at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.  There will be a particular emphasis placed on language and drawing games such as Exquisite Corpse, Frottage, Automatism, and Decalcomania.  The course will also examine Surrealism and Dada's historical precedents and antecedents such as the art of the insane, Sigmund Freud's study of the unconscious, doodling and other incidental drawing, Process Art, the work of John Cage, and Fluxus. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. Prerequisites: DR100 and any second-level drawing course (DR120 - 140).

DR 400 Advanced Drawing

This course concentrates on creating a structured environment in which students can begin to build independent working processes and linear bodies of work.  It is designed to complement the experience in the major studio, despite the student's chosen area of concentration.  Emphasis is placed on developing content driven work and research skills, while continuing to focus on the formal aspects of a drawing experience.  Class structure will include regular lectures and critiques.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week.  Pre-requisites: DR 100, and any three drawing electives.  Students must be in their major.

FN 101 Foundations of Digital Imaging

Required: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. No prerequisite.

Students can choose from the following:

FN 101-B Digital Imaging: Basics

This course is designed for students with little or no experience in working with digital images. Assignments will cover the basics of creating and editing digital images in Adobe Photoshop.

FN 101-DPT Digital Imaging: Drawing & Painting

This course is designed for students who have experience creating digital images. Course projects will explore drawing and painting fundamentals with Adobe Photoshop. A pen tablet is required for this course.

FN 101-PH Digital Imaging: Photography

This course is designed for students who have experience creating digital images. Students will explore the fundamentals of Digital Photography. A digital camera is required for this course.

FN 101-3D Digital Imaging: 3D

This course is designed for students who have experience creating digital images. Students will explore the fundamentals of 3D modeling in MAYA and/or Sketch Up.

FN 102 Introduction to Digital Video

FN 102 Introduction to Video: contributes to contemporary art through experimentation, performance, conceptual development, technological innovations, and the mixing of media. This course is an exploration of time-based art utilizing video, and will cover the basic skills and software knowledge of video production and post-production. Through demonstrations, in-class exercises, lectures, readings, discussions, case studies, individual projects and group critiques, we will investigate the formal and conceptual aspects of video art. We will look at many examples to study editing, camera work, narrative and non-narrative content development. Students will complete several projects utilizing video cameras and editing software. Elective: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. No prerequisite.

FN 113 Two-Dimensional Design

Design is the process of arranging parts to produce a whole.  Two Dimensional Design is the organization of form and color in a flat surface or a two-dimensional space (composition) to produce meaning and expression.  2D Design students concentrate on the isolation and manipulation of individual characteristics of form and color (line, point, shape, texture, tone; value, hue and intensity) with intention and precision as a basis for building mastery of composition as a whole.  2D Design works in conjunction with all foundation studio requirements; and in conjunction with Art History, Liberal Arts courses and The First Year Initiative to provide a foundation for all further study in Art and Design. Required: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. No prerequisite.


FN 115 Three-Dimensional Design

Design is the arrangement of parts to produce a unit.  This course is a comprehensive investigation of three-dimensional phenomena and cultivates a student’s ability to visualize, design and build in three dimensions. Issues of understanding and envisioning space, objects, scale, and the relationship of the body to the built environment are subjects of the course. Students will acquire an applied understanding of the principles and elements of Three-Dimensional Design and a basic skill set of fabrication techniques.  This will be achieved through projects and exercises that emphasize the connectedness in material, form, content (formal and conceptual) and process.  The course will work in conjunction with all foundation studio requirements as well as work to compliment material covered in Liberal Arts courses, Art History, and First Year Seminar.  Required: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. No prerequisite.


FN 250 3D Fabrication

This course will take a broad materials approach to the development of content; both personal and external.  Through a mix of material investigations in drawing, model making and digital imagery, ideas will be generated and realized through material and structure.  Materials will include, but not limited to: concrete, glass, Plexiglas, fabric, resin, wood, aluminum, brass, and steel.  The work will be driven by personal investigations into the combinations of the sculptural object, installation, performance and/or digital projection.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week.  Prerequisite: FN 115. (Sophomore Fabrication course)

FYL 100 (PE) FY-IN

This seminar involves studio work, academic research, and involvement with a community partner. Its intent is to fully immerse you in art and design, to involve you in the MECA and Portland communities, and to place your creative efforts into a real-world context. FY-In teaches the critical importance of combining research and practice, and serves as an introduction to collaborating with one another and with a community partner. Students read, write, research, make art, discuss and critique while working on specific projects in their section. The course is required of all First Year students: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week.

FYL 100-3 (PE) FY-In: Portland Walking Library

In this section of FY–In, students will explore the Portland cityscape through the area's trail systems. Working with partner Portland Trails, we will embark on several walks and document our experiences through the art of DIY publications. Students will produce a set of zines which will culminate in a public exhibition at the end of the semester. Assignments will require both work in the field and within a studio environment. Throughout the semester, we will discuss writers and artists who have embraced walking as a catalyst for creativity. Furthermore, students will learn how self-publishing can be used as a vital tool to circulate their work and ideas. The class will introduce students to the fundamentals of design and production including print publishing software. Students do not need to have any specialized knowledge, but will be encouraged to bring their individual skills and interests to their work.

FYL 100-4 (PE) FY-IN: Creating a Critical Youth

In this section students will engage in critical conversations about exhibitions at SPACE Gallery, fostering the opportunity for exchange between the students and the organization. This collaboration manifests in the students designing and implementing youth programming workshops. The students will also attend a range of events at SPACE Gallery and review them with both text and images. Bookmaking, printmaking and digital photography will be the primary processes used on a variety of projects.  SPACE Gallery:  Exhibitions: Beautiful Possibility // Alison Pebworth // Sept-Oct When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer // group show curated by Liz Sheehan // Oct-DecCreating a Critical Youth.

FYL 100-5 (PE) FY-IN Interventions: Altering our surroundings through art/action.

How do we and the things that we create interact with the broader world? How can we gain a better understanding of place through these interactions? This section of FY-in will be an investigation of interventions into everything from small ready made objects to the city of Portland. We will explore the variety of ways in which we can make changes, big and small, that affect a per-existing space, object, place, or even time. Students will undertake both individual and group based projects intended to expand their understanding of place through alterations and modifications. The art of the “intervention” can take many forms, from Street Art, to private studio practice. We will study these various approaches and, through a process of research and development, undertake our own series of carefully planned and considered interventions. Students will  begin to develop a knowledge base of contemporary artists and issues to be addressed.

FYL 100-6 (PE) FY-IN Active Objects: Impacting Art & Design

How, as makers, can we create objects that are both beautiful and useful? How can our creative practice address social needs? In this section of FY-In students will focus on the artist as designer and maker of objects that both stimulate and impact, are inspiring and useful. Using multiple media and materials students will work both independently and collaboratively on design challenges. Grounded in both field based research and weekly studio making time we will learn about our own inspirations for making and uncover local community issues that we can creatively address. Through selected readings, journal writing, discussion and a public engagement project students will research, design and create impactful art.

FYL 100-7 (PE) FY-In: Finding Home: A Philosophical Analysis of our Relationship to the Natural World

Back in the late 1980s Lester Milbraith, an environmental sociologist at the State University of New York at Buffalo, first argued that history reveals three primary ways human cultures have viewed Nature: as a “system” of resources that support human life, somewhat like a spaceship; as a “living being” that exists primarily for its own purposes, which are sometimes threatened by the selfish actions of humans; and as a “home” in which all species and systems work together, consciously or not, to co-create a mutually beneficial ecosystem. In the first view, humans hold the place of primary importance and concern; in the second view, Nature is of primary importance and human survival, if it threatens the natural world, is not even a goal; and in the third view, both Nature and human existence are concerns of equal weight and harmony between them is possible. Out of these three views of nature come very different concepts of "home” and the relationship between human existence and the natural world. Is the natural world our home or is it a wild and chaotic system from which we must protect ourselves? Are we parasites threatening the world’s legitimate right to exist or is the world here only for our benefit? Can we live in harmony with nature or is this relationship naturally antagonistic? Is the world a living being possessed of consciousness (like Eywa in the popular movie Avatar) or is it only a disposable bank of resources? How does the practice of art-making change as our concepts of Nature and home change? These and other questions will be discussed in detail. Based on our readings, discussions and practical adventures working in the vegetable gardens of Cultivating Community, we’ll explore how world views, including our views on Nature, influence our ethics and actions, and help either generate or disturb our chances for sustainable living.


SYL 200 – 2nd YR. LAB

Second Year Lab is designed to immerse students in a sustained project in order to combine and advance objectives from their foundation year, develop the ability to take an idea from inception to completion, and introduce professional skills necessary to be an artist at work. Students will research, write, make, revise, remake, and present their work in a professional context. Within this interdisciplinary class, required of all second-year students, structured parameters create an environment in which students have the opportunity to work both individually and collaboratively while developing the skills to self-direct.  Elective: 3 credits/semester; 6 hours/week. Prerequisite: Foundation courses completed.

SYL 200-1 2nd Yr. Lab: Micropublishing

This project based studio course will explore the potentials of designing, producing, printing, and distributing online self-published books. Vendors like Blurb, Lulu, Createspace, Cafepress, and other print-on-demand (POD) services are emerging opportunities for showing, publishing, and selling artists books and serial art. Photography, illustration, typography, computer skills, content development, and curiosity will culminate in at least two self-published books. In the first half of the semester we will examine the qualities and power of sequence, editing, scale, structure, and pacing to influence and drive a book narrative. We will examine the design of magazines, newspapers, zines, and other serial forms of publication and distribution and connect form to message, audience, production, and message. This course will put to task examinations from first-year foundation and will integrate visual logic with ideas. Visual skills will be practiced to compose, communicate, inspire, and inform. The second half will be a larger-scale publishing challenge featuring collaborative efforts of of which class participants will identify, research, and pull together a publishing project(s) that may culminate for sale at the MECA Holiday Sale and other POD venues. This is the hands-on working world of artists and designers within the online publishing arena.

SYL 200-2 2nd Yr. Lab: Purview

1-the range or limit of authority, competence, responsibility, concern, or intention

2-range of vision, understanding, or cognizance  

This course is designed to teach, encourage and foster personal research, engagement and insight into each student’s individual artistic interest and reveal both conceptual and aesthetic value systems at that given moment in their education. During the first half of the term students will be encouraged to examine what is important to them as individuals, as artist and as citizens of a global creative culture. Students will then fabricate these characteristics into art objects, images and events. During the second half of the term students will continue to produce studio-based artwork but also begin to situate their work in the public by organizing an exhibition and or event. Situating the studio work into a physical space will provide students with an experience that requires the development of professional tools such as developing an artist statement, press materials, curatorial vision, and the like. The actual planning and physical development of the show will provide students with a hands on experience outside of the studio, specifically display, documentation, blogs, etcetera. All enrolled students will be an artist working. This course will be pedestrian in pace and require students to be thoughtful and reflective, vulnerable and revolutionary, self-critical and culturally critical as well as extremely self-motivated.

SYL 200-3 2nd Yr. Lab: Cup of Tea

Tea, and by extension the teacup, figures prominently in both eastern and western cultures.  When we think of the Japanese tea ceremony or the British tea hour, we think of a ritualized time and event, whereby tea becomes the means to socialize and to celebrate one’s culture.  When not a communal event, the drinking of tea is often an invitation to take a few moments out of the day and to relax and become aware of the moment. Tea has also served as a metaphor for ritual as well as revolution.  It takes fifteen years to become a Japanese Tea Master. It took only a few hours for American patriots to dump enough tea to be credited with starting a revolution.  Additionally, “my cup of tea” is often used figuratively to refer to an activity that one truly enjoys. This course will begin by focusing on the teacup. Students will begin by learning how to make good ceramic cups. Students will also be given the opportunity to read about and discuss the costs and consequences of agricultural, trading and labor practices, associated with tea.  There will also be a shared community event revolving around the cup.  And for the final project, students will choose a domestic object to focus on, to make, and to research what it tells us about our world.

SYL 200-6 2nd Yr. Lab: Nature Lab

Nature as a source offers the artist opportunities for endless interpretations. On the one hand we have an everyday emotional relationship with the out-of-doors and on the other hand, it is something alien, mystical and unknowable.  This studio/research lab will focus on the natural world and how it has been explored in the visual arts.  Students will design individual and collaborative projects based on several historic and contemporary landscape topics such as re-imagining the traditional landscape, how disaster affects the land, landscape as pattern and decoration, landscape as science, and the romance of the environment. These themes are relevant to contemporary society as well as our public and private relationships to the world.  We will visit the Green Museum, an online museum that focuses on the environment, look at a variety of gallery and museum exhibitions that highlight the landscape as subject, take a field trip to the Boothbay Botanical Garden and spend time researching the ways in which nature is mediated in the visual arts. Assignments, collaborations, and self-directed projects will reinforce skills from Foundation while building your conceptual development and creative problem solving skills.

SYL 200-7 2nd Yr. Lab: The Documentary Image

The world is an illusion.  Remember, unless you figure out how to bring a camera with you, you cannot photograph your dreams while you sleep.  This course embraces the truth and, through the use of images, presents a glimpse of the real in reality. Documenting is a way of experiencing and understanding the world.  As documentary image-makers we will consider how images function within the fields of anthropology, archeology, sociology, psychology, physics, the sciences, and literature. This course will thoroughly examine the history of documentation; including a wide range of approaches ranging from common fliers for missing pets to the groundbreaking work of James Agee and Walker Evans in their 1941 book, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men."  From this knowledge we will develop and create our own philosophy of documentation as artists. Multiple modes of documentation will be explored in the interest of developing a personal approach. Collaborative and individual projects will explore installation, site visits, map use, interactive experiences, web environments, books and writing.  Our work will culminate in a final exhibition.