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ART 1SI3 Studio Investigations

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Chris Myhr


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 328

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23930


Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:30-1:30 (or by appointment)

Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Effectively engage in a variety of independent and collaborative research approaches (image/media-based, text-based, sketchbook, etc) and apply this knowledge to the production of studio projects
  • Effectively deploy various research resources available at McMaster University and online (library and museum book/journal/image searches, etc)
  • Effectively develop personalized conceptual frameworks/questions, and explore these through integrated research and studio practice
  • Develop independent studio projects which demonstrate creativity and intuition, as well as an emerging grasp of more complex forms of visual communication (i.e. metaphor, allusion, etc)
  • Understand the range of approaches, themes, and ideas explored by contemporary art practitioners in order to locate and contextualize their own interests and practices
  • Engage in constructive analysis and critique of art works in a variety of mediums
  • Effectively craft a clear and professional artist statement/project proposal
  • Deploy a variety of methods in the capture and collection of digital images (i.e. scanners, DSLRs, online image sourcing)
  • Deploy digital imaging software (i.e. Adobe Photoshop) in the production and output of image-based work
  • Maintain safe practices in the production of studio work

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

  • Sketchbook/Journal for idea generation, notes etc (form/dimensions to be discussed in class)
  • External hard drive (USB 3.0) or USB stick (formatted in MS-DOS(FAT) or ExFAT)

A lab/studio fee of $25.00 must be paid to Sharon in the SOTA office as soon as possible. This studio fee will provide an access card to the studios, as well as expendable materials needed for the course (i.e. paper specific to projects, printing costs, technology/materials required for the presentation of project work, etc). This studio fee subsidizes general costs related to the course. Students are responsible for acquiring personal materials such as steel-toed boots, brushes, drawing tools or materials specific to your individual projects. 

Any required/supplementary readings will be available on Avenue to Learn in PDF format.

Method of Assessment:

Given the student-centred, participatory dynamic of this course, punctuality, attendance and active engagement during scheduled class times is essential. Students are expected to demonstrate an attitude of respectful criticality and active engagement at all times, and contribute to the creation of a collegial and productive learning environment. The quality and professionalism of individual contributions and performance during these activities will constitute a major component of the final course grade.

Final grades will be determined through the assessment of research/studio work, as well as the quality of student contributions to discussion and presentation/feedback sessions. The breakdown is as follows:

25% Zeitgeist/Icons/Assemblage (Due Jan 28)
15% Collaborative Research Presentation (Due Mar 3)
35% Integrated Research/Studio Project (Due Mar 31)
25% Professionalism and Participation

Each assigned project will include a description (available on A2L) outlining overall objectives, specific considerations, submission requirements/formats and deadlines. Student work will be evaluated in terms of:

- Technical proficiency
- Conceptual focus and rigour
- Synthesis and presentation
- Work ethic and personal investment 

Successful projects will clearly demonstrate effort and attention to three key stages of studio production: research/planning, experimentation/development/problem-solving, and refinement/resolution. For more information on the assessment of project work, see the detailed rubric included on the full syllabus posted on Avenue to Learn. Depending on the nature of the assignment, work will be submitted to an Avenue to Learn Drop Box folder, and/or delivered to the instructor during class time.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Students enrolled in this course will be expected to arrive on-time at the start of each class, and be sufficiently prepared to work on projects and participate in scheduled activities. Each unexcused absence without official documentation (see the MSAF section for details) will be reflected in the evaluation. More than four unexcused absences will result in a zero for the Professionalism and Participation component of the semester grade. Unexcused absences from scheduled work/consultation sessions will have a negative impact on project grades. Unexcused absentees from scheduled critiques will not receive detailed feedback on projects. It is recommended that students read the assessment_proposals_critique.pdf document posted on Avenue to Learn. 

A penalty of 5% per day will be deducted from assignments submitted late, or those not presented in the required format. Assignments will not be accepted after seven days without official documentation (see the MSAF section for details), and will receive a grade of zero. Extensions for late work, or accommodations for missed tests or tutorials, will be granted only upon the recommendation of a student's home faculty: please take such requests directly to your home faculty's office. 

Recommendations/appeals for extensions will not be accepted on or after project due dates, and must be received no later than 48 hours before the deadline.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

The course focuses on strategies for integrated research and studio practices that will introduce students to concepts, questions and methods aimed at developing the depth and breadth of their artistic directions. Students will engage in a series of independent and collaborative projects that will combine self-directed research with aesthetic exploration, and production in the context of contemporary art. There will be a particular emphasis on developing a more in-depth understanding as to the motivations and historical/contemporary positioning of the students’ current practices. 

The outline below is for orientation purposes only, and is subject to change. Please consult the full and definitive syllabus posted on Avenue to Learn for any potential updates.

Winter Semester Schedule (Subject to Change):

Jan 7
Orientation and instructor introduction
Introduction Project 1
HMC orientation
Demo: basic DSLR photography
Health and safety take-home quiz
Screening/Reading discussion (time permitting)

Jan 14
Health and safety discussion/orientation
Digital image fundamentals
Demo: Scanning
Processing images in Photoshop
Work/research session (Project 1)
Screening/Reading discussion (time permitting)
Jan 21
Screening/Reading discussion
Exporting images for print
Work/research/printing session (Project 1)

Jan 28
Project 1 due
Project 1 presentations (Round 1)

Feb 4
Project 1 presentations (Round 2)
Introduction Project 2

Feb 11
Museum/Library orientations
Work/research session (Project 2)

Feb 18
Reading Week

Feb 25
Work/research session (Project 2)

Mar 3
Project 2 due
Project 2 presentations
Introduction Project 3

Mar 10
Screening/Reading discussion
Work/research session (Project 3)

Mar 17
Screening/Reading discussion
Work/research session (Project 3)

Mar 24
Screening/Reading discussion
Strategies for analysis/critique
In-progress peer critiques (Project 3)
Work session (Project 3)

Mar 31
Sketchbook/Research Portfolios due
Project 3 due
Project 3 critique (Round 1)

Apr 7
Project 3 critique (Round 2)

Other Course Information:

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: If you require special accommodation for learning or have any special needs please let me know of them as soon as possible in order that arrangements can be made. Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with the Centre for Student Development.
The detailed and definitive version of the syllabus will be posted on Avenue to Learn. Students are responsible for consulting this document for the most up-to-date information on scheduled activities, rubrics, etc.