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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Sally McKay


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 417

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23675

Office Hours: Mondays, 1:30-2:30 pm, TSH 417

Course Objectives:

This course investigates the campus environment and local resources to explore the potential of place as it informs the production of site-based art practice. Through a series of on and off-campus excursions, students will learn field research skills that support the creation of artworks. Site visits to diverse locations will incorporate the collection of multi-sensory data through sketching, note taking and other means to support the later creation finished works, as well as the production of finished artworks on location. Assigned readings, independent research and class discussion will facilitate an understanding of contemporary issues in the practice and theory of on-site field work for artists. Traditional and non-traditional methods will be explored, with a focus on drawing.


Students are expected to devote a minimum of 3.5 hours a week outside of class time to complete assignments and conduct independent research. It is strongly recommended that students schedule this time in their personal calendars at the beginning of term.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Students are required to purchase their own art materials for the course. Required items for working in the field include the following:

            HB, 2B and 4B pencils

            eraser (gum eraser is best)

            pencil sharpener  

            at least one stick of hard conté in black or brown

            dry media for work in colour (a set of hard pastels or pencil crayons)

            a bag or kit for containing and carrying the above items


            NOTE: please also bring a digital camera if you have one

            (a smart phone camera is fine).


            You may add any other materials to this basic kit, as you desire.


You must bring all of the above materials to EVERY field trip excursion. You may be required to purchase additional supplies for completion of assignments as the course progresses.

Method of Assessment:

Participation 15%

You will be expected to participate fully in all group critiques and class discussions. This means arriving on time, paying attention and joining in discussion to provide constructive criticism for your peers. Because this course has a particular focus on risk taking and experimentation, the atmosphere in the classroom should be always be characterized by courtesy and mutual respect. Active questioning and differences of opinion, respectfully expressed in a spirit of collaboration and mutual exchange, contribute to a positive and supportive group dynamic. You will be expected to arrive promptly and fully prepared with the materials you need for all classes and excursions. When on field trips, you will be expected to treat the host institutions with courtesy and respect. Holding up the group, behaving disruptively, arriving late, leaving early, missing classes or otherwise failing to contribute positively to the group dynamic will impact your grade.


Presentation on a Contemporary Artist (Field Work/Site Specific Practice) 10%

You will make a 10 minute presentation (Power Point, Keynote or Prezi) to the class on a contemporary artist who uses field work and/or site specific concerns in their practice. You are expected to devote a minimum of 3 hours to preparing this presentation. Detailed guidelines will be discussed in class and posted on Avenue to Learn.

            Presentation                        conducted in class on Oct. 7                                                10%


On-Site Research 25%

As a group, the class will conduct 4 site visits before mid-term, and 1 site visit after mid-term. During each visit, you will be provided with expectations and specific assignments for on-site research. This work must be completed during class time. This work will be presented and handed in for evaluation at critiques. Detailed guidelines will be discussed in class.

            Aviary                                    completed Sept. 16            handed in Oct. 21                              5%

            Library                                   completed Sept. 23            handed in Oct. 21                              5%

            Reactor                                 completed Sept. 30            handed in Oct. 21                              5%

            RGB                                      completed Oct. 14              handed in Oct. 21                              5%


            Steam & Tech                        completed Oct. 28             handed in Nov. 25                             5%


Mining Your Research 25%

For each site visit you will use to your on-site research to create a finished artwork. You are expected to devote a minimum of 3 hours to each project, each week. These works must be produced during the week following each site visit. These artworks will be presented and handed in during critiques. Detailed guidelines will be discussed in class and/or posted on Avenue to Learn.

            Aviary                                    completed by Sept. 23                        handed in Oct. 21            5%

            Library                                   completed by Sept. 30                        handed in Oct. 21            5%

            Reactor                                 completed by Oct. 7                            handed in Oct. 21            5%

            RGB                                      completed by Oct. 21                          handed in Oct. 21            5%


            Steam & Tech                        completed by Nov. 4                           handed in Nov. 25           5%


Final Project: Independent Field Work 25%

For the final project you will work independently at a specific site of your choosing. This is a major project. You must submit a written proposal. You are expected to put in a minimum of  7 hours of on-site research (work periods provided on November 11 and November 18th) and devote a minimum of 7 hours to mine your research and produce a final artwork. Your research process work and your final artwork will be presented and handed in for evaluation during final critique. Detailed guidelines for the proposal and the project will be discussed in class and/or posted on Avenue to Learn.

            Proposal                                                                       handed in Oct. 28                5%


            On-site research     completed Nov. 4 & Nov. 18        handed in Nov. 25               10%

            Final artwork           in progress Nov. 4 – Nov. 18       handed in Nov. 25               10%


Grading Scale:

A+  90-100             B+  77-79             C+  67-69            D+  57-59

A   85-89                B   73-76              C   63-66             D   53-56

A-  80-84                B-  70-72             C-  60-62             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 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 attendance at all classes)



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 your ability to demonstrate your abilities during in-class activities.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Students are required to attend all classes, excursions and critique sessions. Arriving on time and making efficient use of class time is crucial for your success in this course. There will be no make-ups for missed excursions or class presentations. Late assignments will automatically result in a letter drop in grade (A becomes B, etc.). Late assignments will be graded but not discussed outside of critique session deadlines. Mid-term assignments that are not received within 3 weeks of the due date will no longer be accepted. No projects may be submitted beyond the last day of classes.

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.

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:

Sept. 9th: Introduction


Sept. 16: Aviary


Sept. 23: Library


Sept. 30: Reactor


Oct. 7: Student Presentations


Oct. 14: RBG


Oct. 21: mid-term critique


Oct. 28: Hamilton Mus. Steam & Tech


Nov. 4: work period (independent on-site research)


Nov. 11: in-class discussion & feedback on work in progress


Nov. 18: work period (independent on-site research)


Nov. 25: final critique A


Dec. 2: final critique B

Other Course Information:

Email Communication:  The instructor may take up to 48 hours to read and/or respond to student emails.

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.

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

Academic and writing skills support is offered by the Student Success Centre located in Gilmour Hall, room 110. For more information on the Student Success Centre please call (905) 525-9140 [ext. 24254], email or visit