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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 explores new directions and technologies that expand definitions of painting and drawing incorporating digital technologies, installations, urban interventions, sculptural approaches and alternative materials. Course work will include art assignments, readings, presentations, class discussion and critique. With a focus on conceptual art and ephemera as embodied forms of engagement, this course will provide students with theoretical and practice-based grounding in issues facing contemporary artists today. 

Each week, students are expected to spend a minimum of 3.5 hours on coursework outside of class time. It is strongly recommended that students schedule this time in their personal calendars at the beginning of term.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Studio Fee: $25

This fee covers the cost of general studio consumables including limited amounts of paper, gesso, and gel medium. Some assignment-specific materials will also be provided such as envelopes and cardboard.



As many aspects of the assignments will not be medium-specific, students are expected to cover the costs of their own materials as the need for them arises throughout the course. Students should plan for this and budget accordingly.


There is no textbook for the course. Readings will be made available through the Mills Library Reserve, and/or Avenue to Learn.

Method of Assessment:

Participation 10%

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 to make efficient use of all class time and work periods. Behaving disruptively, arriving late, leaving early, missing classes or otherwise failing to contribute positively to the group dynamic will impact your grade.


Envelope Project 10% _weekly assignment

Each week, students will contribute to an ongoing group project focused on ephemera and collective meaning. Assignment details will be discussed in class and posted on Avenue to Learn. Deadlines are weekly, with final evaluation at the end of term.


Presentation on an Artist 10% _due Sept. 22

Students will do research on one artist from a list provided and, following provided guidelines, will conduct a brief presentation for the class using Power Point, Keynote or Prezi. Assignment details will be discussed in class and posted on Avenue to Learn. Presentations will take place on Sept. 22.


Digital Intervention 10% _due Sept. 29

Using a variety of media and collage, students will create digital images representing hypothetical art interventions into the campus environment at McMaster. Images will be posted on a group Tumblr that is open to the public. Assignment Details will be discussed in class and posted on Avenue to Learn. Images will be posted to the Tumblr by midnight on September 29.


Reading Response Notes 10%  _part 1 due Oct. 14th, part 2 due Oct. 17th

Students will choose one text from a list provided and read it thoroughly. Students will make notes on the text according to guidelines posted on Avenue to Learn. Students will post their notes on a group discussion thread on Avenue to Learn. Students will read all of each other’s posts, and make constructive/insightful comments on at least three of their peers’ responses, contributing to a group discussion in the spirit of collective learning.

Response notes posted by midnight, Oct. 14th

3 comments posted by midnight Oct. 17th.


Brain Game 20% _due Oct. 20 (mid-term critique)

Students will follow provided guidelines to research and create an object representing their own brain, or the brain of a loved one. This project will be conducted as an art/science conversation in collaboration with the BRAINiacs, a group of neuroscience students who are developing a game about the brain. Depending on the results of the project, there may be a possibility for some students to further develop their ideas in ongoing collaboration with the BRAINiacs. Assignment Details will be discussed in class and posted on Avenue to Learn.


Installation in a Suitcase 10% _due Nov. 3_(discussed in final crit, Nov. 27)

Shipping fees and the need for storage space give many artists headaches. For this project, students will design a mobile installation that fits into a suitcase. Assignment Details will be discussed in class and posted on Avenue to Learn.


Intervention 20% _ due Nov. 24_(discussed in final crit, Nov. 27)

For the final project, students will follow provided guidelines to create an artwork designed as an intervention. Location(s) for the intervention and Assignment Details will be discussed in class and posted on Avenue to Learn.


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 and critique sessions. Arriving on time with the materials you need to make 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, etc.). Late assignments will be graded but not discussed outside of critique session deadlines. Assignments that are not received within 3 weeks of the due date will no longer be accepted, and 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:

Artists for Student Presentations on an Artist will be assigned in class.

Readings for Reading Response Notes will be assigned in class.


Sept. 8:  Introduction

work on Brain Game, Digital Intervention and Student Presentations


Sept. 15: work on Brain Game, Digital Intervention and Student Presentations

Envelope weekly project due


Sept. 22: Student Presentations in class

Envelope weekly project (work on Brain Game and Digital Intervention continues)


Sept. 29: Digital Intervention due, work Brain Game

Envelope weekly project due


Oct. 6: work on Brain Game

Envelope weekly project due


Oct. 13: NO CLASS (Thanksgiving)

Reading Response notes posted by Oct. 14, comments posted by Oct. 17


Oct. 20: MID-TERM CRIT - Brain Game due

Brain Game and Digital Interventiosn discussed

Envelope weekly project due


Oct. 27: Work on Installation in a Suitcase

Envelope weekly project due


Nov. 3: Installation in a Suitcase due

Work on Intervention

Envelope weekly project due


Nov. 10: Work on Intervention

Envelope weekly project due


Nov. 17: Work on Intervention

Envelope weekly project due


Nov. 24: Intervention due

Envelope weekly final project due (handed in)


Dec. 1: Final Crit

Installation in a Suitcase, Intervention and Envelope projects discussed

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