Special Topics Course Descriptions



AH 4690F - Special Topics: “It seems hard to take a small drink”: Reconsidering London’s Religious Art

Often when we discuss the topic of religious art, we recall many of the grand monuments of ancient and pre-modern Europe, and not the art of our local places of worship. With the significant increase in societal secularism, coupled with news of atrocities carried out under the auspices of religious oversight to the visceral reactions to white religious nationalism, the religious art created in North America since the late nineteenth century is frequently overlooked despite its undeniable impact on our visual culture and in shaping the careers of many artists. Informed by this context, we explore the production of religious art in London since the turn of the nineteenth century. In so doing we will work in local religious archives, visit local religious sites, and contextualize the religious art of the London area within the broader artistic trends of the modern era. We do so to explore how religious commissions shaped local artists careers but also to uncover the engagements among religious officials, artists, and designers engaged with one another.


AH 4692F - Special Topics: ‘If it ain’t Baroque, then fix it’: 17th-Century Tips for Survival in a Post-Modern Age

Over the course of the twentieth century, the Baroque, a once forgotten period in Western history and culture, became more and more prominent for a variety of historical reasons; it found itself referenced in an increasing number of 20th-century art works and architecture. Its importance grew with the emergence of Post-Structuralism and its sibling, Post-Modernism, as scholars began to recognize commonalities between these contemporary theories and the Baroque. By the turn of the 21st century, the term “neo-baroque” was coined in media studies and it has emerged alongside other more recent theoretical trends such as digimodernism, hypermodernism, etc., that are now viewed as part of the more general trend known as “metamodernism.” This course proposes to examine the history of this revival of the Baroque focusing on its use and relevance to our contemporary times. In other words, what is the Neo-Baroque and why should you care.


SA 2690Y - Special Topics: Ceramics & Clay Art
(Runs Fall and Winter every other week)

An introduction to the medium of clay, focusing on hand-built ceramic sculptures and functional forms using a wide range of techniques demonstrated and discussed in bi-weekly classes. Projects will encourage learning through experimentation in scale and series in order to develop personal preferences and ability. No previous experience is required.



AH 2690G/ MCS 2690G/ SA 2694B - Special Topics: Methods of Appropriation in the Digital Age

This is a hybrid course in Art History, Museum and Curatorial Studies, and Studio Arts investigating methodologies of appropriation in artistic practice. Appropriation is the practice of borrowing from existing media such as advertising, film, television, video games, and other fields of visual culture in order to decontextualize the source material through manipulation, alteration, and remix. Focusing primarily on appropriation in the digital age, the course will begin with a historical and theoretical overview of artistic appropriation in the late 20th and 21st centuries. We will address ethical concerns regarding appropriation and debate on strategies for good practices in borrowing media for studio projects, as well as how they can best be incorporated in curatorial pursuits. The course will require written assignments as well as studio-based projects using still images, sound, and video. Basic familiarity with digital editing tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, and Audition is an asset, but guidance will be provided to those unfamiliar with the software.


AH 3690G/ MCS 3690G/ SA 3690B - Special Topics: Projection in the Arts

Projection in the Arts is available to students in all visual arts programs: Studio Arts, Museum and Curatorial Studies and Art History. Organized as creative research intensive, Projection in the Arts explores innovations in light as material and medium—paying particular attention to how artists, such as Olafur Eliasson, have engaged with light projection. The course will offer lectures on the deep historical past of light arts that includes shadow play, light puppetry, and lantern projection. Lecture material will also include newer developments in Light and Space and technologies such as lasers, interactive technologies, outdoor projections, AR and Holograms. This course will historically investigate—and practically experiment with some forms of light projection in the arts. The course will offer some basic instruction on the use of light and projector technologies now available within the department. DIY and low-tech experiments in light art installation will be encouraged. Students will participate in weekly lecture presentations, discussion forums, online activity, technical demonstrations and light projection workshops. Students have a choice to produce a final research paper; or, a final artistic project.


AH 3692G - Special Topics: Crafting the U.S. through Art and Architecture: Colonial to the Present

This course will examine the artistic developments of the United States from the colonial era to contemporary times. We will begin by examining the artistic engagements between Europeans and the Indigenous peoples of Americas, followed by an analysis of art from the Revolutionary through Antebellum periods. We will complete the course by considering the art of the modern age to contemporary times. Our objective is to document that evolution of American art as matured and diverged from its European roots, into a distinctively American (US) style. To achieve our goal, we will explore the artistic developments of the United States as the country developed from a colony to a nation state. Therefore, we will ask questions as to what influence political, religious, economic, and cultural factors had upon the American artistic creations.


AH 4640G - Special Topics: Artists as Historians

This seminar focuses on contemporary art in dialogue with the past. In the popular imagination, history is often thought of as what you get when a historian uncovers the truth about the past. But if instead we approach histories as interpretations of the past, then we can consider how events are described and interpreted differently depending on who is telling the story. This seminar explores how contemporary artists have embraced the role of historian by working against conventional frameworks to tell stories at the limits of the archive. Drawing on concepts of counter history from Black studies and decolonial theory, we consider how some artists have investigated lesser-known events to shed light on marginalized histories, while others have created fictional and speculative histories that offer new perspectives on the past and the future. Students will develop their own research projects in relation to the course theme.


AH 4694G - Special Topics: Seminar in Film and the Moving Image: Paracinema

“Paracinema” refers to works that attempt to generate the effects of cinema without using the traditional materials or physical support of film. Art historically, the term has been used to describe sculpture, installation, and video works from the 1960s and 1970s (including, for example, Anthony McCall’s “Line Describing A Cone” [1973]) that encourage analysis of “cinema” as an idea or concept by recreating its aesthetic, spectatorial and technological dimensions through a variety of creative strategies. This course will begin with a brief survey of paracinema’s early twentieth-century precedents, followed by a more in-depth exploration of its post-1960s manifestations. It will also consider the extent to which the term facilitates productive engagements with a variety of practices since the “cinematic turn” in contemporary art.


 SA 3692B - Special Topics: Oil Painting: From Material to Concept

This course will explore traditional and experimental oil painting techniques and develop crucial conceptual ideas pertinent to contemporary painting. Students will explore the role of painting as a research tool and as a system of thinking. Whilst helping students develop painting techniques and their observational skills, this course will encourage students to speculate further on the nature of painting practice and the role painting plays in contemporary culture. Dogmatic devices and restrictive challenges at the beginning of term will give way to unrestricted self-directed study by the end of the course where students will be asked to think their way conceptually through the paint. Through praxis and critique students will question their role in the painting process and the importance of an artist’s cultural and geographical situation.

Text’s which directly refer to painting as a material visual concern will be set alongside the practical program. Other course materials will be delivered through group seminars, presentations and group critiques. Students will also be encouraged to contribute to the content of the class through the visual analysis of paintings which they themselves will draw from the canon of art history.

The course will explore the following topics: oil painting mediums, painted grounds, glazing, layering, painting from life, painting’s relationship to place, painting time, and painting and its relationship to ethics.