2013-2014 Visual Arts Courses
Introduction to Television Writing: Writing the Spec Script
The fundamental skill of television writers is the ability to craft entertaining and compelling stories for characters, worlds, and situations created by others. Though dozens of writers may work on a show over the course of its run, the “voice” of the show is unified and singular. The way to best learn to write for television—and a mandatory component of your portfolio for agents, managers, show runners, and producers—is to draft a sample episode of a pre-existing show, known as a spec script. Developing, pitching, writing, and rewriting stories hundreds of times, extremely quickly, in collaboration, and on tight deadlines is what TV writers on staff do every day, fitting each episode seamlessly into the series as a whole in tone, concept, and execution. This workshop will introduce students to these skills by taking them, step-by-step, through writing their own spec (sample) script for an ongoing dramatic television series. The course will take students from premise lines, through the outline/beat sheet, to writing a complete draft of a full one-hour teleplay for a currently airing show. No original pilots. In conference, students may wish to develop another spec script, begin to develop characters and a series "bible" for an original show, or work on previously developed material.
The word “collage” derives from the French coller, meaning "glue.” The term was coined by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in the early 20th century for an art form comprised of pre-existing images that the artist manipulates and recombines in new ways. In this studio course, students will explore the myriad processes and materials of collage used today: paper, paint, three-dimensional objects, digital, photographic, found materials, and others. We will also learn about the history of collage through slide lectures and presentations—from its origins in Eastern art to its recent resurgence in Western contemporary art. Visits to artist's studios in New York City and visiting artists in class will also provide a foundation and inspiration for our work. Pervading this exploration will be an ongoing discussion about the significance of appropriation: What do authorship and creativity mean to you? This course will allow students to express themselves, in extremely personal ways, through the manipulation and recombination of images. Collage: Almost always obsolete, almost always new, it’s an exciting line to walk.
Screenwriting: Introduction to Writing Movies
The course will focus on building a solid foundation in writing for the screen. Through weekly, short, writing assignments, students will learn to craft well-structured, short screenplays. Students will tackle fundamental screenwriting issues, such as finding a story’s main dramatic tension, crafting dialogue without relying on it to move the story along, and writing in succinct visual language. Students will have an opportunity to read published work, watch finished films in order to evaluate the screenwriting, and analyze each others’ work-in-progress. The aim of the class is for each student to produce a number of short, polished screenplays that are ready for future production. Conference projects may include revisions of previous work or refinement of work presented in the workshop, as well as the development and refining of long-form ideas, outlines, and finished pages.
Filmmaking, Screenwriting and Media Arts
First-Year Studies: Working With Performance For Screenwriters and Directors
How does an emerging screenwriter understand what an actor needs from a screenplay? What does an aspiring director need from the screenplay text in order to help an actor shape a performance? Whether you are an emerging screenwriter, director, or both, how does one get the best results from actors without confusing or overcomplicating the creative process? How does one create a collaborative environment among the screenwriter, the director, and the performer? Whether you want to write or direct or both, it is imperative that you understand the rigorous demands of the acting process. This is not an acting course for actors but, rather, an exploration of the actors’ art and craft for the emerging screenwriter and director. The course will offer the student the opportunity to develop a tool kit for the creation of “actable” screenwriting and meaningful performances to be rendered on screen. It will help the screenwriter and filmmaker tease out what a character is meant to be “doing” in any given scene. The course will also explore a language of communication between the director/writer and the performer. This will be both an analytical and physical class. Key to the course is a student’s understanding of the need for character definition through action on the page and a director’s understanding of how to help an actor realize that action in the performance rendered by the camera. During the first semester, students will immerse themselves in the world of the performer. They will work on emotional expansion and trust exercises and on improvisational skills and act in scenes from published works. Students will be expected to analyze and write about performance so as to gain a deeper understanding of the creative process. Using scenes from contemporary films, they will observe, write about, and discuss the political, historical, and cultural evolution of contemporary directing and acting styles. Using published screenplays and clips from their attendant scenes, students will learn the relationship between the words on the page and the interpretation of those words by the performer as the performance is revealed on the screen. During the second semester, students will work with actors and apply the skills developed during the fall. Scenes will be rehearsal shot, reviewed, and critiqued as a group during the next class. As a final project in class, students will pursue an analysis of a screenwriter’s writing and a director’s direction thereof, revealing the relationship between the writing and eventual realized performance on the screen. The spring conference project will culminate in the creation, through collaboration, of a scripted scene, which will be revised, rehearsed, shot, and edited with the technical assistance of experienced personnel.
Digital Documentary Storytelling: Development and Process
This yearlong course explores the art of documentary storytelling. Synthesizing theory and practice, the class introduces the palette of documentary production styles and approaches illustrated in the works of leading documentary directors, including the Maysles brothers, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Sam Pollard, Jonathan Demme, Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Nick Broomfield, Jennifer Fox, and the Newsreel Collective. The workshop also presents and deconstructs big box office documentaries by celebrity filmmakers—Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and John Chu (Never Say Never). Each student is encouraged to experience theory as a means of discovering her own individual voice and establishing his own production process/practice. The course is designed to work both as seminar and practicum. In weekly sessions, students consider stylistic, ideological, ethical, and political implications of documentary content and examine the relationship between documentary films and social change. Over the course of a full year, students develop, research, write treatments, pitch, produce, direct, and edit short 8- to 15-minute documentaries. Technical labs in shooting and editing are scheduled throughout the fall and spring terms to strengthen technical production and editing skill sets and to expose students to state-of-the art equipment and software; e.g., Adobe After Effects, Pro Tools, and high-end, high-definition recording equipment. Production and editing exercises, as well as conceptual writing assignments, prepare students for the tasks of writing treatments and putting together pitch samples and trailers for their conference film productions. Ultimately, students are encouraged to explore the aesthetics and practices of documentary filmmaking as a gateway to self-expression and an opportunity to create that short documentary they’ve always imagined.
Filmmaking: Visions of Social Justice
In this course, students will collaborate with local nonprofit organizations to produce a 3- to 5-minute film that will be a portrait of the organization and speak to its cause. The projects are a combination of advertising and research, providing valuable content for under-represented and marginalized communities. The class will work in teams to produce their films and, ultimately, deliver material to our partner organizations to be used online. Local travel is involved, along with many shoots in neighborhoods that our partners serve. Students will be encouraged to think beyond a traditional nonfiction short film and explore all forms of brand content that may include animation, high-concept advertising, the integration of media platforms, and other forms of social engagement.
Working With Light and Shadows
This course will introduce students to the basics of cinematography and film production. In addition to covering camera operation, students will explore composition, visual style, and overall operation of lighting and grip equipment. Students will work together on scenes that are directed and produced in class and geared towards the training of set etiquette, production language, and workflow. Students will discuss work and give feedback that will be incorporated into the next round of projects. For conference work, students will be required to produce a short project on HD Video (3-5 minutes in length), incorporating elements discussed throughout the semester. They will write the concept, outline the project, deliver the script, draw floor plans, create shot-lists, edit, and screen the final product for the class. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop that plunges the student into all aspects of film production. By the end of the course, students should feel confident enough to approach a film production project with enough experience to take on introductory positions with potential for growth. This course will be offered again in spring 2014.
Working With Light and Shadows
This course will introduce students to the basics of cinematography and film production. In addition to covering camera operation, students will explore composition, visual style, and overall operation of lighting and grip equipment. Students will work together on scenes directed and produced in class and geared toward the training of set etiquette, production language, and workflow. Students will discuss work and give feedback that will be incorporated into the next round of projects. For conference work, students will be required to produce a short project on HD video (3-5 minutes in length), incorporating elements discussed throughout the semester. They will write the concept, outline the project, deliver the script, draw floor plans, create shot-lists, edit, and screen the final product for the class. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop that plunges the student into all aspects of film production. By the end of the course, students should feel confident enough to approach a film production project with enough experience to take on introductory positions with potential for growth.
Cinematography: Composition, Color, and Style
Cinematography: Composition, Color, and Style
Building on the foundation of Working With Light and Shadows, this course will continue to explore many of the elements at play in the construction of a shot, including framing, color, exposure, depth of field, and movement. More ambitious and intricate short scenes will be produced in class, geared toward expanding skills in terms of set etiquette, production language, and workflow. Students will discuss their work and give feedback that will be incorporated into the next round of projects. For conference work, students will be required to produce a new short project on HD video (3-5 minutes in length), incorporating elements discussed throughout the semester. They will write the concept, outline the project, write and/or collaborate on the screenplay to be shot, draw floor plans, create shot-lists, shoot, edit, and screen the final project for the class. Students will collaborate with peers on projects in order to hone their abilities. This is an intensive, hands-on workshop that challenges the student in all aspects of film production. By the end of the course, students should have the skill set and feel confident in applying for entry-level or better production opportunities on professional productions.
This production course is for adventurers, artists, and budding filmmakers interested in exploring the medium of film for artistic expression and social inquiry. The images and experiences developed through experimental film and video are as varied as the artists that make them. There is, by definition, no formula for this kind of work. Like paintings or poems, each film reflects the artist as much as the content driving the work. This course is designed to introduce the language of experimental film and strategies for the use of video/film and audio design as an expressive tool. We will investigate the idea of radical content and experimental form by establishing the normative models and procedures of cinema and video and then exploring ways to challenge these conventions. Through a series of video and 8mm film assignments, the class will consider moving image forms and style that blur the boundaries among narrative, documentary, and abstract filmmaking. Projects will be furthered by screenings, readings, seminar discussions, and field trips. Topics will include, but are not limited to, issues of identity, place, the performative body, border crossings, cultural equivocation and mannerisms, blemished topographies, ritual, and transformation. Labs are designed to help students develop proficiency with film equipment, including portable and studio production and editing systems.
Animation Studio: Direct Techniques
Animation is the magic of giving life to objects and materials through motion. Whether through linear storytelling or conceptual drive, a sense of wonder is achieved with materials, movement, and transformation. Students will learn the fundamentals of making animated films in a hands-on workshop environment, where we are actively creating during every class meeting. The class will include instruction in a variety of stop-motion techniques, including cut-out animation, painting on glass, sequential drawing using pencil and paper or chalk boards, sand animation, and simple object animation. We will cover all aspects of progressive movement, especially the laying out of ideas through time and the development of convincing character and motion. The course will cover basic design techniques and considerations, including materials, execution, and color. We will also have a foundational study of the history of experimental animation through viewing the historical animated film work of artists from around the globe. During the semester, each student will complete five short animated films ranging in length from 30 seconds to one minute. Students are required to provide their own external hard drives and additional art materials. Labs will be used for technical training in Animate Pro®, iStop Motion® and digital editing software. Two separate, eight-person classes meet one time per week.
Experimental Animation: Hybrid Imaging
In this course, students will develop fluency in the knowledge of creative possibilities embedded in the marriage between hand animation and digital processes. Working exclusively in Adobe’s Photoshop® and After Effects® software, we will explore the production of animated films by integrating found photographic material, 2D puppetry, rotoscoping, and other digital markmaking with live media and sound. Students will produce a series of short animated works ranging in length from one to three minutes. Final projects will include animation for cinema, performance animation, and/or animation for installations. The goal this semester is to discover new ways to use the digital animation medium for idea-based applications. We will work on concept development, visual planning, and production pathways. Frequent discussions about your work and about the work of renowned artists will broaden the understanding and appreciation of experimental work and will expand each participant’s creative boundaries. Prior knowledge of digital production and editing software is not required. Two separate eight-person classes meet one time per week.
Storyboard Drawing and Visualization for Film, Animation, and Interactive Media
This course focuses on the art of storyboard construction as the preproduction stage for graphics, film/video, and animation. Students will be introduced to storyboard strategies, exploring visual concepts such as shot types, continuity, pacing, transitions, and sequencing into visual communication. Both classical and experimental techniques for creating storyboards will be covered, with emphasis placed on the production of storyboard drawings—both by hand and digitally—to negotiate sequential image development and to establish shot-by-shot progression, staging, frame composition, editing, and continuity in film and other media. Instruction will concentrate primarily on drawing from thumbnail sketches through final presentation storyboards and animatics. The final project for this class will be the production by each student of a full presentation storyboard and a low-res animatic in a combined visual, audio, and text presentation format. Knowledge of storyboards and animatics from this class can be used for idea development and presentation of your project to collaborators, pitching projects to professional agencies, and, most importantly for you, the maker. Storyboard Pro®, Photoshop and Final Cut Pro X® software will be taught and used throughout this course. Other software, such as After Effects, Illustrator®, and Flash® software may be used by students in the development of storyboards and animatics, based on the student’s own knowledge level of the software.
Drawing for Animation: Light and Form
This course focuses on the fundamentals of drawing as it pertains to two-dimensional animation. Students will gain knowledge in drawing from direct life (including from the model), by understanding light logic through observation, and by developing form and structure utilizing perspective drawing concepts. Through exercises and assignments, students will develop skills and knowledge of formal visual elements such as line, shape, space, form, and texture, with an emphasis on drawing space, form, and the figure. This course will enhance drawing skills and help students develop stronger drawing proficiencies for animations, graphic novels, and narrative storyboards for film. Students will work in a variety of media, including pencil, charcoal, chalk, and markers.
Writing for the Screen
This yearlong course for the beginning to intermediate screenwriter is a rigorous, yet intimate, setting in which to explore screenwriting works-in-progress. The course, structured as an intensive workshop, will investigate the nature of screenwriting. Students may work on either short-form or feature-length screenplays. They will read peer work, with the entire process supported by in-class analysis and critiques thereof. We will migrate from an initial idea through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites to a series of finished, short-form screenplays or a feature-length script. Fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, structure, and style will be explored. In conference, students may research and develop other long-form screenplays or teleplays, craft a series of additional short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, or adapt original material from another creative form.
Script to Screen
This workshop will introduce students to the basics of filmmaking through HD video production. From the initial concept through editing, students will get a taste of all phases of production. Students will shoot exercises focusing on cinesthetic elements such as slow disclosure, parallel action, multiangularity, and the master shot discipline. Students will watch and analyze each other’s exercises, learning how to become active film viewers and give useful critical feedback. For their conference work, students will be required to produce a short film. They will write the screenplay, cast and direct actors, draw floorplans and shot-lists, edit the video on Final Cut Pro, and screen the final production for the class. This class is not a history or theory class but a practical hands-on workshop that puts theory into practice and immerses students in all aspects of filmmaking development, writing, directing, and production on through to a finished project. This course will be offered again in spring 2014.
Screenwriting: The Art and Craft of Film-Telling
How do you write a screenplay? One word at a time, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Pursuing the fundamentals of developing and writing narrative fiction for motion-picture screenplays, the course starts with a focus on the short-form screenplay. We’ll explore the nature of writing screen stories for film, the Web, and television. The approach views screenwriting as having less of a connection to literature and playwriting and more of a connection to the oral tradition of storytelling. We will dissect the nature and construct of the screenplay to reveal that the document—the script—is actually the process of “telling your film” (or movie, or Web series, or TV show, et al). In Film-Telling, the emerging screenwriter will be encouraged to think and approach the work as a director; because until someone else emerges to take the reins (if it is not the screenwriter), the writer is the director—if only on the page. With the class structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style exchanges, students will read selected texts and produced screenplays, write detailed script analyses, view films and clips, and, naturally, write short narrative fiction screenplays. While students will be writing scripts starting in the first class, they will also be introduced to the concept of “talking their stories,” as well, in order to explore character and plot while gaining a solid foundation in screen storytelling, visual writing, and screenplay evolution. We will migrate from initial idea through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites to a series of finished short-form screenplays. The fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style will be explored, with students completing a series of short scripts and a final written project. In-class analysis of peer work within the context of a safe environment will help students have a critical eye and develop skills to apply to the troubleshooting of one’s own work. Overall, the student builds a screenwriter’s tool kit to use as various projects emerge in the future. In conference, students may research and develop a long-form screenplay or teleplay, develop a TV series concept and “bible,” initiate and develop a Web series concept, craft a series of short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, adapt original material from another form, and so forth. Research and screen storytelling skills developed through the course may be applied to other writing forms. This course will be offered again in spring 2014.
Filmmaking Structural Analysis
This course explores narrative storytelling forms in contemporary cinema and screenwriting. Geared toward the perspective of the aspiring/emerging screenwriter, filmmaker, and/or media artist, the seminar includes screenings of films and the concurrent reading of source materials and their respective screenplays. Cinema language, dramatic theory, and cinematic story structures will be explored, including sequencing, episodic, three-act, four-act, seven-act, teleplay, and the so-called character-driven forms. Selected texts will also be read, and weekly structural analyses will be written. Students will also explore screenwriting exercises throughout the course and investigate the connection between oral storytelling and the nature of narration through the screenplay. Conference projects often focus on the development of a long-form screenplay/teleplay, analytical research paper, or other film-related endeavors. A foundation course for narrative screenwriting, filmmaking, and new media projects, as well as dramatic analysis, the course develops skills that can be applied to other forms of dramatic writing and storytelling.
Script to Screen
This workshop will introduce students to the basics of filmmaking through HD video production. From the initial concept through editing, students will get a taste of all phases of production. Students will shoot exercises focusing on cinesthetic elements such as slow disclosure, parallel action, multiangularity, and the master shot discipline. Students will watch and analyze each other’s exercises, learning how to become active film viewers and give useful critical feedback. For their conference work, students will be required to produce a short film. They will write the screenplay, cast and direct actors, draw floorplans and shot-lists, edit the video on Final Cut Pro®, and screen the final production for the class. This class is not a history or theory class but a practical, hands-on workshop that puts theory into practice and immerses students in all aspects of filmmaking development, writing, directing, and production on through to a finished project.
Screenwriting: The Art and Craft of Film-Telling
How do you write a screenplay? One word at a time, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Pursuing the fundamentals of developing and writing narrative-fiction for motion-picture screenplays, the course starts with a focus on the short-form screenplay. We’ll explore the nature of writing screen stories for film, the Web and television. The approach views screenwriting having less of a connection to literature and playwriting and more of a connection to the oral tradition of storytelling. We will dissect the nature and construct of the screenplay to reveal that the document—the script—is actually the process of “telling your film” (or movie, or Web series, or TV show, et al). In Film-Telling, the emerging screenwriter will be encouraged to think and approach the work as a director; because until someone else emerges to take the reins (if it is not the screenwriter), the writer is the director—if only on the page. With the class structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style exchanges, students will read selected texts and produced screenplays, write detailed script analyses, view films and clips, and, naturally, write short narrative-fiction screenplays. While students will be writing scripts starting in the first class, they will also be introduced to the concept of “talking their stories,” as well, in order to explore character and plot while gaining a solid foundation in screen storytelling, visual writing, and screenplay evolution. We will migrate from initial idea through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites to a series of finished short-form screenplays. The fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style will be explored, with students completing a series of short scripts and a final written project. In-class analysis of peer work within the context of a safe environment will help students have a critical eye and develop skills to apply to the troubleshooting of one’s own work. Overall, the student builds a screenwriter’s tool kit for use as various projects emerge in the future. In conference, students may research and develop a long-form screenplay or teleplay, develop a TV series concept and “bible,” initiate and develop a Web series concept, craft a series of short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, adapt original material from another form, and so forth. Research and screen storytelling skills developed through the course can be applied to other writing forms.
Making the Genre Film: Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy
Working within a genre can greatly assist the fledgling filmmaker by suggesting content and stylistic elements, thereby freeing the artist to focus on self-expression. This is a hands-on production course with a focus on producing genre films. Our class discussions and video exercises will explore various ideas present in the so-called “lesser genres” of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, including the idea of the “monster,” man/woman vs. society, suspense, fear, sexual politics, and repression, as well as the smart use of special effects and other strategies for the independent filmmaker working in genre filmmaking. In addition to class exercises, students will each produce and direct a short video project for their conference work.
Making the Independent Feature Film
This course is a real-world, hands-on experience in independent film project development and production. We take the journey from screenplay draft preparation and breakdown, preproduction, casting, rehearsal, visualization and storyboarding, principal photography/production, and editing/post-production process through to marketing to the independent film festival and Web platforms. Students will explore all aspects of film development and production while migrating to areas of specific interest. They will gain a holistic perspective on the full spectrum of engagement endemic to the prism of independent filmmaking. In addition to working in all areas of project development and production, each student will break down a scene from the script, storyboard it, rehearse actors, and co-direct a scene from the film with the professor. Working in teams, students will also help edit scenes for the film and prepare the film for exhibition. In addition to course credit, students will be conferred on-screen credit for their involvement in the project. Skills learned in the course can be utilized by the student in developing and preparing her/his own independent film projects.
The Director Prepares
From screenplay until the actual shooting of a film, what does a director do to prepare? This class will explore, in depth, some of the many processes a director may use in order to develop and actualize her or his vision, including screenplay revision, interpretation and breakdown, character development, accessing and communicating visual ideas for the look of the film, studying camera styles and movement in order to decide how best to visually realize your story through your shot selection, staging, and casting. Each student will pursue a series of exercises, culminating in the directing, shooting, and editing of two exercises—one scene (a private moment) to develop character through cinematic storytelling, and one scene, with dialogue, from the screenplay—in order to experiment with all the ideas developed throughout the class.
The Director Prepares
From screenplay until the actual shooting of a film, what does a director do to prepare? This class will explore, in depth, some of the many processes a director may use in order to develop and actualize her or his vision, including screenplay revision, interpretation and breakdown, character development, accessing and communicating visual ideas for the look of the film, studying camera styles and movement in order to decide how best to visually realize your story through your shot selection, staging and casting. Each student will pursue a series of exercises, culminating in the directing, shooting, and editing of two exercises—one scene (a private moment) to develop character through cinematic storytelling, and one scene, with dialogue, from the screenplay—in order to experiment with all the ideas developed throughout the class.
Producing for the Screen: A Real World Guide, Part I
Producers are credited on every film, television, and media project made. They are crucial—even seminal—to each and every production no matter how big or small. Yet, even as a pivotal position in the creative and practical process of making a film, TV show, or media project, the title “producer” is perhaps the least understood of all the collaborators involved. What is a producer? This course answers that question, examining what a producer actually does in the creation of screen-based media and the many hats one, or a small army of producers, may wear at any given time. Students will explore the role of the producer in the filmmaking, television, and video process from the moment of creative inspiration through project development and proposal writing, financing, physical production—indeed, down to the nuts-and-bolts aspects of script breakdown, budgeting, scheduling, and delivering a film, TV, or video project. Students will gain hands-on experience in developing projects, breaking them down into production elements, and crafting schedules and budgets, as well as learn pitching skills and packaging strategies. Course work includes proposal and treatment writing, script breakdown, scheduling and budgeting, pitching, and final project presentation. Conference projects may include the producing of a film or media project by a student in another filmmaking production class at Sarah Lawrence College, a case study of several films from the producer perspective, the development and preproduction of a proposed future “virtual” film or video project, and the like. A practical course in the ways and means of producing, the class will consider the current state of producing through case studies, nuts-and-bolts production software and exercises, and guest producers, directors, actors, and industry professionals currently working in film and television. Designed to provide real-world producing guidance, the course provides filmmakers and screenwriters with a window on the importance of, and the mechanics pertaining to, the producing discipline and a practical skill set for seeking work in the filmmaking and media-making world after Sarah Lawrence College.
Producing for the Screen: A Real World Guide, Part II
Building on the course work and experiences associated with Part I of this course, students continue to explore the role of the producer from the moment of creative inspiration through project development, log line, treatment and proposal writing, financing, physical production—indeed, down to the nuts-and-bolts aspects of script breakdown, budgeting, scheduling, and delivering a film, television, or video project to a network or distributor. Students apply knowledge and skills from Part l to focus on gaining a deeper knowledge of best producing practices, entertainment law, producing dos and don’ts, traditional and innovative financing models, domestic and foreign film and television markets, daily industry trends, film and television sizzle and trailer production, pitching skills, film marketing and publicity, distribution strategies, navigating the festival circuit—and working with lawyers, agents, managers and sales agents and deciphering the business, psychological, and human elements of producing. Course work includes written and oral assignments, presentations, and assignments based on invited filmmakers and industry guests. Conference projects may include producing a film or media project by a student in another filmmaking production class at Sarah Lawrence, a case study or body of work analysis from the producer perspective, or the development and preproduction of a proposed future “virtual” film or video project.
First-Year Studies in Printmaking
This course introduces the student to the basic fundamentals and concepts of printing in an environment that practices newly developed, nontoxic, printmaking methodologies. Participants will learn how to develop an image (either hand-drawn or computer-generated), how to transfer the image to paper, edition printing, and presentation. Students will utilize the tools, materials, and equipment required to produce a print in a variety of media, including intaglio, silkscreen, and relief prints. Written assignments, assigned readings, and exercises in color and color relationships will also be included in the content of this class, along with a series of visiting artists and trips to museums and professional printmaking ateliers.
Drawing: Seeing in Reverse
Drawing is an endlessly exciting art form that encourages experimentation and embraces mistakes. It’s a reflection of how we think visually on paper. This will be a highly creative, rigorous course that will challenge you to think about the medium of drawing in new and transformative ways. In the fall semester, you will learn about tools and techniques of observational drawing and how to translate onto paper, with accuracy, what you see of the visible world. In the spring semester, we will make more open-ended, experimental, idea-based drawings. Our subjects will include the human figure, space, memory, portraiture, time, text, installation, collage, imagination, collaboration, color, and humor. Permeating all of this will be our investigation into ways of introducing content into your work: What will your drawings be about? Through varied, in-depth projects, you will gain a greater understanding of the techniques of drawing and will learn to combine ideas and mediums in personal, thought-provoking ways. Studio practice will be reinforced through discussion, written work, readings, slides, and museum visits. Visiting artists and studio visits with artists in New York City will be scheduled.
Third Screen: Playable Media for Mobile Devices
This yearlong class will guide beginning developers through design and production for mobile tablets, including art games, interactive movies, experimental media, playable anime, electronic books, and smart slideshows. The year is divided into five sequences: Studio One: tech bootcamp, mini-projects and tutorials; Studio Two: interface design, narrative strategy, mechanics, interaction design, responsive environment, and early project prototyping; Studio Three: creation of media assets, plans for managing and persisting data, and early code builds or project alphas; Studio Four: final build (beta) and play testing; and Studio Five: creation of surrounding materials and the possible release of finished applications to the Google Play marketplace. Students will be required to attend two additional tech workshops early in September: Workshop One: Corona Engine and Android software development kit; Workshop Two: Box2d Physics Library. The best qualification for the class is a good idea for an interactive project; no programming or design experience is necessary. Kindle Fires and Nexus 7s will be provided for testing. The class will meet once a week for four hours. Permission of the instructor is required.
From environmentally powered drawings to computer vision and motors, drawing machines serve as a vehicle to visualize the energy patterns in the world around us in new and interesting ways. In this class, we will examine drawing machines from the perspective of the hacker and the inventor, applying technical and nontechnical tools alike to create emergent behaviors in our work. The class will begin with a survey of practitioners within the field of process-oriented art and evolve into an exploration of basic interactive circuitry and programming. We will spend a significant amount of time learning how to build projects with the Arduino microcontroller platform. A series of in-class prototyping workshops will introduce students to a variety of materials and building strategies, while outside-of-class assignments will build upon each week’s explorations into generative art-making techniques. In addition to regular class meetings and conferences, students will be expected to participate in weekly group workshops that will facilitate skill sharing and group problem solving. Experimentation and learning through concerted effort will be paramount.
Kinetic Sculpture with Arduino
Sculpture is as much about motion as it is about materials. Whether a piece resists the stressors of its environment or actively responds to them, our relation to three-dimensional artwork depends upon both the implied motion of static forms and their kinetic aspects. In this class, we will utilize circuitry and interactive electronics to create sculptures that move and have the ability to respond to their audience and environment. We will utilize the Arduino microcontroller platform and learn about the basics of motor control, sensors, and programming. Prior programming and electronics experience is not required, but an interest in emerging media tools will be a useful asset. We will study artists working within the field, referencing and building upon existing work in the process of developing our own ideas. Through hands-on prototyping, testing, and finishing, we will grow our skill sets and become increasingly adept at navigating the junction between concept and feasibility.
Beginning Painting: Form and Color
This course is an introduction to painting in acrylics and oils. In the first semester, the class assignments focus on abstraction in combination with color theory and color mixing. Drawing will be an integral part of the course: in the first semester, learning to work from observation of everyday objects; in the second semester, from the figure. Each assignment will call upon the student to make decisions in order to complete the project in a creative manner. There will be regular class discussions on the progress of the work, as well as visual presentations on art history and individual artists. The conference work will begin with drawing in a sketchbook and with individually assigned readings on art. The final conference project will be a large painting. This will be developed from the drawings and from the progress made in the student’s understanding of painting as a process. The student will be required to work in the studio, in addition to the class periods, in order to complete the assigned painting and conference work. The goal of this course is to become confident in one’s painting ability and to develop a visual vocabulary. The student will be required to take two workshops: one in Photoshop; the other, the choice of the individual. Open to both the student who is new to painting and the student who has had prior art-making experience.
Contemporary Painting I: Studio Practice
This course emphasizes the role of technique, style, color, and composition in the practice of painting. A series of explorative assignments in oil or acrylic will challenge students to resolve problems of composition and narrative based on a broad scope of references and material investigations. Working in small series, tactical approaches will include painting from observation, imagination, and print and digital media. Abstraction and nonconventional materials are welcome and encouraged. Students will be required to maintain a sketchbook/image archive throughout the course and to develop final conference projects based on historical and contemporary art research as it relates to the student’s personal sensibility. Additionally, this course will provide ongoing exposure to historical and contemporary painting models through slideshows, videos, reading assignments, visiting artists, workshops, and field trips. Open to students who have had painting courses at a college or advanced high-school level.
Contemporary Painting II: Discourse and Practice
This intermediate painting course addresses the relationship of form and content in the expanded field of contemporary painting. A series of open-ended painting assignments will provide parameters within which students may navigate their personal interests, focus criteria, and deepen their technical practices. Projects will include observational and media-based image sourcing, composite spaces, abstraction, collaboration, stylistic homages, and fictional portraiture. Students may work in oil or acrylic; nonconventional materials are also welcome. A sketchbook practice is required for collecting source material, developing imagery, research, and class notes. Final conference projects will be grounded in independent research as it relates to the student’s personal sensibility. In addition to studio production, students will investigate the historical and contemporary relevance of their work through readings, slideshows, and presentations. Critical and communication skills related to painting will be developed through critique and group discussions. Visiting artists, workshops, and field trips will be integrated into the course curriculum to enrich the painting process. Open to students who have had painting courses at a college or advanced high-school level.
Advanced Painting I
Class discussions, critiques and readings on art history and contemporary art will aid students who want to further develop their ideas in painting in developing a context for their work. We will be painting with acrylics (the commercial brands), and you will learn to make your own paint by using water-dispersed pigments and a variety of polymer emulsions with different properties. This will encourage experimentation with the painting media and aid painters in integrating the process of painting their ideas. There will be two required workshops: one in PhotoShop; one in photography. Students will produce drawings from their digital work as a preliminary step for their paintings. This course requires the student to work independently in the studio. Please bring a visual documentation of your recent painting to the interview. Completion of one college-level painting class is required.
Advanced Painting II
Open to students who want to further develop their skill and thinking in painting, this course focuses on introducing a variety of water-based painting techniques and on building painting structures and surfaces other than canvas. The student will be required to attend two workshops: one in woodworking; one in digital printing. We will be painting with acrylics, using the commercial brands; we also will be making our own paint by using water-dispersed pigments and a variety of polymer emulsions with different properties. This will encourage experimentation. Class discussions, critiques, and readings on art history and contemporary painting will aid students in developing context for their work. This course requires students to work independently in the studio and to maintain their own working momentum. Please bring a visual documentation of your recent paintings to the interview. Completion of one college-level painting class is required.
Basic Color Photography
This course concentrates on the technique and aesthetics of color photography using traditional (analog) methods. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the very nature of a color photograph. Students will use color film and print color photographs in the darkroom; they will explore “color seeing.” Readings in the history of photography will be part of the course work. Permission of the instructor is required.
Basic Analog Black-and-White Photography
This is an analog, film-based course that introduces the fundamentals of black-and-white photography: acquisition of photographic technique, development of personal vision and artistic expression, and discussion of photographic history and contemporary practice. Reviews are designed to strengthen the understanding of the creative process, while assignments will stress photographic aesthetics and formal concerns. Conference work entails research into historical movements and individual artists’ working methods through slide presentations. Throughout the year, students are encouraged to make frequent visits to gallery and museum exhibitions and share their impressions with the class. The relationship of photography to liberal arts also will be emphasized. Students will develop and complete their own bodies of work as the culmination of their study. This is not a digital photography course. Students need to have at least a 35mm film camera and be able to purchase film and gelatin silver paper throughout the year.
This wildly explorative class will investigate the potentials of black-and-white photography, color photography, and the assimilation of the two. The history of the photographic medium will be explored. Editing, sequencing, and output size will be introduced to students through bibliomaniac explorations and gallery/museum visits. Students are welcome to use either analog or digital. The development of a personal vision, based upon a personal set of interests and/or beliefs, will be at the core of this experience.
This is a rigorous studio course in which students will produce a body of work while studying relevant artistic and photographic precedents. A working knowledge of photographic history and contemporary practice is a prerequisite, as is previous art or photographic work that indicates readiness for the advanced questions presented by this course.
In the past, the book was used solely as a container of the written word. More recently, however, the book has emerged as a popular format for visual expression. Students will begin this course by learning to make historical book forms from various cultures (Coptic, codex, accordion, and Japanese-bound) so that they will be able to see the book with which we are familiar in a new and wider context. From there, students will apply newly learned techniques and skills, from computer-generated and manipulated imagery to the production of nontraditional artist books. The course will also cover all aspects of letterpress printing, including setting type, using the press, and making and printing with polymer plates. Whether text, images, or a combination of the two is employed, emphasis will be placed on the creation of books as visual objects. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have previously taken a visual arts course.
This course offers an opportunity for an in-depth study of advanced printmaking techniques. Students will be encouraged to master traditional skills and techniques so that familiarity with process will lead to the development of a personal and meaningful body of work. The course will also cover all aspects of letterpress printing, enabling participants to incorporate text into their conference work, if so desired.
Concepts in Sculpture
What is sculpture? How do we make it? How do we talk about it? What does it mean? This is a yearlong course that invites students to investigate fundamental-to-advanced concepts in sculpture. Students will gain a greater understanding of technique, materials, and process, with a specific emphasis on the integration of larger social, political, and aesthetic concerns and how to address them in the work. As the course progresses, students will have the opportunity to work in digital and experimental media. The course will cover the period from the late 20th century to the present. There will be regular presentations, assigned projects, and trips to galleries and museums. At the completion of each project, there will be a group critique where feedback is offered and process explored. Experimentation and personal expression are highly encouraged. Experience working three-dimentionally is welcome but, not required. Please bring examples of previous work to the interview.
Sustainable Architecture Studio Lab
The design of the built environment is the area of human endeavour that has one of the largest impacts on the environment. Buildings consume vast amounts of natural resources during their construction and subsequent operation. They constitute primary energy consumption and demand the exploitation of natural resources to supply the materials. In use, building emissions add to global warming, damage the environment, and create waste-disposal problems. Buildings can also cause ill health and discomfort for their occupants due to poor air quality and inadequate internal conditions. This course will examine a range of issues associated with sustainable architecture, including energy consumption, use of materials, health and environmental concerns, and how these issues impact the design of built space. We do this through a studio lab context, where we will investigate current strategies for incorporating sustainability into design. This will include examining the Heimbold Visual Arts Center and the strategies used in creating its award-winning “green” building status. Through our own research and designs, we will learn how to identify and integrate environmental concerns into design practice. We will learn the basic language of drawing architectural space and the mechanics of designing within that language. This will include traditional architectural drawing and the use of 3-D design software. Our work will rely on drawing, writing, and oral and graphic presentation skills. Students will work on short and longer projects in an individual and group context. Experience in drawing and/or 3-D computer graphics is helpful.
Things and Beyond
This course will explore the possibilities for creative production inspired by a range of inquiries, including readings, discussions, critiques, looking at the work of contemporary artists, and observing the work of students in the class as their work unfolds. We will be reading a range of texts, as well as making museum and/or gallery visit(s). In doing so, we will consider different ways of thinking about art, which will lead us to consider different ways of thinking about ourselves, what we encounter, and what we produce as a result of an encounter. We will explore concepts as ways of discovering different subjectivities and situations in which art can become. We will take a global perspective in looking at contemporary art. The course will experiment with the ways in which texts, images, discussions, and activity can alter one’s inner landscape, enabling different kinds of (art) work to emerge. This is predominantly a studio course that will incorporate a range of activities in conjunction with studio work. We will encounter materials such as cardboard, wood, metal, plaster, and digital media, with technical support provided in the handling of these media. Experience in the visual, performative, industrial, and/or digital arts is helpful. For the interview, students are encouraged to bring images of work done in any of the previously mentioned practices. Permission of the instructor is required.
Machines As Material
This course will treat machines as both subject matter and physical material with which to produce works of art. While we may begin by thinking about machines as discrete functional objects, the course will attempt to expand the definition and potential of machines in art practice. A coffeemaker might be a machine, but so might an entire building, a language, a culture. How are machines ideological, and how can ideologies function as machines? How does the mechanical confirm or contest the human? What metaphors, implied or imagined, can we uncover in a close examination of devices? These questions will fuel our investigations in the studio and be addressed through discussion, screening, and reading that ranges across disciplines. In consultation with the instructor, students will select a machine to act as a creative motor for a series of studio projects. The course will encourage and support students who wish to directly modify or otherwise hack their machines—thereby incorporating elements of physical computing, electronics, and/or computer programming—but our investigations may also integrate or otherwise approach machines with more traditional materials.
Digital Imaging Techniques
This course will cover contemporary digital practice, with an emphasis on Photoshop skills and imaging techniques from scanning to printing. Students will learn proper digital workflow, along with the basics of image manipulation tools, color correction, and retouching. The broader classroom discussion will emphasize computer-generated and -manipulated imagery as a new paradigm in contemporary art, photography, and culture in general. Through independent projects, students will be encouraged to explore the potential of digital tools in the context of their personal work—visual arts-related or otherwise—stressing open-ended visual possibilities, as well as technical and conceptual rigor.
Design grows out of a need for meaningful order in our lives. In art, as well as in nature, our perception and understanding of order relies on the ability to perceive qualities and relationships that extend beyond the mere sum of a group of parts. The word “design” indicates both the process of organizing elements and the products of that process. Through clearly defined problems and laboratory exercises, this course will examine the principles, strategies, and applications essential to an understanding of visual order within any two-dimensional framework. The course will concentrate on structures, concepts, and relationships common to an understanding of, and control over, visual vocabulary. Line and form, texture and pattern, space and continuity, presentation and format, repetition and rhythm, color and context, composition and gestalt, unity and variety are some of the issues to be explored.
Color is a primordial idea. It is life, and a world without color would appear dead to us. Nothing affects our entire being more dramatically than color. The children of light, colors reveal the richness and fullness of all that surrounds us. Color soothes us and excites us, changing our outlook, our dreams, our desires, and our environment. Using a variety of methods and materials, this course will focus on an exploration of color agents and their effects. Not a painting course, instead this class will explore basic color theory, perception and the aesthetic, and physiological and psychological relationships between color in application and in use.
A dialogue with peers working in a variety of disciplines, this course is designed for experienced visual arts students. It is a forum to share and discuss critical, creative, intellectual strategies and processes while building, nurturing, and sustaining an independent point of view. Each participant will be expected to focus on growing the values, commitments, and attitudes embedded in his or her own body of work and ideas. Experimentation, innovation, and uniqueness of vision will be encouraged, along with habits of discipline necessary to support all creative endeavors. Readings and discussion of art and cultural history are an important part of the weekly course work. Open to juniors and seniors with prior visual art experience.