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Art History Courses

Studio Art Courses

Art History courses

ARTX 145 Global Art Exchange This survey course focuses on painting, sculpture, manuscripts, and architecture produced in the Christian and Islamic worlds from the 12th through 17th century. We will consider the visual cultures of cosmopolitan cities such as Paris, Isfahan, Venice, and Constantinople, which were centers of power as well as points of exchange. Throughout the course, we will think about how objects structured both religious practices and complex relations between different social groups. Major goals of the course include honing skills in looking critically and using art historical terms to interpret works of art. This course counts as a Breadth course.
ARTX 150 Understanding Abstraction Artistic revolutions from the 17th through the 20th centuries in the East and West caused radical visual and institutional transformation. This course surveys the development of modern art from a global perspective, tracing the influence of East and West upon one another from the Rococo to the Neoclassical, from Romanticism to Realism, to Cubism, Expressionism, and Postmodernism. We will examine how artists interpret the world around them and how these interpretations change over time. This course counts as a Breadth course.
ARTX 160 Art, Power, and Society This course provides an introduction to visual methodologies and to visual analysis. In other words, in this course we will learn how to read the visual world around us through art, how to think critically about how it is presented and how we engage with it, and to articulate our interpretations of this visual world through writing and discussion. Students will work on a quarter long inquiry project as well as steps of writing for visual analysis. Offered annually in Spring.
ARTX 195 Intro to Asian American Art What does it mean to negotiate, and even perhaps reject, the terms of, in Yen Le Espiritu's words, "differential inclusion" How do Asian American artists navigate the boundaries of "Asian American art" and how do they trouble the hegemonic relationship between "dominant" and "minority" cultures? This class examines both the role of Asian American artists, as well as depictions of Asian Americans throughout U.S. history, in order to explore the Asian American aesthetics and political subjectivities. The course counts as a Breadth course.
ARTX 208 Introduction to Greek Art and Archaeology This introduction to the multidisciplinary field of Greek archaeology examines the art and architecture of the Greek world from a contextual perspective. The course traces Greek material culture from Bronze Age origins through Hellenistic transformations. (This is a designated Greek literature or culture course in Classics.) This course counts as a Breadth course.
ARTX 209 Introduction to Roman Art and Archaeology This introduction to the multidisciplinary field of Roman archaeology examines the art and architecture of the Roman world from a contextual perspective. The course traces Roman material culture from Iron Age and Etruscan origins through Early Christian transformations. (This is a designated Roman literature or culture course in Classics.) This course counts as a Breadth course.
ARTX 210 New Media Art History This course examines the recent history of new media art, a broad genre at the intersection of art and technology, as an open-ended series of connections spanning multiple theories, histories, and geographies. Focused on works by BIPOC, LGBTQI, and women artists, the course embraces new media art's fluid, transdisciplinary, nonlinear, and multimodal characteristics. We will examine the genre's inherent ties to advancements in technology; how artists respond by challenging those technologies and their impact on our lives, societies, and the environment; and the use of new media as tools for subversion, critique, activism, and the construction of imagined futures. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 211 Architecture Urbanism Identity The design of interior and exterior environments reflect ideal and imagined futures. Architectural sites and spaces shape personal interaction, national identities, and global aspirations. This course surveys architects, designers, and city planners of the 20th and 21st centuries, who have shaped our built environment from the minute detail of the residential floor-plan to the creation of entirely new cities built wholesale from scratch. Moving from Chicago and Paris to Seoul and Kalamazoo, we will explore how architectural design has responded to the fundamental questions and shifting conditions of modern communities: how and where will we live, work, learn and play? This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 215 A History of Photography Photography was invented at two different geographic locations more or less simultaneously, which coincided with the rise of the modern political state and the industrial revolution in Western Europe. This course is a survey of that medium, and its cultural implications, from the beginning in France and England in the early 19th century, through the modern era of the 20th century, to touch upon conceptual, postmodern, and contemporary trends. This course counts as a Breadth course.
ARTX 224 The 1960S Painting, sculpture, architecture, performance, and installation art from approximately 1945 to the present day. The emphasis will be on examining the visual arts of this period from both a formal and socio-historical standpoint, using primary texts such as artist manifestos and the writings of critics to help guide an understanding of the visual. In the process, we will seek to better understand how the terms "modern," "postmodern," and "global," were expressed, evaluated, defined and shaped in the visual arts during the latter half of the 20th century. This course counts as a Breadth course.
ARTX 225 Public Art and Its Publics Public art has been the source of much commentary and controversy. After all, to call an artwork "public" is to suggest that it belongs to everyone, and thus that anyone might have a say in it. But what makes an artwork public? This course is an opportunity to reflect on this and other related questions, as we explore shifting conceptions of public art practice in the United States, primarily, from the 18th century to the present day. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 227 Modern Art Museum This course addresses the ideological aims and critical functions of art museums, from the 19th century to the present day. Course topics include: the origins of the modern art museum, the politics of collecting and exhibiting art, the ethics of collecting practices, and the relationship between art history and the museum. Case studies of curators and artists who have pushed the boundaries of traditional museum display will be used to examine how the relationship between objects, artists, and institutions has changed over time. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 229 Frozen in Time: the Ancient City of Pompeii Since its discovery in the 1700s, Pompeii has captured the popular imagination as a city frozen in time. Centuries of nearly uninterrupted excavation have made astonishing discoveries that allow us to paint a vivid picture of Roman life in the first centuries BCE and CE. In this course we will explore the material, visual, and architectural remains of the city to reconstruct the lives of its inhabitants. We will enhance our understanding of these topics by considering their connection to current debates on cultural identity, ethnic diversity and social inequality. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 235 Devotional Stuff Skin. Blood. Bone. Dirt. Electricity. This course explores how religion is more about bodies, objects, and stuff than doctrine or belief. We examine how gods, spirits, and the dead become really present to devotees, how they are efficacious and animated. From skeletons and relics, to shrines and food, materiality is central to how people interact with and make the sacred. Not separate from the messy realms of everyday life, religion is often erotic, practiced in kitchens, and reliant on technologies. This course will introduce students to the study of material culture, sensation, and embodiment, to explore how things make us as much as we make things. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 290 Art and Gender This course explores the intersection of visual culture and gender through the lens of critical theory. We will examine how gender has been constructed both in and through the visual arts historically as well as in the present through various interrelated topics such as the myth of the artist; the gaze, the voyeur, and desire; the gendered body in visual art; and the gendered body's intersection with race, class, and sexual orientation. May be offered by visiting instructors. Instructor to determine Topics of Breadth based on focus of course.
ARTX 295 Contemporary African Art In this course, students will gain familiarity with African material culture and artists, and with broad historical trajectories and major discourses in the field of African art history; develop fluency in formally analyzing and interpreting works of African art in relation to specific historical contexts; and build skills in close reading of texts and images. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 295 Afro-Latin American Art This introductory and interdisciplinary course in Art History discusses the visual representation and production of the African Diaspora and African descendants in Latin America, which have been marginalized for a long time. Historical, political, and cultural concepts of race will be discussed regarding part and ongoing decolonial efforts and resistance from the 16th century. We follow a chronological order from colonial to contemporary times and touch upon the legacies of colonialism, slavery, resistance and rebellion, nationalism, and mestizaje. This courses counts as a Breadth course.
ARTX 345 Performance Art This course examines the history of performance art in the 20th and 21st centuries, with an emphasis on the political and aesthetic interventions of the body in visual art and visual culture, as well as the relationship between performance art, subjectivity, and identity, including queerness, gender, and race. Topics will range from action painting to video performance, dance to sex, and violence to social intervention. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 360 Queer Aesthetics Through in-depth study of contemporary global queer visual art, this course provides an introduction to queer theory as a field through an engagement with more advanced and topical queer theories and artworks that prioritize Black, Indigenous, and People of Color knowledge and world making. This course assumes no prior knowledge of queer theory, but previous experience with critical theory is strongly recommended. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 370 Global Souths and Others This interdisciplinary course draws on queer theory, gender theory, and art history texts that are positioned within dialogues of diaspora, decolonization, transnationalism, and globalization in order to center material that is typically marginalized, obscured, erased, or considered "specialist". This course assumes no prior knowledge of theory in decolonial, diaspora, Global Souths, or gender studies, but some previous exposure to critical theory is strongly recommended. This course counts as a Topics course.
ARTX 491 Ways of Seeing: Methods in Visual Analysis This course begins with a basic but fundamental question: how do we describe what we see? We will explore how philosophers, artists, and critics have grappled with this issue throughout history, seeking to understand the critical issues that can arise when communicating vision in verbal form. Because the practice of art history rests upon translating the expressive content of the visual world into words, a significant component of this class will focus on methodology, writing, and the critical analysis of classic theoretical texts that have formed the approach and structure of the discipline. Art and art history majors should plan to take this course during the fall of their senior year. Offered annually in Fall. ARTX-160 plus one additional Art History course and Senior Standing.

Studio Art courses

ARTX 105 Basic Drawing This course is a study of drawing fundamentals, with emphasis on line, value, and shape organization as instruments of precision and expression. Students planning to major or minor in art should take this course by the spring quarter of the sophomore year.
ARTX 115 Digital Photography The objective of this studio art course is to provide the student working knowledge of, and experience with, the fundamental creative tools used in documentary and fine art photographic practice. We will use digital cameras, optimize with Photoshop, and make archival pigment prints in the Center for New Media. Participants learn to analyze and discuss their work in critiques; discussion will be centered on technical, formal, and conceptual characteristics. We will also discuss subject matter and content and the difference between the two. In this critical "reading" of images, like that of a text, we will explore the basics of visual literacy. A DSLR or mirror-less digital camera is desirable, but not required as students can borrow one from the Center for New Media.
ARTX 125 Ceramics: Wheel Throwing In this course, students explore clay through the use of the potter's wheel, their hands and class discussion. Course content is focused on the role of function in relation to utilitarian wares for sharing and serving food. Individual students will reflect on their personal experiences with food in an attempt to better understand the potential and specific use of pottery forms. Students will also be encouraged to consider new ideas and challenge themselves in regards to form, function and technique, as they develop technical abilities and a broader understanding of the possibilities of clay and pottery forms.
ARTX 128 Painting: Traditional Practices This course is an introduction to traditional oil painting techniques. Students will work directly from life whenever possible and will have the opportunity to work from still life, landscape and the human figure. The course will emphasize working methods that stress critical judgment, mark making, space, color, light and composition from direct observation.
ARTX 134 Sculpture: Object Investigation This hands-on studio course investigates how objects are created, used, transformed and/or combined to make art. Student projects may be fabricated from found objects, wood, paper, fabric, 3D printing, and "non-traditional" materials. Concept-driven assignments ask students to create work that addresses the presence, history, meaning, materiality, and form of objects. Assignments also incorporate fundamentals of three-dimensional design. Discussion and critiques focus on issues prominent in contemporary art. This course includes a series of woodshop trainings outside of class time and is designed to be accessible to non-majors at any point in their academic career and may be of particular interest to students in anthropology, psychology, biology, literature and philosophy, in addition to a major in studio art.
ARTX 200 TV Production Designed for students with significant involvement in producing Kalamazoo College TV productions and production studio work. Students must meet a minimum 30-hour commitment within one term to receive 1/4 unit of credit. Various activities may include: studio equipment operator, producer, director, writer, and talent. There is no limit on how many times a student may repeat the course, but a student may only receive credit for one unit. Cannot be use for the Art History, Studio Art, or Art and Art History majors or minors. Does count towards to Media Studies Concentration.
ARTX 203 Figure Drawing Figure drawing focuses on drawing issues related to working from the nude model while emphasizing proportion, foreshortening, and planar structures of the figure. Students will work from very short poses to extended poses, creating drawings with approaches uniquely designed for drawing the figure. This course continues the process begun in basic drawing of building a solid foundation in drawing skills through observation. Students aim to develop sensitivity to the structure, anatomy and expressive qualities of the human form. Homework is assigned for each class period and there is an evening drawing session on Wednesday nights for the purposes of completing assignments. ARTX-105
ARTX 206 Ceramics: World Pottery World Pottery is a hands-on studio course with significant research and reflection components. Class time will be used to introduce students to a variety of clay bodies and clay-forming techniques from historical and regional perspectives (wheel-throwing will not be taught). Creative assignments ask students to consider and critique the role of cultural exchange and image appropriation within historical ceramics and in their own creative work. Projects will also investigate the roles of different types of pottery within contemporary American society, as a point of reference and departure. Each student will propose, execute, and present a research project. Lectures, critiques, and discussions will focus on individual and societal assumptions about pottery. This course is a Shared Passages Sophomore Seminar. Sophomores Only
ARTX 214 Framing Difference This course will combine research and studio components, split more or less evenly. The research topic, broadly painted, will be fine art documentary practices, grounded with an entry-level hands-on studio component (using digital photography). There are two motivations for this course: to give students creative control of photographic tools (technical, formal, conceptual) prior to their leaving for study away, but also to explore the issues and ethics of documentary photography practice. While the broad research topic is this documentary practice (theory/tradition), this course will place particular emphasis on the ethics of photographing outside of one's own group. This course is a Shared Passages Sophomore Seminar. Sophomores Only.
ARTX 220 Ceramics: Clay in Community Throughout the term, students use clay as a sculptural medium through the use of traditional, exploratory, and experimental hand building techniques. Concepts/topics for creative projects address definitions of space, place, community, and participatory art. Civic engagement sections may include lab hours spent with an off-campus community partner. Civic engagement sections will focus on a specific theme addressing access and equity, as they exist in our own lives and within the greater Kalamazoo community. Technical, contextual, and conceptual considerations specific to ceramics are also covered. Wheel-throwing will not be taught.
ARTX 228 Painting: Contemporary Practices This course is designed for students who have had some previous studio art experience in painting, drawing, or design. Some knowledge of drawing and composition will be expected of students enrolling in this course. Students will learn about modern and contemporary issues in art and will be asked to produce work that investigates some of these themes. The primary medium for the class will be acrylic paint, but students will be encouraged to experiment with mixed media and alternative materials. In addition to technical experimentation students will address complex conceptual issues. Students will have the opportunity to explore a variety of styles and approaches to painting. Must have taken ARTX-105 orARTX-128.
ARTX 230 Analog Photography This course provides students working knowledge of, and experience with, the fundamental creative tools used in fine art photographic practice -using traditional (analog) processing and printing techniques. In addition to producing chemical based photographs, participants learn to analyze and discuss their work in critiques. To inspire and contextualize we will view historical examples from the Daguerreotype to contemporary practice. Assignments will be directed (to make the most of the inherent aspects of traditional analog materials) but open to interpretation. Students interested in pursuing photography at the advanced level are encouraged to take Digital Photography prior to Analog Photography, if possible.
ARTX 233 Printmaking This studio course serves as an introduction to printmaking processes and conceptual language. Students will explore various relief and intaglio techniques. Must have taken ARTX-105
ARTX 234 Sculpture: Structure and Space This mixed-media studio course explores concepts of structure and space as source material and necessary elements in the creation of sculpture and installation art. Assignments incorporate the use of linear and planar art materials, fundamentals of three-dimensional design, concept and critical thinking skills. Materials may include wood, paper, cardboard, wire, string, fabric and/or other non-traditional materials. Material skills are developed through experimentation and exploration, as opposed to technical demonstrations with the exception or a woodshop practicum that takes place during evening and weekend woodshop hours. Readings, discussion and critiques focus on issues prominent in contemporary art. This course is recommended for art majors and non-majors at the sophomore level and above and may be of particular interest to those pursuing studio art, physics, engineering, architecture, sociology and philosophy. Students interested in pursuing sculpture at the advanced level should also take Object Investigation prior to enrolling in Structure and Space, if possible.
ARTX 240 Watercolor This course is an exploration of basic watercolor techniques to help assist students in developing the necessary skills to work independently in this medium. Technical experiments, wash painting,and wet-into-wet techniques teach students to control the medium and layer color. Students learn to work for an extended period of time on one piece, eventually developing their own subject matter and content. Must have taken ARTX-105 or ARTX-128.
ARTX 250 Introduction to Documentary Video Production Designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of documentary filmmaking, this course will cover every aspect of the craft, beginning with pre-production through production and post-production. Students will learn to generate story ideas, interview subjects, transcribe and write scripts, capture and log footage, and edit finished films with music and graphics. Class lectures will prepare students to accomplish every step of the process; students will then work outside of class time to apply the techniques and skills. Students will also watch scenes from films and critique them as to style, content, and narrative structure. Ethical issues pertaining to documentary filmmaking will also be discussed. Equipment will be provided, but students will need to purchase a SDXC card and hard drive.
ARTX 295 Ceramics: Intermediate Wheel Throwing This course will explore the possibilities of personal expression and function in the ceramic medium with a focus on traditional wheel throwing. Hand building and altering techniques will also be covered in challenging new ways. Pottery offers a unique historical and cultural context. Discussions and assignments will reflect on those contexts as well as the value of handmade pottery and the role of object makers in contemporary society. Students enrolling in this course must have taken Artx125 or another college level wheel throwing course. ARTX-125
ARTX 295 Ceramics: Handbuilding and Ekphrasis The overarching theme is "Ekphrasis", meaning to translate one work of art into another using a different material (e.g., writing a poem about a painting). Historically potters have replicated objects traditionally made in other materials; there is a contemporary art trend whereby artists remake and reenact artworks. We will research this inclination, and through our making investigate the allure, the controversy and the substance surrounding reconstructing. Through the use of traditional, exploratory and collaborative techniques we will make functional and sculptural work. Basic clay and glaze technology are covered through concept-based projects addressing form, surface treatment, translation, and appropriation.
ARTX 295 Art and Environmental Justice This collaborative, interdisciplinary course explores connections between contemporary art practices and environmental justice. This pop-up seminar examines how visual artists respond to ecological crises and environmental injustice through various modes of mediation, including installation, performance, and socially-engaged art projects. The course combines readings in art history, critical theory, and environmental studies in conjunction with individual and group studio practice. Participation in site visits and attendance at visiting artist and speaker events are a crucial component of the course. While no prior experience in art is required, this is a jointly-conceived seminar in studio art and art history, so research effort will be manifested through reading, writing, and making. Cross-listed with the Environmental Studies Concentration.
ARTX 301 Advanced Documentary Video Production Advanced Documentary will reinforce skills and explore alternatives to the techniques and aesthetics learned during the Introduction to Documentary course (ARTX-250). Students will be taught a broader repertoire of techniques and skills beyond the introductory level with respect to proposing a story, interviewing subjects, transcribing and writing a script, capturing and logging footage, and editing finished films with music and graphics. Students will individually produce between three and four short documentaries that incorporate every step of the filmmaking process. Class lectures will examine the structure and technique of films; students will then work outside of class time to apply what they have learned. ARTX-250 and sophomore standing or higher, or permission by the instructor.
ARTX 316 Intermediate Photography Having completed varying amounts of photography course work prior to this class, the student will expand their knowledge and skills in Intermediate Photography by working on a combination of prescriptive exercises (mini-assignments) and a significant individual project. Either analog or digital tools may be used to create this small body of work. Critiques will be held and a written component will be due as well (structured reflection and artist statement). An SLR or DSLR camera is required. ARTX-115, ARTX-214, or SEMN-214, or ARTX-230
ARTX 320 Intermediate Ceramics: State of Clay The intermediate levels of Ceramics: Hand Building and Ceramics: Wheel Throwing are taught as one joint course in the same time slot. Concept-based and technical assignments are designed to be accessible and applicable for both sets of students. Assignments help students question what it means to choose clay as a medium while developing a more advanced body of work. Lectures and discussions focus on the expanding role and definition of ceramics within evolution of American ceramics in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Basic clay, glaze and firing technology are covered through a series of technical labs. Offered Spring (odd years) Take two ceramics classes or one plus permission of the instructor
ARTX 327 Intermediate Sculpture: Mold Processes A ceramics and sculpture course focusing on the many techniques of mold-making as a means to create and reproduce forms. Assignments and discussions geared towards the use of multiples and repeated forms in art. Materials include wax, clay, plaster, and non-traditional materials. Take one of ARTX-134, ARTX-234, ARTX-220, or ARTX 295 (Ekphrasis).
ARTX 328 Intermediate Painting This course builds upon the conceptual approach to painting that began in Painting: Contemporary Practices and will emphasize individual direction and innovation. Most assignments will begin with an introduction to a broad contemporary theme in the visual arts and will ask students to respond to an aspect of the topic by generating artwork. The last three weeks will be given over to a series of works that address a topic that the student has a particular interest in investigating. ARTX-228
ARTX 335 Intermediate Sculpture Students may register for Intermediate Sculpture in their junior or senior year, once they have completed at least two other sculpture courses and if Mold Processes is not offered during the term of registration. Individualized projects and assignments build on concepts and skills developed in earlier courses. Emphasis will be placed on portfolio development in preparation for advanced-level work. Intermediate students are required to attend meetings for an introductory course in sculpture throughout the term where they participate in critiques, conduct a research presentation and help mentor lower-level students. Take two courses from ARTX-134, ARTX-234, and ARTX-327.
ARTX 395 Interdisciplinary Studio Workshop Interdisciplinary Studio Workshop is a course for junior studio art majors. This course is similar to an organized collection of independent studies that serves as a bridge between the 100/200-level media specific studio courses and the senior year. Each student will focus in one discipline such as painting, sculpture, ceramics, or photography for the duration of the term (at least one, preferably two classes in the area of focus are expected). The term will have four basic units including 1) material exploration 2) formal relationships 3) concept development and 4) content research. Students will meet one on one with the professor every week and meet as a group for discussion and critique once a week. Prerequisites: Junior Studio Art Major or Minors with permission
ARTX 416 Advanced Photography Taught as a creative and expressive medium from a fine art perspective. The student will continue to expand their knowledge, skills, and experience in the medium by focusing on an individual project for the duration of the term. The student can use either analog or digital tools to create a significant body of work. Critiques will be held and a written component will be due as well (structured reflection and artist statement). An SLR or DSLR camera is required. ARTX-316
ARTX 420 Advanced Ceramics Students may register for Advanced Ceramics in their junior or senior year, once they have completed at least three other ceramics courses. In consultation with the faculty, students develop the content and methodology that they feel fits their own personal objectives as artists. Emphasis will be placed on portfolio development and learning to function as an independent artist. Advanced students are expected to attend meetings for an introductory or intermediate course in ceramics throughout the term where they participate in critiques and help mentor lower-level students. Permission
ARTX 428 Advanced Painting The objective of this course is to help students develop direction in their art and to produce a coherent body of work. Students will be considered independently working artists responsible for developing the content and methodology that they feel fits their own personal objectives as artists. Placing their own work in the context of current trends and art history will help students produce artwork that is both personally satisfying and artistically significant. This course is intended for students who are considering graduate school or a career in studio art. ARTX-328
ARTX 435 Advanced Sculpture Students may register for Advanced Sculpture in their junior or senior year, once they have completed at least 3 other sculpture courses. In consultation with the faculty, students develop the content and methodology that they feel fits their own personal objectives as artists. Emphasis will be placed on portfolio development and learning to function as an independent artist. Advanced students are expected to attend meetings for an introductory or intermediate course in sculpture throughout the term where they participate in critiques and help mentor lower-level students. Permission
ARTX 490 Advanced Studio Advanced Studio is a senior-level Shared Passages Seminar for studio art majors and/or students planning a studio SIP. The many facets to this course are designed to emulate both the SIP process and an independent studio practice and include a) the creation of a body of artwork b) research of topics relevant to your project c) contextualizing your work by deepening your knowledge of contemporary artists/theory in your area of focus and d) participating in professional practice exercises, exhibitions and written work. Students in this course come together, regardless of preferred media, to support and challenge each other as they develop their own contemporary practice. Class time is used for critiques, presentations, discussions and professional exercises and does not usually include open studio time. Senior art majors with at least one 300-level studio art course; non-majors with permission.
ARTX 490 Professional Practices for Studio Artist Professional Practices for Studio Artists is a senior-level Shared Passages Seminar for studio art majors and students who have completed a studio art SIP. The many facets to this course are designed to reflect on your SIP process and emulate the numerous practices involved in being a working artist. Assignments and exercises will include installing exhibitions, documentation of artwork, grant writing proposals, residency and exhibition proposals, and presenting one's artwork and research in public lecture format. Class time is used for critiques, presentations, discussions and professional practice workshops and does not usually include open studio time. Senior Art major or permission, plus at least one 400-level studio art course.