2016 Master of Design installations at Henry Art Gallery

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ART 260 A: Introduction to Contemporary Art for Inderdisciplinary Practice

Meeting Time: 
MW 11:30am - 2:20pm
ART 110
Timea Tihanyi
Timea Tihanyi

Syllabus Description:



AUTUMN 2018 Mondays and Wednesdays 11:30am-2:20pm

Instructor: Timea Tihanyi timea@uw.edu

Office hours: before class and after 5:30pm on MW. Please email ahead of time to set up appointment.

Classroom: ART 110



Why We Make?

Introduction To Contemporary Art For Interdisciplinary Practice

Go to Schedule

Go to Unit #1 Sewing resources

Go to Unit #2 Your Access to Digital Design (CAD) Programs

Go to Unit #3 Making and Unmaking

What is this course about?

This hands-on studio art course explores various interdisciplinary forms of creative practices through 2 making projects, lively class discussions, and various field-trips during which we encounter a variety of museums, MakerSpaces, alternative art spaces, artworks, and their creators: artists, designers, cultural entrepreneurs, and other creative professionals.

By retracing the story of 3 historic milestones in the contemporary art—a revolutionary art school in the early part of the 20th century, a significant 1960-70’s social movement, and the contemporary emerging techno DIY/hacker culture—we will explore the web of connections between idea, technology, craft, design, collaboration, and will put the interdisciplinary maker-culture in the larger cultural and socio-economical context of our world.


What questions are we going to ask?

What do artist, designers, innovators make today? What ideas inspire them and what kind of ethical guidelines drive them forward?

What does interdisciplinary thinking and making mean in the real world and how can we practice it?

Is making by hand still relevant in the contemporary world?

What do digital/technological innovators think about materiality, the value and use of the arts, craft, and traditional methods of making?

How can forms of making become a political statement? And how DYI (Do-It-Yourself) making—by hand or by technological means—may promote change in the world?


Who is this class for?

  • Interdisciplinary Visual Arts majors,
  • all art and design majors,
  • any student interested in art, design, architecture, the humanities, as well as in engineering, HCDE, computer science will benefit greatly from this course.

No artistic experience is required but course is highly participatory and will include two making projects and one collaborative project, as well as one research assignment with classroom presentation.

You will learn all the skills needed for the projects and will have ample time to develop your projects in class with the help of feedback from the instructor, as well as your peers. Expect to spend an additional 6-8hours/week studio time on completing the assignments, doing the required readings and preparing for the class discussions, and doing the research assignment.  


What skills will I learn in this course?

  • Designing and drafting patterns for making 3dimensional forms out of soft materials.
  • Various hand and machine sewing, stitching and embroidery techniques and additional fiber and soft sculpture techniques.
  • Working with digital software for both 2dimensional and 3dimensional production. The following software will be introduced: Adobe Illustrator, Fusion360, Rhinoceros. Software is available in the SOACC classroom as well as in many of the campus computing spaces. Please be sure to check ahead of time for availability if your are planning to work at a location outside of SOACC. You may also want to download free or education versions of this software or consider purchasing them at the discounted educational rate. More information about this will be covered in class. 
  • Working with laser cutter and 3D printer. For production locations, please rely on the MakerSpaces we visit as a class. Follow the instructions of the makerspace staff for setting up your file for cutting or printing. 
  • Skills for conducting interdisciplinary research and for participating in a dialogue. Learning to ask the right research questions. 
  • Conceptualizing and developing interdisciplinary ideas.
  • Presentation skills.


Course Work and Grading

Participation (with an emphasis on leadership skills and active engagement with all aspects of the course, this in class discussions and group or collaborative projects and a demonstration of your understanding of ideas from assigned readings) 45%

2 making assignments(with an emphasis on experimentation, pushing your own boundaries, exploring possibilities) 40%

1 research assignment and presentation (with an emphasis on the quality of questions raised by your research and a demonstration of a broadened understanding of ideas)  15%


Details on discussion topics, course work, assignments and field trips

The course will sample three specific examples of art making both in their own historical context and for their relevance for our current time. These are:


  1. The legacy of the Black Mountain College

    Learning about activities at the historic Black Mountain College (BMC), which operated from 1933 until 1957,  will give us an opportunity of see how this unique art school program became “the wellspring of American avant-garde” connecting the Bauhaus art and design tradition with novel ways of creative expression. BMC curriculum created boundless opportunities of spontaneity, cherished trial and error, fostered experimentation and encouraged freedom and failure as a necessary way of learning new things. While they were doing so, BMC managed to create a community of makers and innovators.

Reading: Browse the various chapters for your research in the book, Leap Before You Look by Helen Molesworth. This book is on course reserve in the Art Library. Additional books on the artists covered in this segment are also available in the library, and will be your responsibility to check out. 

Assignment: together we will co-author and perform a project in the spirit of a BMC class. In other words, we, as a class, get to make up an experimental assignment that we, as a class, will then do! This assignment also involves individual research into the life and work of a BMC or a contemporary artist (and their artwork) and an in-class visual presentation of your research. 

Field Trip: Jake Gallery, SOA+AH+D spaces and galleries

Further Online resources: Black Mountain College – 'A School Like No Other' | TateShots


  1. Feminist Movements

    The Second Wave Feminist Movement during the 1970’ sharpened focus on identity politics. This focus has also promoted a revision of history of craft (more specifically of "women’s work") by redefining fiber and textile art, including soft sculpture, as a “revolutionary” new category of art. Singling out hand-making, sewing, stitching, weaving, etc. as the metaphor for the meticulous and often under-appreciated labor of maintenance and mending, this art created a potential to speak about both universal and unique human experiences.

Reading: Excerpts from Fray: Art and Textile Politics by Julia Byan-Wilson are available in course Files. Self-guided reading from WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution by Cornelia Buttler, available on reserve in the Art Library.

Making Assignment: Symbiotic sculpture. We are going to learn various sewing and fabric construction techniques and you will design and execute a wearable piece of soft sculpture that tells a story.

Field Trip: Seattle Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery and Henry Research Study Center

Further Online Resources: Fierce Women of Art 2 | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

Female Artists Fierce Women of Art | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

Judy Chicago Judy Chicago – ‘I’m an Artist and a Troublemaker' | TateShots

Judy Chicago Judy Chicago on feminist art

Nick Cave Soundsuits https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndvl8L_a72A

  1. The machine that makes itself

    The new millennium brought about the rise of the DYI culture, open-source hacks, and MakerSpaces (shared collaborative studios for making with technology, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, VR). We will consider how these technologies and new paradigms of making contribute to our everyday creativity and to the visual arts and how DIY-making fits into our lives in the age of mass-production. How are artists and designers use DIY principles? Does the machine make the work instead of the human? What can and cannot be made by digital technology? And how does this digital technology fit into the history of crafts and craftsmanship? 

Reading: Find in the course Files: The Digital Craftsman and His Tools by Dries Verbruggen. Excerpts from Digial Artisans by Jonathan Openshaw, ed. On course reserve in the Art Library: Printing Things by Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen.

Making Assignment: Digital design (CAD) and Production (CAM) of a functional sculptural object.

You will need to download Fusion360 ahead of this assignment: https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/free-trial

(choose 30 day free trial)

Tutorials: http://f360ap.autodesk.com/courses/getting-started-in-fusion-360 (you will need to have an Autodesk account for this)

Field Trip: CoMotion, The MILL, SOA+AH+D digital studio

Further Online Resources:

Chuck Hull - Inventor, Innovator, Icon - The Story of How 3D Printing Came to Be.



Interpretation of Grading Scale:

3.9-4.0 The highest possible performance in all aspects of the course with work exemplifying exceptional quality. Exhibits outstanding creative potential.
3.5-3.8 Exhibits creative potential with superior performance in most aspects of the course; high quality in the remainder. Well prepared for subsequent courses in the field.
3.2-3.4 High performance in most aspects of the course. Very good chance of success in subsequent courses in the field. Exhibits some creative potential.
2.9-3.1 Good performance in some of the course; satisfactory performance in the remainder. Exhibits some creative potential. Good chance of success in subsequent courses in the field.
2.5-2.8 Demonstrates the minimum amount of research needed to complete the course with satisfactory performance.
2.1-2.4 Met basic requirements in most of the course, with the remainder being somewhat substandard.
2.0 and below Did not meet basic requirements for class.


List of Artists for Research:

Annie Albers

Joseph Albers

Jacob Lawrence

El Anatsui

Merce Cunningham

John Cage

Cy Twombly

Ruth Asawa

Buckminster Fuller

Nick Cave

Oliver Herring

Cosima von Bonin

Robert Rauchenberg

Tracey Emin

Lynda Benglis

Louise Bourgeois

Do Ho Suh

Judy Chicago

Ann Hamilton

Unfold Studio

Olivier Van Herpt

Nervous System

Iris Van Herpen

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to recurring themes and practices in the visual arts. Moves beyond medium-based categories, surveying a diverse range of issues that motivate artists and create content in contemporary art. Examines the importance and influence of the visual arts in the larger context of contemporary culture and society.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:02pm