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ART 2ER3 EnviromentallyRespArt

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Judy Major-Girardin


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 430

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27287


Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:30 - 1:30 pm and by apt Tuesday 5:30 - 6:30 pm

Course Objectives:

This course focuses on environmentally responsible studio production and promotes more sustainable approaches to material and process selection including consideration of the impact of manufacturing, applied use, health and safety for artists, disposal considerations and the capacity for materials and practice to create meaning. Students will have an opportunity to examine and compare a broad range of alternatives and will acquire an understanding of the themes, approaches and strategies that are shifting studio production towards increased environmental responsibility. 

McMaster Sustainability Pledge

“I will strive to take an active role in understanding the social, economic, and environmental consequences of my decisions and actions in order to effectively contribute to the development of a culture of sustainability at McMaster University and within the communities which I am a part."


McMaster University Sustainability Policy - Mission Statement

McMaster University will apply its immense potential and use its creative and innovative campus community to advance sustainable operations and growth. McMaster is helping to shape the minds and values of new generations of leaders and decision makers by integrating an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable consciousness into all aspects of the university lifecycle through innovation, communication, community engagement and implementation.


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead 




Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

 Required Text

To Life: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (L. Weintraub)


Bamboo, and twine for Bamboo Structure

Birch plywood panel, pine frame, hardware, glue, & primer for Hamilton Painting

Set of high quality gouache paint (primary colours plus black and white)

Papermaking workshop supplies

Non-toxic oil painting workshop supplies (oil paint, alkyd gel, walnut oil, paper)

Wool & sewing notions for Collaborative Felt Project




Teaching Assistants


Visiting Artists

Life Models

Program Administrators

Student Support Offices

Studio and exhibition space

Specialized equipment (woodshop, presses, kilns, foundry, welding, computers/printers, etc.)

Shared hand tools, brushes, palettes, felting needles for in class work

Studio furniture and props

Access to campus resources (Library, McMaster Museum of Art, Anatomy Lab)



Soft-bristle brushes (suggested flat and round)

Support for Independent Project (paper, wood, recycled found support or other)

Materials for Independent Project (your choice as it relates to your concept)

Method of Assessment:



Project #1 On-site Painting

Build a small-scale birch panel support (including priming and sanding) to prepare it for an on-site painting field trip to the 22 floor of Stelco Tower in downtown Hamilton. Using gouache paint set provided, paint an aerial view of the city by selecting any view outside of the 360 degree options available from our vantage point. Paint, wood for panel and gesso provided through studio fees.

Due on January 31 at the beginning of class for critique (20%)


Project #2 Bamboo Structure

Create a linear drawing in space that explores the potential of bamboo as an alternative, lightweight, durable and sustainable material. The structure will be made entirely from bamboo slats that are bound with twine or joined together without the use of glue. The piece must be structurally stable and inventive in its use of material and exploration of line and form. Remember to consider light and shadow as a component of this work. All materials for this project are provided through studio fees.

Due on January 31 at the beginning of class for critique (20%)


Project #3 Collaborative Felt Map of Hamilton

Using wet and needle felting techniques create a section of a work that will collaboratively form a map of Hamilton when stitched together with sections completed by your peers.

All materials for this project are provided through studio fees.

Due March 14 at the beginning of class for critique (20%)


Project #4 Independent Project

Create a work in any media that responds to a unique environmental feature of Hamilton or an environmental challenge that the city faces. All materials for this project should be carefully considered for their environmental impact (see Environmentally Responsible Art Checklist for guidance). Media, size, concept should all be carefully researched and selected for potential to communicate meaning to the work. You are responsible for all materials for this project.

Due March 21 (with checklist completed) at the beginning of class for critique (20%)


Project #5 Participation/Class Engagement (10%)

This category requires prompt attendance at class and active engagement in workshops (non-toxic oil painting, papermaking, collaborative snow construction) as well as participation in group exhibition, critique discussions, attendance at film and lectures.

Ongoing participation and good attendance will ensure success in this category.

All workshop materials are provided through studio fees.


Project #6 Reflection on Textbook Readings (10%)

Textbook readings are assigned as follows:

            Jan 17 - reflection due Introduction and Eco Art Themes (pgs. 9 – 33)

            Jan31 reflection due Eco Art Aesthetics & Eco Art Materials (pgs. 33 – 50)

            Feb 14 reflection due20th Century Eco Art Pioneers  (pages 53 – 120)

            Feb 28rd reflection due 21st Century Eco Art Explorers (pages 123 -320)  

Write a short (one page max) reflection on each reading as it relates to your individual interests and ideas with respect to this course. Focus on artists, materials, genres, strategies, approaches and issues of particular relevance to your own practice.  Remember that even those things that you reject may be important in helping to shape what you embrace.Reflection on Visiting

Attendance at Amanda McCavour Artist lecture (up to 5% bonus)


MIDTERM = 45% (based on Project #1 Hamilton Painting (20%) and Project #2 Bamboo Structure (20%) and Reading reflections #1 & #2 (5%). This assessment will be provided by February 14, 2017.

FINAL  = midterm + Project #3 Collaborative Felt Map (20%)  + Project #4 Independent Project (20%)  + Textbook Reflections (5%) + Participation (10%) = 100%

Optional Bonus Mark for Amanda McCAvour Visiting Artist reflection or independent research on Eco Artist (up to 5%).


The following scale of percent equivalences is used for calculating final grades:

A+  = 90-100; A = 85-89; A- = 80-84; B+ = 77-79; B = 73-76; B- = 70-72; C+ = 67-69; C = 63-66; C- = 60-62; D+ = 57-59; D = 53-56; D- = 50-52; F = 0-49

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:



Arriving on time and making efficient use of class time is crucial for your success in this course. Late assignments will automatically result in a letter drop in grade (A becomes B). Late assignments will be graded but not discussed outside of critique session deadlines. Assignments that are not received within 1 week of the due date will no longer be accepted and no projects may be submitted beyond the last day of classes.


The success of studio courses is dependent on the active engagement of all participants. Learning is accelerated in a hands-on environment where work and ideas can be discussed as they evolve, and challenges and successes can be shared. Important health and safety information and safe operating procedures are communicated during class time. You must receive this information to work independently in the studio, and you may not operate any equipment or use any process that you have not received safety training for.


Class discussions and critiques empower individuals to take risks in their art practice and learn from each other. It is of utmost importance that all students participate fully by attending all classes and remaining welcoming and open to all points of view.


The atmosphere of the studio should be characterized by courtesy and mutual respect. Participating in group critiques is an important part of providing constructive feedback for your peers. Active questioning and differences of opinion, respectfully expressed in a spirit of collaboration and mutual exchange, contribute to a positive and supportive group dynamic. It is your responsibility to contribute positively in this shared space and come to class prepared, on time and ready to contribute to the activities of the day. 

Support Services

The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. Reference librarians can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and

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:

Project #6 6Reflection on Textbook Readings (10%)

Textbook readings are assigned as follows:

            Jan 17 - reflection due Introduction and Eco Art Themes (pgs. 9 – 33)

            Jan31 reflection due Eco Art Aesthetics & Eco Art Materials (pgs. 33 – 50)

            Feb 14 reflection due20th Century Eco Art Pioneers  (pages 53 – 120)

            Feb 28rd reflection due 21st Century Eco Art Explorers (pages 123 -320)  

Write a short (one page max) reflection on each reading as it relates to your individual interests and ideas with respect to this course. Focus on artists, materials, genres, strategies, approaches and issues of particular relevance to your own practice. Remember that even those things that you reject may be important in helping to shape what you embrace. 

Other Course Information:

Office Hours

Office hours are intended to provide additional assistance and you are welcome to visit often to discuss course projects or seek assistance on difficulties you may be experiencing. It is always better to deal with an issue while there is still time remaining in the term to seek solutions. Office hours are not a replacement class for those opting to miss class time without valid excuse. Office hours will not provide feedback sessions if you miss a critique deadline. It is important that you learn to manage your time. Of course, extenuating circumstances can sometimes occur and requests for accommodation should be discussed with the instructor a.s.a.p.



10        Introduction ERA PowerPoint

            Issues /Approaches / Strategies lecture

            Build panels and gesso small panels for on site painting

            Fill out H&S form for trip

HW     Apply additional coats of gesso sanding between each layer

            Textbook readings pages 9 – 33 (write 1 page reflection)


17        Stelco Tower trip for Hamilton Painting (bring camera, paint supplies)

            Reflection on textbook reading # 1 due by 1:30 pm (start of class)

HW     Complete small panel painting

            Visiting Artist Amanda McCavour (Thurs. 1:30 TSH 114) Reflection submitted for optional bonus marks.


24        Bamboo Structure

            Reflection on Amanda McCavour lecture (due at beginning of class for optional bonus mark up to 5%)

HW     Complete bamboo structure

           Textbook reading #2 pages 33 -50 (write 1 page reflection)


31        Critique of small panel painting and bamboo (final due date)

            Reading reflection #2 due by 1:30 pm (start of class)

HW     Research an environmental highlight or challenge of Hamilton for final independent project (checklist on ATL)



7          Workshop on non-toxic oil painting on paper (participation grade)

            Andy Goldsworthy Film 

            Materials lecture and discussion of checklist for independent project

HW     Independent Hamilton project

            Reflection on textbook reading #3 pages 53 - 120


14        Midterm based on Project #1 Hamilton painting (20%), Project #2 Bamboo (20%) & Reflections # 1 & #2 (5%)

            Courtyard collaborative work session with snow (participation grade)

            Photograph/draw to document your work (due for Mar 21 discussion)

            Reading reflection #3 due at 1:30 pm (start of class)

HW     Independent Hamilton project and reading reflection #4 pages 123 - 320


21        Reading Week


28        Assign sections of Hamilton map for felt work and enlarge to scale

            Reading reflection #4 due at 1:30 (start of class)

            Discussion of textbook readings #3 and #4 (Selected artists of interest)



7          Collaborative Felted Map of Hamilton

HW     Complete individual section of felt work


14        Assemble felt work into collaborative map & do any needle felting additions

            Critique of collaborative snow and felt works (bring documentation)

HW     Complete Independent project and ERA checklist


21        Critique of Independent Project & submission of ERA checklist           

HW     Research on Eco artist  (optional bonus)


28        Hamilton Exhibition and reception (participation grade)

            Optional bonus for Eco Artist research (due at 1:30 beginning of class)



4          Papermaking in courtyard if weather permits (participation grade)

            Share info on Eco Artist research with peers








Achievement Levels



A+ = 90–100; A = 85–89; A- = 80–84

Work assessed at the A level consistently exceeds expectations and exhibits the following:

Conceptual rigour

Deep critical engagement

Complex, ambitious and prolific production

Meets deadlines with time for reflection before presentation

Advanced technical proficiency and risk taking

Comprehensively researched responses linked to focused goals, personal interests and artistic vision

Independent and self-directed approaches

Highly professional presentations

Engagement with all aspects of the course (requires promptness and stellar attendance)



B+ = 77–79; B = 73–76; B- = 70–72

Work assessed at the B level consistently meets expectations and exhibits the following:

Good grasp of concepts

Evidence of developing critical skills

Meets deadlines

Technically sound, demonstrating sensitivity to materials and their connection to ideas

Evolving research skills and good understanding of personal goals and interests

Some independence, self-motivation and risk-taking evident

Satisfactory presentation

Engaged with most aspects of the course



C+ = 67–69; C = 63–66; C- = 60–62

Work assessed at the C level fails to meet some expectations and exhibits some or all the following:

Inconsistent grasp of concepts

Little evidence of critical skills

Work is regularly late or presented in an undeveloped state

Struggling with technical skills, and conservative approach to exploration and risk

Requires regular assistance to understand assignments

Unsatisfactory presentation (unprepared, late)

Minimal engagement with course (poor attendance, few contributions evident)



D+ = 57–59; D = 53–56; D- = 50–52

Work assessed at the D level consistently falls short of expectations and exhibits some or all of the following:

Significant struggle with concepts and objectives

No evidence of critical skills

Missed deadlines

Simplistic technical approach with little sensitivity to materials

Arbitrary or no research evidence

Unacceptable presentation (inappropriate or wastes the time of the group)

Unsatisfactory engagement with course



F = 0–49

Work assessed at the F level fails to meet enough of the course requirements to obtain credit. Studio Art is a hands-on learning experience. Students who miss more than 3 classes or 25% of the course risk a failing grade due to the impact of this percentage on their ability to demonstrate abilities during in-class activities.