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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Judy Major-Girardin


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 430

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27287


Office Hours: Thursdays 10:30 - 12:30

Course Objectives:

This course focuses on environmentally sustainable studio production and promotes understanding of materials and processes including the impact of their manufacturing, their use, health and safety implications, disposal considerations and the capacity for materials and practice to create meaning. Students will have an opportunity to examine a broad range of alternatives (themes, approaches, strategies and genres) related to environmentally responsible studio production.

Four hours; one term

Prerequisite: Registration in Level II or above of Studio Art program or registration in a Minor in Sustainability

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.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Text: To Life: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet (Linda Weintraub)


This class has a studio fee of $75 that will provide you with wool for felting, pulp for papermaking, bamboo and wood  in-class exercises. It will also facillitate a canoe trip on Cootes Marsh and a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens Earth Art exhibit.

Tuition covers instruction, technical and administrative support, equipment, tools, facilities/utility costs, models, visiting artists, and resources such as McMaster Museum of Art, Library, Anatomy Lab, etc.


Method of Assessment:


#1 Bee Hotel (due September 30 and worth 30% including critique presentation)

Each student will produce a sculptural form utilizing upcycled wood, firebrick, bamboo and other materials drilled with appropriate sized holes to invite habitation of local pollinators. This project promotes understanding of a current environmental issue and uses artistic strategies to contribute to environmental and aesthetic improvement of the local area. Bee hotels will be installed outdoors at the McMaster Apiary and Community Garden.

# 2 Naturally Connected 2 WATER (due Nov. 4 and worth 30% including critique presentation)

This project utilizes art strategies to investigate aspects of water. Students may address any issue associated with water that interests them such as conservation, pollution, social importance, optics (transparency, refraction, movement, fluidity).  Any media may be used but students should consider environmentally responsible approaches in selecting materials and processes. This project may be showcased in the President’s Corridor in a silent auction with 50% proceeds directed to the student artist and 50% of sales directed to the Cootes to Escarpment Park Plan initiative. Preliminary work for this project may be showcased at the McMaster Water Week events in early October.

#3 Natural Fibers – A series of three short-term projects using hand made paper, felt and bamboo (Due November 25 and worth 30%)

Each student will produce 3 small-scale works using natural materials during in-class workshops. You must attend class demo to obtain materials and instructions for these projects. Materials for this project are provided with your studio fees.

  1. Felt Workshop October 25 – create a 2D or 3D work of art entirely from felted wool.
  2. Paper Making Workshop November 11 – use hand made paper sheets or castings to produce a 2D or 3D work of art. Cotton and banana pulp will be provided and the student may contribute additional natural additives.
  3. Bamboo Workshop November 18 - each student will 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 slates 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, form, light and shadow. Materials for this project are provided with your studio fee.

#4 Participation / Engagement (assessed December 2 and worth 10%)

Students are required to attend all lectures, class excursions, critique sessions and workshops and record these events in their logbook. Written reflections on text readings are a component of this category and are due on Dec 2 with the log submission. 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 0 grade. In instances where a MSAF has been submitted, late assignments will be graded but not discussed outside of critique session deadlines. In these instances, assignments that are not received within 1 weeks of the due date will no longer be accepted and no projects may be submitted beyond the last day of classes.



MIDTERM = 30% (based on Projects # 1. This assessment will be provided by October 21, 2014.

FINAL  = midterm 30% + Project #2 (30%) and Project #3 (30%), and Participation /Engagement as demonstrated by attendance and log submission (10%). 

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




A+ = 90–100; A = 85–89; A- = 80–84

Work assessed at the A level consistently exceeds expectations and is characterized by 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 is characterized by 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.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Late Assignments, Extensions or Accommodations

Projects that are not presented by the student during their scheduled critique or on the deadline day will result in an automatic 0. In cases where a MSAF has been submitted, late assignments will be graded but not discussed at an alternative critique session and no assignment will be accepted beyond one week past the deadline without communication from the Dean of Humanities office. 

Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by the instructor and will only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation. There are NO automatic extensions or accommodations.    




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:




Week 1                      Course outline and review of assignments.

September 9               Introductory lecture on Environmentally Responsible Studio  

                                   Materials and Aesthetics lecture

                                   Visit to Mac Apiary with Brandi Lee Macdonald


Homework                   Read pgs. 33-50 To Life: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet          

                                    and write a short reflection on this reading in your log

                                    Plan your bee hotel design and gather materials


Week 2                       Class time in sculpture workshop TSH 110 to work on bee hotel

September 16             Andy Goldsworthy film screening in lobby


Homework                   Review section in text on Eco Art Genres, Strategies, Issues and Approaches and write a

                                    one page reflection in your log on which of these connect most closely with your own interests.



Week 3                       Canoe Trip (canoeing demo and life jackets are provided)

                                    Bring logbook to record info for Water Project

September 23             Meet in TSH lobby and we will walk to Princess Point


Homework                   Complete your Bee Hotel



Week #4                      CRITIQUE for Bee Hotel

September 30                       

Homework                   Prepare your bee hotel for installation



Week #5                    Install Bee Hotels in Mac Apiary and Community Garden

October 7                   

Homework                   Continue research for Water Project



Week #6                     Bus trip to Royal Botanical Gardens

October 14                  Earth Art Exhibition

Homework                   Read text 21st Century Eco Art Explorers and enter reflection in                                       

                                    your log and work on Water Project


Week #7                     Preliminary review of Water Project

October 21                  Midterm Grades

Homework                   Revisions to Water Project and preparations for installation


Week #8                     Class time for project #3 Natural Materials

October 28                  Felt Demo/Workshop

Homework                  Complete felt project



Week #9                     CRITIQUE WATER PROJECT

November 4                Install small framed preliminary work  and mountable projects in                                               

                                    President’s Corridor


Homework                   work on logbook entries



Week #10                   Class time for Natural Materials Project

November 11              Paper making Demo/Workshop


Homework                  Complete Papermaking project                     



Week #11                    Class time for Natural Materials Project

November 18              Bamboo Demo/Workshop


Homework                   Complete Bamboo Project      


Week # 12                   Submit Felt, Paper and Bamboo projects

November 25               Silent Auction in President’s Corridor closes



Week # 13                   HAND IN LOGBOOK

Dec. 2                          Review what we have learned

Other Course Information:

Avenue to Learn

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn.  Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course.  The available information is dependent on the technology used.  Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure.  If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.


Learn to embrace the “Three R’s” necessary to be an artist:




During your time in Studio Art, McMaster University, your faculty will strongly encourage you to:

  • Be self-possessed (develops over time by being prepared to perform when called upon)
  • Be self-confident (grows as a result of accepting and overcoming challenges)
  • Be self-reliant (learn by example and encouragement of faculty, then take initiative to self-realize)
  • In a healthy and constructive way, compete with yourself, your peers and the best art ever made
  • Develop a strong work ethic, and practice as if your life depended on it (it may, and probably does)
  • Develop ambitions that go beyond the ordinary — do not hesitate to be extraordinary
  • Aspire to the loftiest goals you can imagine, and let imagination and hard work take you there
  • Be curious, understanding that knowledge must be sought, and in art, experienced
  • Be highly self-motivated, and learn to accept knowledge you weren’t expecting
  • Learn to embrace fear and uncertainty as your closest allies for personal and professional growth
  • Grow in wisdom and maturity (both artistic and human)
  • Leave here thinking about things in different ways than you did when you began
  • Make a difference for yourself and others when you leave


Working in the Studios

All new studio art students are required to complete an online WHMIS test to access all studio equipment and facility. This test must be completed within the first 4 weeks of the fall semester. All students must familiarize themselves with the Studio Art Safety Manual for Students. Be aware of the rules and regulations for studio and equipment usage. Any questions regarding these issues should be directed to Michael Syms, Studio Technologist for the Studio Art program, or the course instructor. You are required to wear your steel-toed boots in all of the studios and workshops. Failure to do so will result in the removal of your studio access and privileges.

Appointments must be made with the studio technologist in regards to consulting and/or executing specific projects requiring the use of wood shop, metal or ceramics facilities. Please ensure appointments and arrangements are made well in advance of deadlines and critiques.

Studios are accessible through access cards and are open from 7 am to 10 pm, seven days a week. Students are not permitted to work in the studios alone. Please arrange to work in the studio with a peer when working after hours.

Guests (people not enrolled in studio art courses) are not permitted in the studios unless proper permission and documentation are provided.

There is no food or drink permitted in the studios. Please do not bring any chemicals or other materials into the studio without the permission of the studio technologist or instructor.


Incident Reports

If a student should have an accident in any of the studios, the incident (no matter how minor) must be reported to a faculty member or the studio technologist within 24 hours. If there is no faculty or technician is available, and immediate attention is needed, please call 88 for all emergencies. Do not hesitate to call 88 in any circumstance. Please do not make medical judgments for yourself or others. Let medical professionals make the necessary assessments.


Emergency Response

University line: ext. 88

905 522-4135; or 905 525-9140, ext. 24281


Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT)

Ext 27500

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday: 7 pm – 1 am

Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 7 pm – 2 am