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ART 355 A: Materials In Context For Interdisciplinary Practice

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Meeting Time: 
MW 11:30am - 2:20pm
ART 207
Timea Tihanyi
Timea Tihanyi

Syllabus Description:

Art 355: Materials in Context for Interdisciplinary Practice: SOFT SCULPTURE

MW 11:30-2:20 Room: ART207

Instructor: Timea Tihanyi Office: Art 328J      Office hours: by appointment



Go to Required Supplies

Course Description

The brief version of course description:

This is an interdisciplinary studio course, consisting of a series of studio assignments of soft sculpture, which are primarily 3D applications of soft/malleable sculptural materials, such as fibers (wool, paper, yarn, wax and plastics). Ideas taken from these 3D forms can also be further developed into installations, performances, digital or time-based media. Class time will be spent on technical demonstrations, studio work-time, project consultations, and critiques. Please expect to commit a reasonable amount of studio time/week outside of class for completing assignments. Some materials will be provided in class but certain projects require you to purchase your own materials to give you more variety of textures and colors. Expect to spend between $30-60, on these, depending on what you are planning to do.  

The long version of course description:

What is a class in Soft-Sculpture about?

This interdisciplinary studio course focuses on exploring the meanings, uses, and visual/sculptural potentials of both traditional and innovative new materials. We will be experimenting with both natural (wool, paper pulp) and man-made synthetic materials (rubbers and resins) as well as with fabrics and mixed-media for sculptural purposes.

What are the assignments? What are we going to learn?

We begin the quarter with a series of exercises that delve into the textural and formal qualities offered by fabrics. This helps us to establish a visual vocabulary and learn some techniques for constructing fabrics, such as hand-sewing, machine sewing and a few embroidery stitches. 

This will be followed by several weeks of explorations in felting (with natural wool). We will learn several techniques for felting, and design and develop a large wearable sculptural head-ornament (first main assignment).

The class then will broaden its scope to consider sculptural forms based on armatures and molds. This exploration is open to a wide-range materials based on the student's own interest, for example paper pulp, wax, synthetics.

The final assignment uses a combination of these materials and techniques and may take the form of 3D, installation or time-based media. In this assignment, students are asked to consider both the physical properties of materials as well as their interconnected meanings when presented in context: personal,social, political, scientific, sculptural, art historical, etc.


Demonstrations will cover various techniques, such as hand and machine sewing; wool felting; working with paper fibers on sculptural armatures; and mold-making and casting processes for synthetic materials. Using the laser cutter and the CMC router in connection with digital 3D design are additional possibilities to explore.

Experimentation with traditional making methods and inventive novel processes is desired, in order to understand and redefine the forms, material qualities, functions and roles these objects can take.

You will expand the scope of your skills and concepts while working on a variety of assignments. 

Consultation and demos on unfamiliar materials and techniques are always available upon your request.

Roll up your sleeve and bring your curiosity!


Course Objectives

  • Gain experience with a variety of natural and synthetic materials. Broaden your skill set with different techniques of construction.
  • Further your understanding of sculptural concepts, formal elements of 2D, 3D, 4D constructions, and their relationship in space and time.
  • Broaden your understanding of how materials function in various contexts and how these interactions between context material and meaning play a role in forming our tactile environment and contemporary visual culture.
  • Gain familiarity with major contemporary art movements and their representatives. • Develop projects for your portfolio.
  • Most importantly: Challenge yourself! Strive to fresh ideas! Be creative.



Your final grade will be determined by the following:

  • 40%: Participation and Preparedness (critiques, in-class projects, class discussions)

                Professional manner (turning in projects on time, individual effort, commitment, progress)

  • 60%: Assignments (2 smaller exercises and 2 main projects). Quality of these projects based on the following criteria:

    • thought process,
    • design,
    • craft,
    • development
    • experimentation.

Note: Assignment scoring on Canvas is a form of written feed-back on the various aspects of the project.

It is important that you consult the rubric to see which criteria (which areas) need more attention, and thus, improvement, and which are those that have been most successful. Scoring on a criterium usually has 3 tiers: Tier 1: most complete and successful in that aspect, Tier 2: together in fundamental aspects but has some other significant issues and Tier 3: missing many significant aspects. So, on a criterium that is scored for 1 point, 1 means "well solved"; 0.5 means "most significant aspects are resolved but has other important issues to still resolve"; and 0 means "need significantly more resolution, even in the fundamentals".

 Last day of meeting during FINALS WEEK (scheduled final exam): Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 2:30-4:20 pm, ART 207

Catalog Description: 
Focuses on exploring the meanings, uses, and visual/sculptural potentials of both traditional and innovative new materials, both natural and man-made.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 4, 2017 - 9:01pm