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ART 2ER3 Enviromentally Resp Art

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Judy Major-Girardin


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 430

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27287


Office Hours: Thursdays 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Course Objectives:

Tuesdays 1:30 - 5:30 Term 1

This course focuses on environmentally responsible art production and promotes a deeper understanding of art materials and processes including the impact of their manufacturing, how they are used, health and safety implications, disposal considerations and the capacity for materials and practice to create meaning. Students will have an opportunity, through hands-on studio work, to examine a broad range of alternative materials, themes, approaches, strategies and genres related to environmentally responsible studio production.  They will become familiar with pioneer and contemporary Eco Artists.


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

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 (L. Weintraub)



This class has a studio fee of $50 that will provide you with wool for felting, bamboo, paper pulp, some project supplies.


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 Naturally Connected 2 Water: Spencer Creek (25%)

Students will generate works of art in response to research and field trips to Spencer Creek (west campus) where they will learn about the importance of this cold water creek and initiatives that are underway to improve water conditions (Parking Lot M, Main Street drainage issue discussions, buffer zone plantings, flora and fauna field sampling by Biology, construction of turtle nesting sites, etc.) Observing and first hand learning about this local site will introduce a variety of water issues that arise on the borderlands between urban and natural areas and it will challenge us to consider our personal impact, perceptions of water and how it can be represented through art.

This project involves a collaborative printing activity and an independent mixed media work due in critique on September 29, 2015. An exhibition of select works will be showcased in the TSH Atrium as part of McMaster Water Week (October 5 – 9, 2015).


2. Ambassador Project (5%)

This project requires a community environmental contribution. You may choose to assist with the Naturally Connected 2 Water exhibition installation on Wednesday, September 30, 2015, volunteer to man a studio art table for McMaster Sustainability Day or volunteer for OPRIG or MAC Green. Five hours minimum are required for this course component and should be reported in writing and submitted to Avenue to Learn by November 24, 2015. Please see report guidelines posted on Avenue to Learn.


3. Written Reflection for Water Week( 5%)

Each student will attend one of the following and submit a one-page reflection to Avenue to Learn by October 20, 2015:

Water Week workshop, lecture, film during the week of October 5 – 9, 2015

HAVN exhibition and lecture on Eco Park by Dr. Brian Baetz on October 1 at 7 pm

HAVN exhibition and artist lecture by Judy Major-Girardin on Sept. 17 at 7 pm.


4.  Materials Exploration (25%)

Concept, scale and media are open for this assignment. Use your text to help you analyze how your approach fits within a broader framework of environmentally responsible studio practice. Students must research any materials that they use and seek environmentally responsible options.  The assignment will be evaluated on artistic quality as well as material experimentation and informed choices with respect to environmental responsibility. A checklist will be provided to assist you in evaluating impact of material choices. Due in critique on November 24, 2015.


#5 Natural Fibers - Hand made Paper, Felting, Bamboo (30%)

Each student will produce a series of works using natural materials introduced during class workshops. Materials for this project are provided with your studio fees. Due in critique on Dec 1.

a) Hand made Paper

Learn to create hand-made sheets using a variety of paper pulps including banana pulp, cotton linters and Hosta pulp. 2D small-scale works will be created through layering, shaping and fiber additions

b) Felting 

Learn wet and needle felting techniques and create a small-scale work using wool roving and unprocessed wool and hair.

c) Bamboo   

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.


5. Reflection on Textbook Readings (10%)

            Textbook readings are assigned as follows:

            Sept. 8th read Introduction and Eco Art Themes on pages 9 – 33

            Sept. 15th read Eco Art Aesthetics and Eco Art Materials on pages 33 - 50

            Oct. 27th read 20th Century Eco Art Pioneers on pages 53 - 120

            Nov. 3rd read 21st Century Eco Art Explorers on pages 123 -320  

Write a short (several paragraphs) 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 react against can be important in helping to shape what you embrace. Reflections for the first two readings are due on Avenue to Learn by November 3 (5%) and for the last two readings the due date is December 8 (5%).




MIDTERM = 35% (based on Water Project # 1 (25%), Project #2 Ambassador Project (5%) and Project #3 Water Week Reflection 5%). This assessment will be provided by October 27, 2015.

FINAL  = midterm + Materials Project #4 (25%) + Fibers Project #5 (30%)  + Textbook Reflections (10%)= 100%


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.

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:

Textbook readings are assigned as follows:

            Sept. 8th read Introduction and Eco Art Themes on pages 9 – 33

            Sept. 15th read Eco Art Aesthetics and Eco Art Materials on pages 33 - 50

            Oct. 27th read 20th Century Eco Art Pioneers on pages 53 - 120

            Nov. 3rd read 21st Century Eco Art Explorers on pages 123 -320  

Write a short (several paragraphs) 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 react against can be important in helping to shape what you embrace. Reflections for the first two readings are due on Avenue to Learn by November 3 (5%) and for the last two readings the due date is December 8 (5%).

Other Course Information:

ART 2ER3 Calendar


September 8         Course Outline Review and introduction to Eco Art

                              Introduction to “Naturally Connected 2 Water: Spencer Creek”

                              Talk by Biology faculty on Spencer Creek

                               Xante Printing fish species and plant impressions from Spencer Creek

Homework             Visit HAVN, Barton Street, on Super Crawl Sept. 11 for info on Eco Park (optional)                                              

                              Work on Naturally Connected 2 Water Project

                              Read page 9 – 31 (Textbook intro and Eco Art Themes)


September 15        Project #1 Naturally Connected 2 Water: Spencer Creek (25%)

                               Focus on Spencer Creek and local/campus water issues and themes                                    

                               Field trip to Spencer Creek for outdoor painting, drawing, site rubbings and photography       

Homework              Attend Sept 17 artist lecture at HAVN (7 pm) for reflection assignment

                               Work on Naturally Connected 2 Water

                               Read pages 33-50 n your textbook (Eco Art Aesthetics & Eco Art Materials)


September 22       Workshop on representing water (staining, pouring, marbling and optics)                                      

                              Lecture on genres, strategies, eco issues and approaches (distribute concept map)

Homework             Complete mixed-media water project for Naturally Connected Exhibition


September 29        Critique of Water Project and planning for Water Week

                               Project #2 Ambassador Project (10%)

Homework             Assist with Water Week Exhibition, participate in Sustainability Day or volunteer 

                              Attend HAVN lecture on Eco Park October 1, 7 pm for reflection assignment


October 6                Public Reception for Water Week Exhibition in TSH Atrium 4:30 pm

                                Concept mapping of independent water project using graphic from textbook

Homework             Project #3  (10%) Attend a water week activity or HAVN lecture and write a reflection.


October 13             Fall Recess – no class


October 20             Project #4 Material Exploration (25%) assignment introduction

                               Materials / health & Safety lecture (labeling, testing, MSDS, resources)

                               Submit Water Week reflection on Avenue to Learn (Project #3)


October 27             Midterm: Water Project 25% + Ambassador Project 10% + WW Reflection 10%= 45%

                               Workshop on papermaking (all materials provided)

Homework              Read text pages 53 – 120 (20th Century Eco Art Pioneers)


November 3          Workshop on felting (all materials provided)

                              Submit Reflections on first two readings to Avenue to Learn (5%)

Homework             Read text pages 123-320 (21st Century Eco Art Explorers)


November 10         Workshop on bamboo (all materials provided)

Homework             Complete textbook readings


November 17         Work period for Material Exploration project or completion of workshop explorations

                               Group discussions on aspects of textbook readings

Homework             Complete Material Exploration project


November 24         Critique for Project #4 Material Exploration 

                               Assessing success of environmentally responsible options

Homework             Complete all workshop pieces (bamboo, felt, paper)


December 1           Submit Project #5 workshop pieces (30%) bamboo, felt & paper

Homework             Complete reflections on last two textbook readings


December 8           Instructor lecture on Environmentally Responsible Studio initiative

                               Invitation to participate in ERPP Symposium

                               Submit Reflections on last two Textbook Readings (5%) to Avenue to Learn