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ART 355 A: Materials in Context for Interdisciplinary Practice

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 209      Office hours: Before and after class. Please email for appointment.

Artwork made of yarns and found objects by Maria Nepomuceno, Curtesy of A Gentil Carioca.

Artwork by Maria Nepomuceno, Curtesy of A Gentil Carioca.

First day note: SOA+AH+D First day attendance policy for art classes:

Instructors assume that if you are not present for roll call on the first day of a studio art class you have decided not to remain enrolled. If you miss the first day without permission, your seat becomes open and it is your responsibility to drop the course.

Open seats will be made available to unregistered student present on the first day. 

Quick link to Course Schedule

Course Description

This interdisciplinary course focuses on exploring the meanings, uses, visual/sculptural and narrative potentials of fiber and textile materials for sculptural purposes.

This is a studio course, consisting of a series of studio (making) assignments of soft sculpture, which are primarily 3D applications of soft and malleable sculptural materials, such as fibers (yarn, thread and wool) and textiles. Ideas taken from these projects may also be further developed into an expanded range of interdisciplinary projects, like installations, performances, digital or time-based media.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we are planning class times in a way that allows the students increased flexibility and less dependence on studio resources at the School. If you are feeling sick and/or have any symptom of Covid or the flue, please stay home and get well/get tested. If you must be absent from class, make sure that the check-in points are still being met and contact instructor for discussing how to catch up. At the very least, you must submit deliverables to Canvas with your specific questions (what do you need feedback on?) and email the instructor for an appointment to discuss them. Absences put an additional burden on both you and your instructor. They should be rare and justified. 

During class times, we are going to focus on individual project consultations, discussions, peer and group critiques and hands-on reviews of technical information based on your individual project needs. Students are responsible for meeting, fully prepared, all designated check-in points throughout the quarter in-person, as stated on the course schedule. No exceptions. Flexibility and independence comes with a great responsibility for you to get as much out of our class times together as possible. 

Step-by-step technical demonstrations will be done in class and resources to these are also available online. Students are responsible for reviewing these ahead of time for each class. During class time, we can revisit details for further clarification and address your individual technical questions, but do not expect a repeat of the demos. Assignments must demonstrate fluency with at least 2 of the main techniques from each assignment.  

Studio work-times are designated on the Schedule and may be accomplished in the classroom during class times, in the classroom space outside of our scheduled class times, in the IVA LINK space, or in your home workspace. If you are interested in working in the Art building outside of regular hours, you must have a confirmed building access (see Art Advising for details).

Budget the equivalent of in-class studio time  + assignment homework studio time (together appr. 10-12+ hours/week) for completing the assignments. You may find that many of the processes are quite relaxing (flow state of mind), but they also may take longer than expected. Find ways to integrate some of the making process into your daily life!

Materials and tools for practicing the basic techniques and some additional supply will be provided in class. These are covered by the course fee. Please consult the instructor about which of these can and which cannot be taken out of the classroom. 

In addition, each of the projects will require that you obtain your own materials and basic tools. Suggestions for these and for the suppliers will be available in the assignment. Expect to spend a total of $30-60+ during the quarter on supplies, depending on your project idea.  Free materials are available through the SOA+AH+D Materials Library (check with Art Advising about access). Consider reuse/recycle stores for attaining supplies.  



There are 3 assignments.

Assignment #1 uses needlework techniques: sewing, embroidery and applique. We will make a suite of 3 small handheld objects and explore the cultural history of amulets, mojo bags, medicine bundles, and talismans. Finished objects will be installed in the hallway and exchanged with fellow students in class. Weeks 1-3

Assignment #2 is a wearable sculptural object using felting techniques for natural wool inspired by headwear and masks from the Seattle Art Museum's Native American and African Art Collections. We will learn several techniques for wet (2D and 3D) and dry (needle) felting. Students will design, create a paper template to fit their own body, and develop a  sculptural ornament to be worn on the head (with face being partially or fully covered). Not to underestimate the performative aspect of such sculptural piece, this project may be expanded into video, sound or performance. Weeks 4-7

Assignment #3: is based on the book Staying with the Trouble by Donna Haraway (a 20-page excerpt is available & a required reading). Students are asked to respond to Haraway's concepts of SF (String Figures), making kin, multispecies storytelling and "becoming-with". We will be learning various yarn techniques, including crochet, bead crochet and a simple weaving. Students will be be developing their project as a site-responsive installation using these techniques and other previously learned techniques. A good way of thinking about this project is using space or playing with string figures on an architectural scale. Possibilities for expansion: video installation, sound work, live performance, interaction/participatory work, dance. Weeks 8-Final


Practice of the demonstrated basic techniques is required. Experimentation with these techniques is highly desired. Only through experimentation you may be able to understand the boundaries of materials and tools, redefine form, function and narratives.

Roll up your sleeve and bring your curiosity!


Course Objectives/Learning Goals

  • Gain experience with a variety of fiber/textile materials.
  • Broaden your skill set with different fiber/textile techniques of construction.
  • Broaden your understanding of how objects function in various forms (handheld, wearable and spatial) and contexts.
  • Further your understanding of general sculptural concepts, formal elements of 2D, 3D, 4D constructions, and their relationship in space and time.
  • Develop fluency with creating interactions between context, material and meaning.
  • Gain familiarity with relevant cultural concepts and histories, and with relevant contemporary art ideas and practitioners.
  • Develop projects for your portfolio.
  • Most importantly: Experiment. Make your work meaningful and personal. Challenge yourself! 



Your final grade will be determined by the following:

Assignment #1, #2, and #3 (See details in Assignment grading + meeting assignment check-points, and general preparedness for class)              3 x 30%

Participation (active contributions made to in-class activities, such as discussions, peer and group critiques) + Professional manner (individual effort, commitment, progress)    10%


Assignment grading will be based on the following criteria:

  • Ideation, research and thought process (including check point #1: reading/research notes; mood-boards, assignment journals, and planning notes)
  • Design and development of form (including check point #2: design drawings, mock-ups and models);
  • Development (including check point #3: , material tests, evidence of complexity, appropriateness to assignment criteria and personal goals, considerations for materials, scale and presentation);
  • Craft: fluency with at least 2 of demonstrated techniques from each assignment;
  • Experimentation: Going beyond basic solutions, exploring further material, technical, functional and interdisciplinary potentials. Exhibiting drive and passion for the project. 

Note: Feedback and evaluation of the finished assignment is done during class presentation and critique. Scores on Canvas are a form of documenting the main points of the feedback and evaluating the project by the above listed set of criteria. It is important that you consult the rubric to see which areas need more attention, and thus, improvement, and which are those that have been most successful.

The maximum to earn on each criterium is 10pts.

9-10 points: most complete and successful in that aspect;

7-8 points: together in fundamental aspects but has other smaller issues to still resolve;

5-6 point: together in fundamental aspects but has one or two important issues to still resolve,

3-4 points: need significantly more resolution, even in the fundamentals.

0-2: completely unresolved in all aspects.


How does the final total percentage system translate into grades?
Letter Number %
A 4.0 98-100
A- 3.9-3.5 90-97
B+ 3.4-3.2 85-89
B 3.1-2.9 80-84
B- 2.8-2.5 76-79
C+ 2.4-2.2 73-75
C 2.1-1.9 70-72
C- 1.8-1.5 67-69
D+ 1.4-1.2 64-66
D 1.1-0.9 60-63


Lowest passing grade.



Academic failure.
No credit earned.

55 and below 


Interpretation of the Course 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

Absences and missed assignment check-points, activities, and due dates:

  • Check Canvas regularly, at least twice a week, for updates (Go to Schedule).
  • Stuff can happen. Communicate with the instructor (timea@uw.eduearly and frequently.  Don't wait until the problem gets bigger. I'm here to help you navigate and successfully complete the course. 
  • Missed assignment due dates and missed assignment critiques will result in no credit for that assignment. Missed in-class activities, for example, peer reviews and discussions, do not have remote alternative, and will result in partial credit.
  • Class times that require your participation are clearly listed on the schedule. Absence from these will result in lost participation credits, negatively affecting the final grade.
  • Contact the instructor in person by the end of week 2 if you have a planned absence due to religious observation, important family or life event. Please plan ahead. Accommodations can only be made with proper notification of the instructor and by demonstrating a clear plan for making up.
  • Contact the instructor via email ( as soon as possible if you need to miss a class due to unforeseen emergency (including staying away due to signs of illness, possible Covid exposure, positive testing, quarantining, inclement weather commute, any sort of medical, personal or family situation). Set-up a schedule for making up of missed checkpoints, work time, and deliverables. Accommodations will only be made with proper notification and in consultation with instructor.
  • If you must be absent, follow up on Canvas on your own to review activities, demos, and assignment guidelines. We have a buddy-system for reaching out to get class notes and additional information missed; please reach out to them. Contact the instructor if you have specific questions that were not answered by the previous sources.
  • Inclement weather/snow: consult UW site for campus closures. If campus is open (classes are held) but you are unable to commute, follow instructions for unforeseen emergency. As soon as you are able to, you are required to check Canvas and UW email for instructor’s messaging with regard to schedule changes (demos, assignments, deliverables and available online resources). Notify the instructor if your commute or internet situation are expected to last past the campus  closure day/s.

Covid Precautions/In Case of Feeling Ill:

  • All individuals are required to wear a face covering indoors, regardless of vaccination status, when on site at a University of Washington location. This requirement is applicable indoors when other people are present and in all public and common areas, including, but not limited to classrooms, shared studio spaces, lobbies, hallways, stairways, restrooms, and elevators.
  • UW Face covering requirements
  • No eating and drinking in the classroom/studio. Use designated areas for eating/drinking. 
  • If you are sick and/or have any symptom listed here, you MUST stay at home and get better. DO NOT come to class, but DO contact the instructor (see above for unforeseen emergencies).
  • See
  • Sign up for Husky Coronavirus testing
  • As a reminder, if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms, such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, muscle pain, loss of taste or smell, unexplained headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms- even if you are fully vaccinated:

    1. Stay Home, do not go to work or class, or to any public location (except a health care facility/testing site).
    2. Get tested. Enroll in the Husky Coronavirus Testing program or read the University COVID-19 FAQ, I want to get tested for COVID-19. Where can I go?
    3. If you test positive, notify UW Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) at or 206-616-3344.
  • If someone else in the class tests positive: Individuals identified as having been in “close contact” with the person who tested positive for COVID-19 are contacted by the University’s contact tracing team and provided instructions for getting tested, monitoring for symptom and, if needed, quarantining. “Close contact” is defined as being within six feet for at least 15 minutes cumulatively during a 24-hour period.
  • Although EH&S will provide advice in situations of potential classroom exposure, quarantining is not necessary for students and faculty who are vaccinated and not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If you are not being contacted and if you are vaccinated, you do not have to quarantine. 

In Class:

  • Always have some new development to show. Little steps go a long way. We cannot discuss your work without actually looking at some physical evidence of it. Have a dedicated sketchbook and collect ideas, research notes, reading summaries, and technical notes all in one place.
  • Prep work: research, materials, plans/mock-ups, material tests, work in progress are an essential part of the development of each project. Make sure to meet the preparation check points as listed on Canvas Schedule. Failure to do so will result in loss of points at assignment grading.
  • Participate! Add relevant content to the topical discussions and group activities. Ask questions and interact with the instructor 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 time.


Last day of meeting: scheduled final exam time  Wednesday, December 15th 2:30-4:20pm on FINALS WEEK


Building policies:  

Art building is open to the public Mon-Fri, 8am-6:20pm. 

After-hours access: must have your Husky card to enter the building at any time, at the loading dock entrance.

Must have card activated via (under #18. After-Hours Access). 


Renting a locker: visit the Admin Office in Room 102. Lockers are $12 a quarter (cash, check, credit card, and husky card are accepted). 


SOA+AH+D Policy

See here

Religious Accommodations Policy

“Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( policy/)Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using theReligious Accommodations Request Form.”

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: 
June 20, 2021 - 3:28am