Course Lists

General Fine Arts Course List

Take a look at titles and descriptions for the General Fine Arts department's courses offered.

FA 498 Senior Thesis I

Seniors are given assistance in developing personal directions as artists. Work is independent, either at home or in a designated studio. The senior independent or thesis program offers qualified students an opportunity to work on a continuing series of projects of their own choice in studio spaces provided in campus buildings. Requirements: at least three individual critiques with a participating instructor, a final critique with a visiting artist, and a midterm review by a panel of the program’s instructors. In addition to the regular individual and class critiques in each student’s studio art courses, progress is evaluated by visiting artists, critics, writers, philosophers, and filmmakers, and by various faculty members from different departments, with reviews of student work twice each semester.

Senior level Drawing, General Fine Arts, or Painting majors only

FA 499 Senior Thesis II

A continuation of FA 498 into a consecutive second semester.

Prerequisite: FA 498

GFA 220 Introduction to GFA

This core course is designed to help students explore their artistic vision and begin to plan the way they would like to construct their own version of the general fine arts major. New GFA majors are assisted in forging a personal approach to visual exploration and expression. Virtually all media are acceptable. This course is strong on personal attention via frequent one-on-one discussions.

Prerequisite: Earned credit or concurrent enrollment in DR 252 or DR 298

GFA 225 Art of the Giant Monster

The art of the giant monster movie has been broadly regarded as lowbrow, niche, and campy. Deeper investigation though reveals this form of cinema to be rich with metaphor, historical analogs, cultural and sociological contexts that span one side of the globe to the other. These films embrace the act of making, problem solving, creativity and a unique form of story telling that holds strong relevance in the contemporary art world. Through film screening, studio based assignments, research and critique: special attention will be paid to these works through the lens or fine art, particularly sculpture, performance, symbolism, scale-shift, illusion, and invention.

GFA 232 Photo as Muse

This course emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to art making by exploring ways in which contemporary artists use photography as part of their process as in works by Elizabeth Peyton, Marlene Dumas, Gregory Crewdson, Angela Strassheim, Sara Van Der Beek, Oliver Herring, Robert Melee, and Peter Piller. Over the course of the semester, students discuss artists that paint and draw from their photographs as well as artists that use photography to document performances such as temporal sculptures, body art, and narrative stage-sets. The course examines artists that use photography in collage and installation work. Students interested in a range of materials and processes investigate the role of photography in their process while developing a personal body of work.

Prerequisite: FF 162

GFA 235 Papercuts 2D to 3D

Paper has been folded, cut and pasted for centuries all over the world. One of the earliest known paper cuttings is from China and dates back to 960 AD! Some areas explored will be papel picado (perforated paper), silhouettes, paper engineering, sculptural structures, installation, led lights, 3D book structures, pop ups, shadow puppets, 3 dimensional theaters, and collage. This course explores a variety of inventive contemporary paper forms with a look back to traditional paper cuts from history. Learning the potential of paper through discovery of folds, rips, tears, and over-cuts will lead to personal exploration.

GFA 245 Performance

Students are introduced to the basic principles of using the body in time and space in relation to an audience in order to convey meaning. Students gain a perceptual understanding of the history of performance art through readings, film and video, and will develop the vocabulary with which to discuss and critique performances. Exercises help students explore the use of the body in space and time, along with the use of materials in order to create meaning and content. Students may work with autobiographical material, dreams, text and personas, as well as visual and sound elements.

GFA 250 Water

Humans are fundamentally connected to water. On an individual level and as a civilization water permeates all aspects of our lives. This course is an opportunity for students from majors to deepen their understanding of water and to apply their developing skills as artist to this subject. Through readings, film, guest lectures and field trips we will immerse ourselves in the science, history and esthetics of water. It is also an overview of how historical and contemporary artists have approached water as a subject in their work. Students focus on their current relationship with water and how rapidly changing climate is resulting in a massive redistribution of this substance. The impacts of drought, sea level rise, storm intensity and polar ice melt are rapidly becoming major factors shaping our lives.

GFA 259 Hands-on Ideation

Innovations have provided artist with new way to express themselves for centuries, from early optics to today's digital technologies. In this interdisciplinary course, students reimagine their current studio practice by leveraging technology to quickly explore new processes with an emphasis on pushing into new artistic territory while establishing a fluid dialogue between digital and analog methods of art making. Students combine drawing, painting, hand building with digital tools such as the Adobe Creative Suite, time-based media, laser cutting, vinyl cutting, 3D printing, digital embroidering, etc. Presentations introduce new topics and examine how technology affects our understanding of space and material, modes of production, and contemporary art practices. Also, students examine how digital imaging and fabrication technology is aiding artists to create in new ways-looking at Eric Standley, Blair Martin Cahill, Aaron Koblin, McArthur Freeman, Julie Mehretu and the experimental architecture and design studio, Minimaforms.

Prerequisite: FF 111 or FF 112

GFA 270 Collage & Assemblage

Collage has been described as the primary medium of the 20th century. The multi-layering of images and materials reflect the cultural and technological flux of the modern age. This mixed-media course explores the 2D and 3D possibilities of working with collage and assemblage. Course content examines the formal narrative and conceptual issues of the collage process and form. Weekly slide lectures and materials examine artists working within these media. Students are encouraged to develop a personal direction.

GFA 275 Mining Culture

As artists we are part of an evolving world culture. This course helps students see the common denominators as well as the differences in various cultures and apply those insights to their own work. By investigating certain patterns/aspects of human behavior (e.g., death, marriage, celebrity) students expand their thinking about their work and how it communicates in the larger context. Students may work in any media/genre and complete four works over the semester.

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors only

GFA 276 Mining "Home"

Upon meeting someone new, among the first things we ask are "where are you from; where do you call home"? We ask because we feel the answer will tell us something important about this [/a] person's identity. Whether it is your parents' house halfway around the world, the third double-wide in the trailer park or the classroom from your after-school program, the word "home" can represent a lot to different people. Explore the concept of place or home in weekly assignment using various mediums in an interdisciplinary studio environment. Students from diverse backgrounds and locations will bring their own skill sets to the class to investigate the idea of "home".

GFA 305 Mixed Media Book

This course focuses on a variety of contemporary book forms and emphasizes the freedom to develop the content within. Structures are created by experimenting with scale from the small and intimate to the large and expressive, to the sculptural, with a look at installation. Students also create with a variety of materials, exploring the relationship between the book form and materials selected. Some areas explored include trace mono-prints, contemporary paper cutting, wet and dry media, embroidery drawing, alternative surfaces, and dipped paper encaustics for transparent books.

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors only

GFA 307 Cultural Perspectives

As the world increasingly connects, this studio class introduces students to a culturally diverse group of artists, curators, critics, and more. Students will learn of and research artists of varied backgrounds, while exploring current issues such as ethnicity, race, class, gender, and identity all within global context. Developing a body of work over the semester is critical and contributes to the course dialogue. Research findings will inform the topics and presentations for allotted weekly discussion. In class and out of class working is expected. Visiting artists bringing their unique perspectives will join the class for reviews and critique sessions. This course is open to all media.

GFA 310 Personal Ideas

Aimed at developing conceptual and philosophical ideas in each individual’s work. A range of thoughts in different disciplines from science to religion and literature is discussed to provoke deeper exploration into individual points of view. In-class work facilitates exploration of the day’s topic and students work in any medium.

Prerequisite: FF 162

GFA 312 Visual Commentary

Throughout history some of the most eloquent responses to events of the times were images. From Goya and Daumier to Sue Coe and Mel Chin, artists have shown the significance of events in ways that words can't. Beyond just illuminating important relationships and power structures, art points to significance on an emotional level and reveals what it's like to be alive in this time. Each class will begin with a discussion of the week's events, linking them to ongoing issues and looking at ways that our different backgrounds and personal life story influence the way we view current events. Class time will be used to develop a piece based on the discussion which will be discussed at the end. Out of class time is devoted to completing a series on an area of particular interest.

GFA 320 GFA Junior Independent

Students are assisted in developing a personal direction in any fine arts medium or combination of media. This course provides the opportunity to explore the initiation of a sustained body of work in preparation for the senior independent program. Attendance at all critiques and at least 12 hours of committed effort per week are mandatory. Instruction through regularly scheduled individual and group critiques.

Junior level General Fine Arts majors only

GFA 332 Moving Pictures

Visual comparison of cinema with other visual arts media with emphasis on how each medium treats space, light, time and storytelling. Frequent critiques of student's individualized visual responses to the ideas presented in the class. Wide exploration of form and medium are encouraged.

GFA 336 Inventions and Visions

This course allows students to test their creativity through a variety of exciting challenges. Students play inventor, artist, or visionary as they create unconventional solutions to the commonplace. New problems are introduced in class on a two or three week interval. There are demonstrations and critiques of the results each day the solutions are due. Problems can be approached in two- or three-dimensional solutions. Some problems might include: designing a better mouse trap, building a bird house, inventing a machine for making art, making a kite, making plans for a robot, and so on.

GFA 340 Themes & Narrative

Explores a variety of approaches to dealing with the narrative using the students choice of medium to develop a series of work revolving around a single narrative theme. Students also explore the many aspects of visual storytelling while learning to use numerous skills and pictorial devices; and work in studio in a concentrated block of the class and a smaller portion reserved for lectures, slide shows, selections from cinema and intensive critique.

Prerequisite: FF 199 or FF 162, and 3.00 credits of an additional Drawing course

GFA 343 Climate Change, Sustainability

Our climate is rapidly changing due to the effects of human industry. Climate change is presenting the global society with the necessity for new criteria of industrial and social production. How will this include the production of art and design? The goal of this course is to present students with the challenge to examine, investigate, confront, and potentially apply what these criteria are. This course focuses on the theoretical, practical, and aesthetic issues of sustainability. Beginning with an overview of the history of the science of climate change, students look at global movements responding to this event. Students who are considering entering some aspect of this field are welcome as well as those who are seeking to extend their art practice to address the many issues encountered in the massive change toward global sustainability.

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors only

GFA 345 North Ave Forum

This course creates a forum for students to engage with the historical and contemporary conditions that are present in the neighborhoods adjacent to North Avenue. This conversation takes place in the immediate conditions surrounding the death of Freddie Gray and trials of the six Baltimore City Police officers. This course is a living social practice forum where participants speak about their particular viewpoint. The goal is to create a conversation that benefits everyone that is involved. Students act as active organizers/documenters/communicators of this forum. As a class, students develop a visual and creative strategy to communicate the issues encountered. This course embraces as wide a spectrum from the North Avenue community as possible, including but not limited to: residents, activists, community organizers, artists, business owners, political representatives, Baltimore City police, developers, health services (particularly addiction counseling/harm reduction).

GFA 365 Schizodesign

This course is an opportunity for students to be engaged in an experimental research practice that focuses on understanding and solving challenges facing Baltimore City by investigating and developing new artistic processes and material outputs. Guided by concepts like metamodelization and schizoanalysis, this course looks to processes of examining the social, psychic, and scientific models currently in place, then recombining or replacing these models with something that might work better. Students are focused on multiple threads of a central social challenge: the economic crisis and its impact on employment in Baltimore City. The class location methodology can be seen as an assemblage of the Situationist International’s subversive “derives” and Colin Wards ideology of “street work” — using the urban environment as a resource for learning, which integrates a community based program of decision-making on local urban issues.

Prerequisite: FF 162

GFA 372 Personal Direction

Students will explore sources for the ideas expressed in their work by examining their personal history and artistic identity. Topics common to artists throughout the history of art range from psychological and philosophical to scientific and mythic. These will be presented to encourage deeper exploration into individual points of view. This course is appropriate for the Intermediate/Advanced level student who has developed a personal direction or the student who is making the transition from assignment based courses to independent personal based work. There will be weekly slide lectures, discussions or museum visits and regular group adn individual crits. An inner disciplinary course, there are no restrictions on medium, form or imagery.

GFA 385 Art in Context

In the contemporary art world, artists are not only responsible for making work, but for providing or seeking out the context for their work. This course takes a comprehensive look at the practices of contemporary artists, how artists working today relate to one another, and historical models of art making. The first half of each class focuses on readings, lectures/presentations and discussions; the second half is concerned with group critiques of student's individual work, and sometimes, assignments studio work. The idea is to present and explore a holistic picture of what it means to an artist today.

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors only

GFA 390 Response to Cinema

From its start, cinema has influenced and been influenced by the other art forms, from literature, painting, photography, illustration, and the comics through costume design, fashion design, stage set design, graphic design, and performance art. This course invites students from all disciplines to enter this relationship via their own independent works in media of their own choosing. For inspiration, movie imagery is studied via movie clips in tightly structured class meetings. The course includes many clips from classic and foreign movies, including European, South American, Asian, and Icelandic.

Prerequisite: FF 162

GFA 393 Watercolor Technique

Introduces basic and advanced techniques of watercolor as applied in a variety of disciplines. Emphasis is given to the handling of wash area and brush strokes in experimental and traditional ways, color mixing, and uses and representation of volume spaces.

GFA 405 Phenomena of Color

In this advanced color course, the phenomenological workings of color is taught thoroughly and in depth, using Joseph Albers' text, "Interaction of Color." This intensive course of study is augmented by other sources such as "The Art of Color" by Johannes Itten, as well as a wide range of texts on color theory. Students develop a greater sense of color action, a better grasp of color theory, and a strong foundation to improve the use of color in their respective creative work, whatever their chosen medium. Students conduct research on a related topic of their choosing and give a presentation.

Juniors, Seniors, Post-Baccalaureate, and Graduate level students only

GFA 460 Special Projects

Variations of this course will engage students and faculty in focused project work based upon partnerships and/or topical research in conjunction with studio output.