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Department Programs

Art Department Writing Program

Summary Expectations For Art Majors

1. BA in Studio Art:
Students in this major are required to take ten courses in art. Two of the courses are survey art history and the other eight are studio art courses. The studio journal requirements are primarily intended for these students, though studio journal requirements are also required of all students taking studio courses.

2. BA in Art Education:
The ten-and-a-half-course art education major for teachers, k-12 includes two courses in art history, at least two courses in art education including ART 215 with required research paper, as well as the studio journal requirements in a minimum of four studio courses. In addition, students must take either ART 210, which includes the studio journal, or ART 240.

3. BA in Art History:
The nine-course major includes at least six courses with intensive writing requirements, including conferences to discuss written work (ART 233-245 and 397). The writing requirements in these upper level art history courses include research projects and papers, journaling, and other reports, including reports on gallery visits, critiques of works of art, or written reports on special lectures.

4. BFA:
The eighteen course major includes a minimum of four art history courses, including two upper level Art History courses (ART 233-245), at least twelve studio courses which require studio journaling, and the senior seminar (ART 395) in which the student is required to write a personal philosophy of art to accompany the BFA exhibition. The writing of the BFA senior seminar paper provides for at least three review and feedback stages by peers and the instructor.

[NOTE: Although the BFA in Art program already has designated writing courses, Art 395, Senior Seminar as well as two upper level art history courses; BFA students are also required to satisfy the studio journal requirement.]

A Proposal

The Department of Art as part of our curricular evaluation proposes that the writing requirement for the BA in Art and the BA in Art Education be satisfied through a journal requirement in all studio courses. All students in studio art courses are required to complete the studio journal requirement.

The department recognizes that in a typical W-course at Calvin 25% of the grade is based upon writing activities. (The department recommends that not less than 10% of the grade be designated in the three foundation studio courses, two introductory media courses, and three intermediate and advanced media courses for a total of eight courses.)

Studio Journal Expectations

Journal keeping in the studio arts will encourage the integration of these three concepts: seeing, understanding, and image making. Seeing with discernment develops from a focussed consideration of art criteria and the ability to make and articulate judgements about seeing and making art works. Informed understanding emerges from a knowledge of art history and culture. Responsive image making results from the studio practice of a medium.

Effective learning for the art major requires active engagement in both theory and practice. There needs to be a balance between lively engagement of rational and imaginative thinking, verbal expression, and the production of art. Humans learn through making and using visual marks. We use letters of alphabets, numerals and graphic symbols to convey meaning. Visual and verbal cognition are neither opposed to, nor substitutes for one another. Indeed visual and verbal cognition are complimentary ways of thinking and knowing, and thereby enhance one another in the learning experiences.

Since the proposed journals are integral to all studio art courses, students will be constantly involved in numerous verbal and visual engagements. The engagements will include those assigned by a faculty member to a class as well as those which arise for individual students in their work and require additional exploration/resolution using journaling and other learning strategies. In order to encourage integration of learning students will be required to have one comprehensive journal for one semester rather than individual journals for each course in which they may be enrolled during a semester. This proposal is based on materials developed by Professors James Bradley and Glenn Van Andel titled "Guidelines for Evaluating Student Learning in Academically Based Service" as well as publications of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The studio journal should include class notes on lectures and demonstrations, gallery reports, notes on required research, sketches, book reviews, notes on art and artists in history, notes from critique sessions as well as students statements about their intentions, discoveries, and reflections on their production in both verbal and visual form.

Studio Program Integration

Foundation Courses

The studio major is required to take two courses in survey art history, one course in design, and two courses in drawing. By means of parallel assignments in these courses, students will integrate the study of art in history, artist types and functions in culture, and art criticism, including the practice of formal analysis using the design elements of line, shape, value, color, and texture to achieve design variations of unity, balance, rhythm, and proportion. These analyses will be applied to works of formal order as well as to more essentialist non-formal expressionist art works. Individual and small group reports will be made on reading assignments from course specific texts and additional literature chosen to broaden and deepen the students' understanding of the nature and function of art in culture (use of a style guide such as Sylvan Barnet's A Short Guide to Writing About Art (2nd Ed.) is recommended).

Introductory Studio - Media Courses

In the various introductory media courses, students will concentrate on exploration while producing works of art in one medium. They will also study the history of creative artistic engagement in that medium. Students will focus on the relation between image and media technology. In painting, for example, emphasis for a class or for an individual could be placed on the use of design elements and principles in paint with parallel studies of differences and purposes of the picture plane in non-western and western art. Students would then relate these issues to their own interest and productions.

Intermediate Studio - Media Courses

Intermediate studio courses could concentrate on image and stylistic conventions such as early twentieth century movements of Futurism or Surrealism which alternately celebrated and/or critiqued new technologies and their influence on contemporary culture. Students will consider their own style in relation to content through the production and analysis of their own art works.

Advanced Studio - Media Courses

In the advanced studio courses students should apply themselves through their work to contemporary issues of artistic production and reception related to Modernism and Post Modernism. Advanced studio students will have opportunity for significant experimentation and exploration with contemporary images and issues. The results will be a significant portfolio of quality works.

Criteria for assessing levels of reflection

Professors Bradley and Van Andel have proposed a graded set of criteria for evaluating journals in service learning settings. Similar criteria would be very helpful for the studio journals, especially if the students and faculty members understand that level one evaluations are anticipated in the foundation studio courses, but that level three evaluations are expected by the time students are taking advanced studio courses.

Students will receive feedback on all their activities through the normal critique process in studio courses. This involves direct faculty response as well as class and small group discussions. Students will receive feedback on their journals from their professors at regular intervals during each semester. The review and feedback process is intended to produce growth in subsequent written and studio production, not a reworking of prior assignments. The focus is on cumulative development of critical conceptual skills, both visual and verbal.
Evaluative criteria for the studio journal will include drawn and written evidence of:

(1) Literal Observation ( Intentions)

A
descriptive information of visual/verbal resources from which the artist can draw from for creative nurture, similar to the journals of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Delacroix, and Constable.
B
recognition of various ways creative ideas arise and are translated or embodied into works of art [Roger McKim and others as examples].
C
learning from the experience of making [i.e., recording formulas for glazing compounds used in ceramics with the visual effect, selection and juxtaposition of particular pigments and the visual effects, etc.].
D
encounters with the medium; the degree to which the medium fits the intended design and the degree to which the medium imposed limits on expressing the concept.
E
study of assigned and elected art history and art critical readings in books and periodicals.
F
observed viewer responses to works of art.

(2) Interpretive Analysis (Discovery)

A
critical reflection on observation notes and sketches whether linear, analogical, or other interpretive approaches.
B
reflection on sketches, readings, studio experiences in making art works, and encounters with other art works.
C
critical analysis of art works [formal, objective, instrumental, etc].
D
reflection concerning art works as more than merely personal expressions, but when displayed involve the interaction of others in sometimes unpredictable ways with various consequences.
E
consideration of the consequences of various design and presentation solutions including expectations of the viewer and anticipated viewer responses.

(3) Evaluative Synthesis (Conclusions)

A
the selection process and the imaginative exploration of a conceptual design proposals.
B
why the selection of the proposed solution from those considered is both the most responsive and responsible, effectively, and affectively.
C
experimentation with various media within the area of concentration as appropriate for the subject and design process
[See Appendix for desired competency levels which are linked to the above evaluative criteria for studio journals and integrated with other curricularly rooted assessment criteria for use in studio as well as other art courses.]

Conclusion

Students in the studio courses are already involved in activities designed to improve their making, seeing, and understanding. Course content is designed to enable students to develop and demonstrate writing skills appropriate to the making and study of art. The faculty members in the Art Department are already using journals in selected studio courses. The present requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in a studio major do not include a required writing course. The art faculty believes that the studio journal requirement proposed herein will strengthen the art curriculum and will serve the integrative goals of the studio programs more responsibly and completely than the addition of a writing course at some level.

Students in the BFA program are required to take the senior seminar in which a written philosophy of their art and art making is required. This proposed journal requirement in all the studio courses will especially benefit these students in preparing them to successfully complete this writing requirement.

The writing requirement will be reviewed at the end of three years (beginning 1999-2000) and subsequently as part of regularly scheduled curricular review (typically every five years).

Faculty experience varies significantly in the department. Five of the eight faculty members have taught W-courses with significant writing required. All faculty members have assigned informal and formal writing in their courses. Most of the faculty members have themselves written art criticism of various types in recent years.

Appendix: Competency Levels
Assessing competency levels is intended to help students progressively development their understanding and discernment of art and art making. Journal entries are important resources for class participation and for the faculty member to evaluate progress on assigned research.

(1) Level One - basic competence with some discernment; typically achieved in Foundational Design Courses.

A
Gives examples of design solutions and creative ideas, and provides some insight into content or context. Examples and observations begin to be more then one dimensional and conventional or unassimilated repetitions of what has been heard in class or from peers.
B
Begins to go beyond the first design solution and explores simple alternatives.
C
Begins to go beyond unsupported personal beliefs such as, "I like it." Rather, than a carefully articulated rationale based on design elements and principles in relation to choice of media in relation to concept.
D
Begins to acknowledge other design possibilities with some discrimination.

(2) Level Two - competent and knowledgeable with greater discernment; typically achieved in Foundation Drawing and Introductory Media Courses

A
Design solutions and observations are fairly thorough and nuanced and begin to show a consciousness of a broader context of influences of art in history or viewer expectations and anticipated responses.
B
Shows evidence of a more complete understanding of the limits of the one, or first, design solution and actively explores alternatives.
C
Aware of other critical stances toward art works.
D
Demonstrates discrimination between personal taste and responsive use of design elements and principles for affect.

(3) Level Three - competent and knowledgeable with understanding and keen discernment; typically achieved in Intermediate and Advanced Media Courses

A
Aware of multiple critical stances toward art works [formal, instrumental, natural, technical, structural, post-structural, etc.]
B
Recognizes differences among and between critical and historical differences.
C
Recognizes differences in viewer expectations and responses in various settings [galleries, homes, institutions, juried shows, museums, alternative spaces, etc.].
D
Makes responsive judgments based on critical awareness and assessment.

Sample Syllabus Page: Journal Requirements

Effective learning requires active engagement of students in both theory and practice, a balanced and lively engagement of rational and imaginative thinking, and production. Humans learn, that is think and know, through making and using visual marks. Visual and verbal cognition are neither opposed to nor substitute for one another. Indeed visual and verbal cognition are complementary ways of thinking and knowing, and thereby enhance one another in learning experiences. As humans, we use letters of alphabets, numerals, and drawn symbols and meanings. Journal keeping will integrate drawing, writing, and calculating as mutually supportive ways of thinking and knowing for visually acute seeing, understanding , and making. DATE each entry.

Journal Content:

1
Read assignments before class and prepare first impression journal responses for discussion. Using study methods categories shown on next page, or your own organization, summarize the reading assignments in not more than one page.
2
Question / Response Sheets on reading assignment. Organize two to three pages of immediate responses, questions and reflections on the material, points you want to have clarified, issues with which you agree or disagree, and topics about which you want to know more. Record your initial thoughts ideas for further development-insightful, exploratory and experimental thinking/drawing on paper will garner highest honors! Bring to class for discussion.
3
Sketches, Class notes, Book and periodical article reviews, notes, responses, Research notes for individual and/or group projects.
4
Written reports and proposal drawings.
5
Additional questions, reflections, responses, ideas, musings, etc.

 

 

 

 

 



Evaluative criteria for the journal will include evidence of:

1
Observation-sketched and written descriptive information of visual/verbal resources from which the student can draw for intellectual/imaginative/creative nurture, similar to the journals of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Vitruvius, Palladio, etc.
2
Analysis-visual and verbal critical interpretive reflection on observation notes and sketches.
3
Synthesis-selection and imaginative experimentation/exploration/evaluation of conceptual/design ideas and/or proposals

 

 




Criteria for assessing levels of reflection O1 A2 S2.5

Level 1 - basic competence with little discernment

1
Gives examples of ideas, but provides no insight into content or context. Examples and observations tend to be one dimensional and conventional or unassimilated repetitions of what has been read or heard in class or from peers.
2
Uses unsupported personal beliefs such as, "I like it," rather than a carefully articulated rationale.
3
May acknowledge other possibilities but without discrimination

 

 

 


Level 2 - knowledgeable with some understanding and discernment

1
Observations are fairly thorough and nuanced although they tend not to be placed in a broader context of historical awareness of cultural expectations and anticipated responses.
2
Aware of other critical stances toward topics.
3
Demonstrates a measure of discrimination between personal taste and responsive use of analysis.

 

 

 

Level 3 - knowledgeable with understanding and keen discernment

1
Aware of multiple critical stances [formal, instrumental, natural, structural, etc.]
2
Recognizes differences among and between critical and historical differences.
3
Recognizes differences in cultural expectations and responses in various settings.
4
Makes responsive judgments based on critical awareness and assessment.