Possession and Revolt by Caitlyn Wilson

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ART 355 A: Materials in Context for Interdisciplinary Practice

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 5:20pm
ART 207
Timea Tihanyi
Timea Tihanyi

Syllabus Description:

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

MW 2:30-5:20 Room: ART207

Instructor: Timea Tihanyi timea@uw.edu Office: Art 328J      Office hours: by appointment


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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 (appr. 6-8hours) 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 natural (wool, paper pulp) materials 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 (latex and rubber) or edible materials (for example, chocolate). 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 various materials. 

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 (1 smaller exercise and 2 main projects). Quality of these projects based on the following criteria:

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

Note: Feedback and evaluation of the finished assignment is done during class presentation and critique. Scoring on Canvas is a form of documenting the main points of the feedback and evaluating 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".

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.


Important information about student conduct:

  • Contact the instructor as soon as possible if you need to miss a class or have questions about the assignment. 
  • Missed assignments, critiques and any peer or class activities will result in no credit for that assignment. 
  • Absences from class prevent participation and thus will result in lost participation credits for the day, negatively affecting the final grade.
  • If sudden illness, emergency or random act of nature should prevent you from attending class, you are responsible for following up with a classmate for class notes, reviewing missed concepts and techniques, checking assignment guidelines, and completing required work ON TIME.
  • If you are sick and contagious, stay at home and get better. If you must miss a class due to illness, let your instructor know immediately and develop a timeline for keeping up with the assignment.
  • Have a sketchbook and collect ideas, research notes and reading summaries, and technical notes in it.
  • Check Canvas regularly, at least twice a week, for updates.
  • Participate! Add relevant content to the topical discussions and group activities. Ask questions and interact with the instructor, guest speakers, and your peers.
  • Electronics (laptops, tablets, phones and other smart devices) are only allowed when the instructor calls for their use. Outside of these times, turn off and put these away.
  • No headphones, earbuds in during class.
  • Class begins and ends at the appointed time. We will take breaks as appropriate. Arrive on time and plan to stay for the entire duration of class.

 Last day of meeting: during FINALS WEEK on Tuesday, December 11th, 2:30-4:30pm. 

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: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:11pm