Graduate Studies Electives

Overview

The division of Graduate Studies offers studios and seminars designed to provide students with opportunities for interdisciplinary study and the exploration of issues and practices of interest to advanced-level students in all disciplines. The courses provide opportunities to:

  • explore areas of interest beyond program requirements
  • collaborate on projects with students from diverse backgrounds
  • connect with the larger graduate student population
  • ground your own studio explorations in the context of contemporary theory and practice

Not all of the following courses are offered every year, but this list gives a sense of the kinds of questions and conversations supported by the Graduate Studies curriculum. All GS electives are open to any graduate student, without prerequisites.

Courses

  • GRAD-046G

    ALL ABOUT THE WHY

    Faculty:

    This class is for artists across disciplines who want to deepen their understanding of the wellsprings of their work. Through a series of riddles and explorations using images and playing with materials different from, but parallel to, our customary ones, we investigate what makes our work uniquely ours. We practice collaborative naming and subverting our usual practices to both discover and transmute our practice: honing, expanding, or shifting it to new focal points. We engage with text, writing, and conversations, but the bulk of the work for this class is making and writing in ways that run counter to our "usual" practices. In this discomfort, new directions emerge. The process is designed to open up possibilities for future work and to develop language around it. This course culminates in a series of sketches, models, writing, and unlikely projects in students' own mediums or in parallel ones. More than creating polished "projects" the outcome of this class is discovering and pursuing larger and deeper possibilities for our ongoing work.
    Graduate elective
  • GRAD-046G

    ALL ABOUT THE WHY

    Faculty:

    This class is for artists across disciplines who want to deepen their understanding of the wellsprings of their work. Through a series of riddles and explorations using images and playing with materials different from, but parallel to, our customary ones, we investigate what makes our work uniquely ours. We practice collaborative naming and subverting our usual practices to both discover and transmute our practice: honing, expanding, or shifting it to new focal points. We engage with text, writing, and conversations, but the bulk of the work for this class is making and writing in ways that run counter to our "usual" practices. In this discomfort, new directions emerge. The process is designed to open up possibilities for future work and to develop language around it. This course culminates in a series of sketches, models, writing, and unlikely projects in students' own mediums or in parallel ones. More than creating polished "projects" the outcome of this class is discovering and pursuing larger and deeper possibilities for our ongoing work.
    Graduate elective
  • GRAD-091G

    ART & DESIGN FOR THE DEVELOPING WORLD

    Faculty:

    Formerly known as 'Design for Development,' this graduate seminar is for students wishing to explore the role art and design can play in addressing issues of social justice, human rights, environmental degradation and economic development in less-developed regions of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Within a critical framework of engagement, the course positions the artist and designer as an innovator and activist addressing subjects as diverse as preventing human trafficking and enslavement; artisan product development; providing for displaced communities; curriculum development for a new product design program focusing on the needs of rural populations; and game design for promoting community cooperation and entrepreneurial activity. Discussions of readings on international development and the artist/designer as social activist will support background research on focus areas to be selected from a series of existing RISD relationships with outside non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and foreign universities. This course is project-based and builds on case studies from the 2012 course 'Frameworks: The Art and Ethics of International Engagement' which covered a variety of social and economic international development initiatives and organizations. Projects are seen as parts of larger development strategies and students will be expected to situate and assess the role and significance of their proposals within those larger contexts. Project work for the course will be done in interdisciplinary teams with guidance by faculty, outside experts and alumni.
  • GRAD-059G

    ART & DESIGN: INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE

    Faculty:

    This is a studio-based seminar that calls upon graduates from different disciplines to collaborate, conceive, make, and prepare a fully realized strategy for the appearance of studio projects in the world. Students are given a rigorous series of tasks designed to spur collaborative work. Examples include an assignment that challenges students to pursue failure, rather than resolution, in their work. Another asks students to exchange meaningful technical information then merge their ideas in a single "invention."
    Several visits to New York City introduce students to practitioners collaborating as well as creating, distributing, and writing about work that falls between disciplines. Past visits included the design firms Pentagram and SMART, galleries White Columns and Monya Rowe, artists Lisa Yuskavage and Mathew Brannon, studio collectives Flux Factory and The Old American Can Factory and institutions such as The New York Times, the Whitney Museum, MoMA and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Substantial readings - ranging from the Frankfurt School to Geoff Dyer to Zygmunt Bauman - supplement the visits and provide focus for in-class discussions. Campus-wide studio trips and critiques from a diverse roster of visitors including Martha Schwendener, Michelle Kuo and Brian Sholis, among others, take place throughout the semester.
    As at most art schools, Rhode Island School of Design?s individual departments, and particularly its art and design wings, traditionally are kept at arm?s length from each other. While the focus on a single discipline is highly effective at creating specialists within each field, the complexities of contemporary cultural practice ? people working in fluid groups, jumping from one field to another, dealing with projects that involve multiple disciplines - creates a great demand for cross-disciplinary training. This is particularly true among graduate students, many of who are returning to school from working precisely in these kinds of complex situations. Working across fields allows students not only to work across skill-sets, but also to become accustom to the different ways of thinking that accompany different disciplines. For designers, the possibility of looking for questions - so typical of art practice, opens up new territory for exploration, while for artists, the challenge of working towards specific problems is often surprisingly fruitful.
    Course website link: http://departments.risd.edu/adcolab/
  • GRAD-055G

    COLLEGIATE STUDIO: LEARNING CENTERED TEACHING

    Faculty:

    Using RISD as a site for the exploration of strategies for studio-based teaching and learning is the goal of the course. It is designed for students who will be teaching during the course of study at RISD or who plan to teach after graduation. The course draws upon the varying expertise and teaching methodologies of RISD faculty and visiting faculty from other institutions to provide graduate students with models of practice. Learning to teach in a generative and attentive manner can bring teaching closer to one's studio practice. The course is composed of readings, reviews, discussion, project assignments, lectures, and peer presentations. The final outcome will be formation of a condensed teaching portfolio including a teaching philosophy, course proposals, a detailed syllabus, sample class assignments and assessment guides.
    This course may also be taken in any sequence with Collegiate Teaching: Preparation + Reflection.
    Graduate elective
    Also offered as ARTE 055G. Register into the course for which credit is desired.
  • GRAD-044G

    COLLEGIATE TEACHING: PREPARATION + REFLECTION

    Faculty:

    How can we add to the future enrichment of our disciplines? How do we make our future teaching a more meaningful practice? This semester-long professional practice course is for artists, designers, architects, and educators and is designed for students who will be teaching during their course of study at RISD and or who plan to teach in higher education after graduation. The course draws upon the varying expertise and pedagogical practices of RISD faculty and guests from all disciplines to provide graduate students with models of teaching that can inform their development as future faculty. The goal of this seminar is to introduce graduate students to reflective teaching principles and to provide an orientation to the collegiate teaching and learning experience. The course is composed of readings, reviews, discussions and Individual Teaching Consultations (ITCs), where students engage in microteaching sessions and receive feedback from faculty and peer observers. The major products resulting from the course include a personal statement of teaching philosophy and a proposal for a course description and course syllabus.
    This course maybe also be taken in any sequence with Collegiate Studio: Learning-Centered Teaching.
    Also offered as ARTE-044G.
  • GRAD-658G

    DRAWING OBJECTIVES: A GUIDED DRAWING SEMINAR

    Faculty:

    Drawing has been called the distillation of an idea. Drawing sensibilities pervade all visual media yet drawing can be independent of all other media. Can we make our drawing ventures have resonance? The goal is to understand drawing in a multivalent way through paced experiences and investigations via short research projects, three generative series and development of a sited-drawing plan. Methods will include teamed technical presentations of expertise or interest as well as examples of ancient and historical means of silverpoint, transfer drawings, panoramas and dioramas. Drawing epochs represented in the RISD Museum of Art, collection will be examined (through works by artists such as Wilfredo Lam, Gego, or the Rimpa period Korin Gafu.) Focused critiques, readings and guided and self-directed independent studio production are components. This seminar could be paired with the grad course Object Lessons.
    Graduate elective
    Also offered as a requirement for MA, ARTE 658G. Register into the course for which credit is desired.
  • GRAD-2312

    FROM IMMATERIAL TO MATERIAL

    Faculty:

    This course provides students with the skill to fully transform their 2D drafting skills into effective 3D forms. Through the use of large stationary machines, power tools, and hand tools, individuals will develop the ability to communicate their design skills into highly involved, tangible forms. Numerous hardware, fasteners, surface treatments, and finishes will be thoroughly covered throughout the semester.
    Open to Seniors and above
  • GRAD-078G

    FULL SCALE

    Faculty:

    This course focuses on the graduate level inquiry of wood-based construction designs and commensurate skills. Lighting and upholstery techniques as well as outside vendor protocols may be employed depending on the graduate student's design needs. Graduate students develop a multi-lateral skill set applicable to their area of study. Thesis concepts are often explored within this class. Students concentrate, in sequence, six weeks of studio-based learning of numerous techniques and skills followed by six weeks of a dedicated, full-scale, designed and executed piece. Located in the Center for Integrated Technologies (CIT), the Graduate Studies Wood Studio focuses on contemporary and traditional joinery, shaping, and bent lamination construction techniques. Surface treatments and finishing methods for metal and wood also will be covered throughout this class.
  • GRAD-152G

    GROUP CRITICAL / CRITICAL DIALOGUES

    Faculty:

    This course will serve as a forum for extended group critiques of the ongoing and self-initiated projects of its participants. While different disciplines have differing formats for critique, the practice of critique in this class will not be taken for granted. In general it will mean open-ended, generous, and rigorous analysis exchanged between peers. Through group critiques students will develop critical skills that will help them articulate the conceptual and formal premises of their work. In addition, the course will speculate on critique as a form, examining what it might mean and how it can be used from a variety of perspectives that will chart out a recent history of intellectual thought on the subject. The goal of this course, regardless of discipline, is to develop a cogent and critical understanding of your work that aid you in the elaboration and illumination of your practice and push the development of you ongoing practice.
    The seminar portion of the class will include examinations of artists, designers and architects tailored to fit each student's interests and related readings by: Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Bertolt Brecht, Judith Butler, Michel DeCerteau, Paul DeMan, Ricardo Dominguez, Umberto Eco, Paolo Friere, Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, Elizabeth Grosz, Stuart Hall, N. Katherine Hayles, Friedrich Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, and Raymond Williams, among others.
    Note: This hybrid seminar/studio course is scheduled for 5 hours. There will be some days when class may meet for 3 or 4 hours.
    Open to non majors
  • GRAD-123G

    IN THE FIELD: RESEARCH METHODS FOR ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS

    Faculty:

    In this course, graduate students learn about and practice an array of research methods that are variously used by human geographers as well as artists and designers who derive inspiration and content from human and/or nature-society interactions in space and place. Through readings, discussion, work "in the field", and practicum presentations, students explore issues of how to generate and interpret research data within the history and ethical challenges of field work in a variety of disciplines and how these issues might impact their own research for their thesis projects and beyond.

    Students critique and apply a variety of methods including interviewing; questionnaire surveying; participant observation; visual techniques (e.g., video, photography, drawing); locative media (GPS and cellular communications, etc.); cognitive mapping; archival research and landscape interpretation. Emphasis is placed on qualitative methods, though we will continuously explore the added value that hybrid qualitative/quantitative approaches bring to many research endeavors. Throughout the seminar, we also discuss several relevant, overarching themes such as reflexivity, representation, power and ethics, as well as activist roles that conscientious researchers can play.
    Graduate elective
  • GRAD-031G

    MAPPING THE INTELLIGENCE OF YOUR WORK

    Faculty:

    This seminar is for graduate students who are preparing their written thesis. Within the context of this writing-intensive course, we examine the thesis form as an expressive opportunity to negotiate a meaningful integration of our visual work, how we think about it, and how we wish to communicate it to others. In support of this exploration, weekly thematic writing sessions are offered to open the imaginative process and to stimulate creative thinking as a means of discovering the underlying intelligence of our work. In addition, we also engage in individual studio visits to identify and form a coherent 'voice' for the thesis, one that parallels our actual art involvement. Literary communications generated out of artists' process are also examined. The outcome of this intensive study is the completion of a draft of the thesis.
    Graduate elective
    Graduate level only.
  • GRAD-031G

    MAPPING THE INTELLIGENCE OF YOUR WORK

    Faculty:

    This seminar is for graduate students who are preparing their written thesis. Within the context of this writing-intensive course, we examine the thesis form as an expressive opportunity to negotiate a meaningful integration of our visual work, how we think about it, and how we wish to communicate it to others. In support of this exploration, weekly thematic writing sessions are offered to open the imaginative process and to stimulate creative thinking as a means of discovering the underlying intelligence of our work. In addition, we also engage in individual studio visits to identify and form a coherent 'voice' for the thesis, one that parallels our actual art involvement. Literary communications generated out of artists' process are also examined. The outcome of this intensive study is the completion of a draft of the thesis.
    Graduate elective
    Graduate level only.
  • GRAD-112G

    ORIGIN POINT: GRADUATE THESIS IDEATION WORKSHOP

    Faculty:

    The purpose of this seminar is to unearth a direction - an origin point - for your graduate thesis and to jump-start the writing process for the Master's written document. Organized as a series of writing intensive workshops, this forum will enable you to explore relevant ideas, themes, core values, and to conduct research in support of the inquiry process. The process involves seeking out and scrutinizing various angles of your perspective as an artist / designer. You will write from these angles to discover the emerging aspects of solutions that matter. Each class will suggest a specific theme or principle of inflection to precipitate what is needed for the work's progress. Included will be several forms of writing: profile, review, narrative essay, poem, report, extended caption, as well as several levels of research: journal and book reading, archival and fieldwork, and conversations and interviews. Emphasis will also be on maps of meaning that will be used as a way to further processes of ideation and understanding. At the conclusion of the seminar you will have a conceptual focus for your thesis that is clearly formulated visually and verbally. With this is place, the summer months can then be used productively to further the breadth and depth of this initial idea through open-ended exploration and self-generated work.
    Graduate elective; Available to first-year graduate students
  • GRAD-101G

    PUBLIC ART: HISTORY, THEORY AND PRACTICE

    Faculty:

    Public Art: History, Theory, and Practice

    This course offers the opportunity to discover the creative and career possibilities in the growing interdisciplinary field of public art and public practice. It is both a seminar and a studio.
    During the first half of the course, students research and present aspects of each weekly topic, including: pivotal events and artworks that formed the history of public art from the early 20th century to the present; individual artists' work and their approaches to site-specificity; current debates around defining the public, public space, and community; temporary vs. permanent work; controversies in public art; memorials, monuments, and anti-monuments; a case study of design team practice in a public/private development; public art administration models, among others.

    During the second half, students work corroboratively and individually on proposals and projects: a proposal for a memorial; proposals for a specific site in Providence; and temporary artworks sited in Providence.

    A large on-line database of readings, websites, and other resources will be provided. There will be readings, videos, and discussions, as well as class time for research, project development, and group meetings. Contact Info: janetzweig@me.com
    Graduate elective.
  • GRAD-101G

    PUBLIC ART: HISTORY, THEORY AND PRACTICE

    Faculty:

    Public Art: History, Theory, and Practice

    This course offers the opportunity to discover the creative and career possibilities in the growing interdisciplinary field of public art and public practice. It is both a seminar and a studio.
    During the first half of the course, students research and present aspects of each weekly topic, including: pivotal events and artworks that formed the history of public art from the early 20th century to the present; individual artists' work and their approaches to site-specificity; current debates around defining the public, public space, and community; temporary vs. permanent work; controversies in public art; memorials, monuments, and anti-monuments; a case study of design team practice in a public/private development; public art administration models, among others.

    During the second half, students work corroboratively and individually on proposals and projects: a proposal for a memorial; proposals for a specific site in Providence; and temporary artworks sited in Providence.

    A large on-line database of readings, websites, and other resources will be provided. There will be readings, videos, and discussions, as well as class time for research, project development, and group meetings. Contact Info: janetzweig@me.com
    Graduate elective.
  • GRAD-016G

    SEM:ART SCHOOL HISTORIES

    Faculty:

    This Graduate seminar-co-taught by a member of RISD's Department of History of Art and Visual Culture and the Director of Education at the RISD Museum--offers students opportunities to think historically and critically about the institution we're all part of: art school. We will explore its origins, practices, values, politics, and poetics as well as the relevance of its past for the future.
    Graduate Elective
  • GRAD-015G

    THE ARTIST AND THE MUSEUM

    Faculty:

    This seminar will consider the various ways in which manifold artists from Marcel Duchamp through Joseph Cornell, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Louise Lawler, Fred Wilson, Mark Dion and the Atlas Group have made aspects of the museum a subject matter of their work. Alternatively engaged in a critique of museum practice or romantic evocations of the past, many artists for the past seventy years have addressed the staging devices that museums utilize to confer aura on the work of art as well as the makeup of their collections, categorization and behind the scenes storerooms and archives. This history will be linked to an expanding body of writing that has emerged in the past three decades given to the differing discursive narratives that museums and their archives employ. Writers such as Sigmund Freud, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Rosalind Krauss, Douglas Crimp, Ralph Rugoff, and Susan Stewart. will be considered.
    Graduate Elective
  • GRAD-153G

    TIME / TECHNICS / MEDIA

    Faculty:

    "I know very well what time is," writes Augustine in the Confessions, "until the moment you ask me, and then I do not know." This philosophical candor was much admired by Ludwig Wittgenstein, who advised that what we cannot speak of we must therefore remain silent. Time, in itself imperceptible, is rendered salient through a variety of intercessionary technologies, utilizing sand, shadow, water, or more complex kinetic devices, to make visible, or audible, its 'passage.' Time can be measured through the body in any number of ways: the physical aging of our bodies, our kinetic movements, the performance of our everyday actions, and our changing outward personal style or disposition. Aesthetic forms, scientific and literary productions 'unfold' in time, moving toward an inexorable conclusion, end, closure or renewal. Phenomena persist, endure, and dissipate. In our contemporaneity time-based media are ubiquitous, and the intimacy between, for example, a naturally produced utterance and its technical reproducibility has become coextensive.
    In this seminar we will begin with an inquiry into the nature of time, beginning with the pre-Socratics, carrying through to Kant, Heidegger, Agamben and Stiegler; at the same time we will also examine the notion of 'technical-being' or techné, contrasted with biological, living being, bios, zöon. But the primary orientation of this seminar will address the medial or technical and aesthetic register of time-based processes and devices. From the camera obscura to telephony, from the incunabula of the proto-cinema to current digital globalizations, we will explore both the materialities and the theories of time, technics and media, and the complexities they entail.
  • GRAD-026G

    WORK, MONEY, LOVE: PRACTICES OF ART & DESIGN

    Faculty:

    Funded by Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and open to all graduate students in all disciplines, this professional practices course explores models, philosophies, strategies, and adaptive skills crucial to developing and communicating self-aware, diverse, sustainable, and evolving practices in art and design. The course is arranged in thematic parts - Work, Money, and Love. Work explores labor, manufacturing/fabrication, studio space and work environments, and diversified practice. Money tackles legal and financial literacy, markets, grants, and fundraising. And Love invites students into writing as discovery, collaboration, ethics, and engagement. We will act as a research group on professional issues in art and design - to, as Charles Eames once put it, "arrive at as well as convey insight." The goal is to experiment in shared, flexible forms of pedagogy in which we support one another in thinking critically and expansively about the work we want to do, the ideas we want to cultivate, and the lives we choose to live. In addition to the faculty of the course, visiting artists, designers, and other practitioners provide presentations, workshops, activities, and assignments over sustained meetings to broaden and deepen levels of inquiry, discovery, dialogue, and exchange-based experience.

    Graduate elective
Grad Studies Foreground Image 5
A gallery visitor checks out one of the many interactive installations often found at the grad shows.