Art: Studio Art

"We must learn to think with God."

Education at The Principia p. 121

David D. Coughtry, Professor

Daniel D. Kistler, Associate Professor

Duncan Martin, Professor

Danne P. Rhaesa, Assistant Professor

Paul B. Ryan, Professor

The Studio Art major at Principia College is energetic and progressive. Embracing the spirit of flow and diverse creativity that signify the contemporary art world, it promotes aesthetic and conceptual exploration while encouraging excellence. The Studio Art major welcomes all students to explore topics and processes in art and to tap into their ability to work creatively. The program is housed in the Voney Art Center, a state-of-the-art facility with open and light-filled studios, located on the edge of the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. The Center includes the James K. Schmidt Gallery where students and visiting professional artists exhibit their work.   

Courses in Studio Art focus on the process of making art, art’s inherent capacity to express content and ideas, the roles of art in society, and the function of art to enrich the individual creatively and intellectually. Studying and making art within the context of a liberal arts college like Principia reflects contemporary art’s interdisciplinary practices, encouraging links to the explorations, discoveries, and ideas of other academic disciplines. This informed approach fosters new ways of seeing and understanding the world while cultivating creative connections.     

The Studio Art faculty are all experienced artist-teachers. Each faculty member is an exhibiting artist or practicing designer devoted to teaching. Class sizes are small, ranging from about four to eighteen students. Professors give substantial time to working individually with students, taking sincere interest in each student’s current and future success, including graduate work and professional careers. 

In the Studio Art major, students learn the following: perceptual skills, analytical and critical competence, technical skills related to specific media, the importance of process, creative problem-solving, various means of artistic conceptualization, and the context of historical and contemporary art. Because of the importance of process and sequential learning in the visual arts, students desiring to major in Studio Art are encouraged to take foundation courses—ARTS 105 Ideas and Visual Form, ARTS 150 Drawing I, ARTS 185 Survey of Contemporary Art, and ARTS 230 Color Studies, and one of the four 100-level art history courses—during their freshman year or early in their sophomore year. This will put them on the optimal learning track in the major.

When declaring the Studio Art major, the student will also select one of the following areas of emphasis: drawing, painting, sculpture, graphic design, or extended/alternative media. The culmination of the major is the capstone exhibition: the production and presentation of a cohesive body of work that represents in-depth investigation of a theme or idea.  Affording the opportunity for independent scholarship and creative work, the capstone exhibition is very helpful in preparing the student for professional activity and/or graduate work. Though a professional internship in the arts is not a requirement for graduation, its value cannot be overstated; students are encouraged to pursue an internship, especially during the summers, to supplement the studio program.

To receive transfer credit toward studio art requirements, the student must submit a catalog description of the course along with a representative portfolio of work produced in that course. Up to 18 semester hours of transfer work may be credited towards the requirement for an art major and six for a minor.

Elective credit is granted for successful completion of Advanced Placement examinations in studio art. For consideration towards the art major requirements, the submission of a portfolio is required.

Most studio art classes carry lab fees that are published in the course description section of the catalog. Some of these fees include the cost of classroom materials. Most courses will require the purchase of some personal art supplies.

Students majoring in art may minor in art history. The three art history courses required for the major in art will count toward both the art major and the art history minor. 

For any repeatable course that is used as an elective for the ARTS major or minor, a maximum of six semester hours may be counted for any one course. Any repeatable course may only be used once within the area of emphasis.

Departmental Learning Outcomes

  1. Assimilation: Develop a disciplined artistic practice
    1. Engage in a discipline-specific creative process.
    2. Demonstrate intellectual agility through imaginative problem-solving.
    3. Demonstrate informed use of visual media.
    4. Create work that demonstrates awareness of historical and contemporary cultural context.
    5. Show evidence of mastery and individuality.
  2. Expression: Organize visual elements to construct meaning
    1. Construct complex systems of form.
    2. Apply compositional theory (e.g. space, volume, color).
    3. Solve visual problems.
    4. Articulate the connection between form and content.
  3. Interpretation: The Critique of visual work
    1. Effectively interpret and evaluate various source materials.
    2. Assess visual compositions and articulate the relationship of subject, form, and content.
    3. Develop an informed individual point of view.
    4. Be able to defend claims with evidence.
    5. Address collective meanings of art by questioning the history, language, and contemporary trends.

College Wide Student Learning Outcomes of Principia College: Defining a Liberal Arts Education

The curricular and co-curricular programs at Principia College are designed for students to be lifelong learners, thinkers, and problem-solvers, to draw out spiritual and moral qualities indispensable to growth in Christian Science, and to cultivate an understanding of service to the Cause of Christian Science in meeting the global needs of the 21st century. To accomplish this, the College has established the following outcomes for its graduates.

Guided by Principle, Principia College students will demonstrate:

  1. Depth and breadth of knowledge
  2. Critical and creative thinking
  3. Effective communication
  4. Intellectual inquiry and engagement
  5. Active commitment to community and global citizenship

ARTS 105 Ideas and Visual Form 3.0 SH [GEA]

Introduction to the components of visual expression: subject matter, form, and content. Topics include composition, perspective theory, drawing, three-dimensional construction, and basic color exploration. Practice includes studio as well as on-location work outside of regular class hours.
Class Level Restriction: Freshman and Sophomore only

ARTS 150 Drawing I 3.0 SH [GEA]

Continued study of line and value including additional perspective and composition studies, focusing primarily on the development of facility and perception. Emphasizes both technical and abstract observations.

ARTS 170 Graphic Design I 3.0 SH [GEA]

In this course students will learn the foundational skills of creating graphic design using the principles of form and structure, and explore how graphic content shapes the structure of visual compositions. Demonstrations and instruction will engage students in developing conceptual thinking and visual problem-solving skills, observational/presentation skills, knowledge of basic typography, and design software tools.

ARTS 175 Print Design 3.0 SH [  ]

The course provides students with the foundational skills across different applications and media types. Develops skills in digital imaging concepts and techniques, in using/altering photographs, illustrations, and type to create advertisements, magazines, brochures, and direct mail. Fundamental principles of graphic design are stressed. Students practice skills individually and in teams. Critical class for students considering a career in graphic design.

ARTS 185 Survey of Contemporary Art 3.0 SH [GEA]

This course considers the aesthetic and conceptual vigor and diversity of postmodern and contemporary art practices from the 1960s through the present. Required for all Studio Art majors, it is also open to any student interested in contemporary art. This course is not a hands-on course where objects are created. Learning occurs through reading, writing, slides, films, and class discussion.

ARTS 195 Professional Practice I 1.0 SH [  ]

Prepares the major to meet professional expectations for a career in the visual arts including professional writing skills, beginning the artist’s statement, photographing artwork for a digital portfolio, and beginning construction of the artist’s website to assist the artist in exhibition(s) of their work. An expectation of this course is attendance at art exhibitions and events selected by the instructor.
Class Level Restriction: Sophomore and Junior only
Field of Study Restrictions: Studio Art Majors only.

ARTS 196 Professional Practice II 1.0 SH [  ]

Advances professional skills for a career in the visual arts including refining professional writing skills, revising and enhancing artist’s statement, adding to artist’s digital portfolio, and continuing development of artist’s website for presentation to the public. Grant-writing skills for professional exhibition will be included. An expectation of this course is attendance at art exhibitions and events selected by the instructor.
Prerequisite: ARTS 195.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only
Field of Study Restrictions: Studio Art Majors only.

ARTS 203 Sculpture I 3.0 SH [  ]

An introduction to sculpture with emphasis on understanding and manipulating three-dimensional space using form and scale. Students explore various processes, materials, techniques, tools, and studio safety. Emphasis is on the development of a personal visual vocabulary and the cultivation of individual creative expression. Includes an historical overview spanning ancient artifacts to contemporary works.

ARTS 210 Oil Painting I 3.0 SH [  ]

An introduction to technical and formal approaches to painting within the oil medium. Practice includes studio as well as on-location work, with emphasis on color-value control and composition. The class will study and emulate how painters think or see by examining issues of artistic perception and interpretation considered significant in contemporary and past painting traditions.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105 or ARTS 150.

ARTS 220 Watercolor Painting I 3.0 SH [GEA]

Introduction to various watercolor techniques and the thought process which accompanies issues of painting. Practical emphasis on composition, color and value relationships, and coordination with a transparent medium. This studio course will require that a majority of work be completed outside of the studio class time.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105 or ARTS 150.

ARTS 230 Color Studies 3.0 SH [GEA]

Using color as a means of conveying individuality through art is unparalleled in context with any other element of design. Studio assignments and lecture notes focus on the artistry, physics, chemistry, psychology and metaphysics of color. Students build a concise portfolio demonstrating an understanding of color interaction and perception.

ARTS 250 Drawing II 3.0 SH [  ]

Moving beyond the basic skills gained in Drawing I, the central purpose of this course is to expand the student's concept and practice of drawing -- that is, to enlarge the student's pool of sources for ideas and to develop an understanding of the virtually limitless approaches to drawing. This will occur technically, conceptually, and aesthetically.
Prerequisite: ARTS 150.

ARTS 251 The Language of Drawing 3.0-4.0 SH [GEA]

An immersive study of on-location drawing practices and techniques where drawing becomes a tool for observation and recording of cultures, historical sites, and landscapes. Drawing will also be explored as a vehicle to communicate content. This course develops skills in composition, observation, facility with mixed-media, drawing terminology, critiquing and perspective. May be repeated if associated with a different abroad/field program.

ARTS 255 Field Research Journal 2.0-3.0 SH [  ]

An in-depth focused study of techniques and processes for visual observation and recording of information in the field. Mapping, writing, memory drawing, diagraming, and other methods will be explored, learned, and used. Students use the journal to daily record and organize data, problem solve ideas, and prepare ideas for communicable visual solutions. Offered only on abroad programs.

ARTS 256 Exhibition Project Management 1.0 SH [  ]

This course is designed to develop skills in the layout and design of a visual exhibition. Students will apply the general principles of effective communication, develop skills in organizing and managing content, and develop skills in working as a creative team. An understanding of planning, research, and audience will be emphasized. May be taken up to three times.

ARTS 265 Typography 3.0 SH [  ]

An introduction to the study of the letterform as a foundational skill in graphic design. The course focuses on how typography can be used as a communicative device as well as a graphic, compositional and expressive element. Projects will explore letterform anatomy, letterform analysis, measuring systems, typographic identification, and practical issues of setting and using type effectively.
Prerequisite: ARTS 170.

ARTS 270 Graphic Design II 3.0 SH [  ]

This course builds on the foundational skills developed in Graphic Design I and becomes more technical and intricate with the media/assignments. Emphasis is placed on the design process, the quality of the concepts, and designed outcomes. Projects explore large/small scale design, visual identity and communication, typography, information design, and package design. Students practice skills both individually and in teams.
Prerequisite: ARTS 170.

ARTS 277 Photography as Fine Art 3.0 SH [  ]

This course is an exploration of contemporary visual artists with particular emphasis on photography based work. Students will explore how and why this work can or is influencing their artistic practice. Students will develop skills in conceptualization, post production image manipulation, and make images with a strong aesthetic focus. The overall goal is to develop a cohesive fine art portfolio.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105 or ARTS 150 or ARTS 170 or MCOM 181.

ARTS 280 Printmaking 3.0 SH [  ]

An introduction to basic printmaking areas: relief printing, mono-printing, and other contemporary printing methods. Emphasis is placed on the student's original development of ideas and imagery. Aesthetic and theoretical issues concerning the influence of digital imagery will also be explored. A printmaking portfolio is the major outcome of the course.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105 or ARTS 150.

ARTS 285 Illustration 3.0 SH [  ]

An introduction to the broad based thinking skills required to illustrate verbal communication in various manifestations. Several formats will be utilized reflecting the instructor's strengths: book, poster design, musical interpretation, scientific rendering, and communication arts. Mixed media will frequently be engaged. Emphasis is on the book as an art form - as a valuable professional activity.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105 or ARTS 150 or ARTS 220.

ARTS 290 Web Design 3.0 SH [  ]

Introduction to the design/management of web sites with an emphasis on the development of design strategy processes. This course builds skills in terminology, design principles, and visual problem solving. Students learn skills in organizing information, loading and maintaining web pages, applying design theory and page layout, overcoming technical challenges, and publishing a portfolio site showcasing the class projects.
Prerequisite: ARTS 170.

ARTS 295 Sustainable Design 3.0 SH [  ]

This course is based on the analysis of green design in the built environment. The course content and organization model the breadth of societal cooperation necessary to solve sustainability problems while it explores the principles of current energy strategies. The course also teaches basic visual communication skills, drafting practices, discussion techniques, and culminates in a build-design project.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105.
Class Level Restriction: Sophomore and Junior and Senior only

ARTS 298 Designing in Space 3.0 SH [  ]

Examines a specific topic in studio art practice that includes spatial elements such as those used in kinetic art, architectural and product design, and installation and public art. As a studio course, it helps students cultivate a creative practice that incorporates multi-disciplinary elements in their personal artwork; it also includes exposure to current dimensional themes. This course is built around the special expertise of the faculty. Open to all with at least one previous studio art course. A specific topic can only be taken once.

ARTS 299 Experimental New Media Seminar 3.0 SH [  ]

Examines a specific topic in studio art practices that may include sound, video, photography, motion, design, and installation. The course is built around the special expertise of the faculty. The title will be extended to describe the current topic. May be repeated once up to a total of six semester hours provided the topics differ.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105 or ARTS 150 or ARTS 170.

ARTS 301 Portraiture 3.0 SH [  ]

For the student seeking experience in drawing the human form. Focus includes grounding in specific drawing skills, including ability to represent proportion, anatomic architecture, volume, and experience with various mediums. Learning about major practitioners of the genre will instill an appreciation for portraiture - it's usefulness and influence as an important art form for content in past and present art.
Prerequisite: ARTS 150 or permission of the instructor.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only

ARTS 302 Figure Studies 3.0 SH [  ]

The human figure is used as a vehicle for exploring issues of fine drawing. Includes proportion, anatomy, gesture, content, and some historical background. May be repeated with instruction at increasingly advanced levels.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105 or ARTS 150.
Class Level Restriction: Sophomore and Junior and Senior only

ARTS 304 Sculpture II 3.0 SH [  ]

Fundamental principles of modeling from a live model are the focus. These include studies in proportion, surface interpretation, and gesture. Students will engage with historical, contemporary, and aesthetic aspects of figurative expression. All assignments will culminate in a conceptual figurative work for the student's portfolio and include the technical knowledge of mold making.
Prerequisite: ARTS 105.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only

ARTS 310 Oil Painting II 3.0 SH [  ]

Builds on knowledge gained during the introductory course. Oil II constitutes a further development of skills and image making paired with strong emphasis on research, critical discourse, and experimentation in handling of medium. Students will develop research and production models that reflect contemporary painting practices.
Prerequisite: ARTS 210.

ARTS 320 Watercolor Painting II 3.0 SH [  ]

Focused introduction to the process of developing large studio paintings based upon varied field observations, advanced watercolor techniques, and critique skills. Concentration on development of individual style or "point of view." This studio course will require that a majority of work be completed outside of the studio class time.
Prerequisite: ARTS 220.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only

ARTS 325 Art and Critical Theory 3.0 SH [  ]

This course examines significant ideas and issues in art theory and criticism from 1930 through the present. Learning about a range of critical lenses from formalism through post-structuralism and post-colonialism, students will explore foundational and contemporary texts about art. The readings embrace an emphasis on the relation of art to society. Strongly recommended for students applying to graduate school.
Prerequisite: ARTH 237.
Class Level Restriction: Sophomore and Junior and Senior only.

ARTS 330 Studio Seminar 1.0-6.0 SH [  ]

Group study of selected topics in art. The title will be extended to describe the current topic. May be offered for variable credit from one to six semester hours. May be repeated up to a total of six semester hours provided the topics differ.
Class Level Restriction: Sophomore and Junior and Senior only.

ARTS 333 Painting III 3.0 SH [  ]

This advanced course engages the student in the practice and process of painting in relation to contemporary and historical approaches. Various painting strategies are introduced and investigated and inform the development of individual painting projects. ARTS 333 offers solid preparation for working on the capstone exhibition.
Prerequisite: ARTS 310 or ARTS 320.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only

ARTS 350 Drawing III 3.0 SH [  ]

An intense exploration of the relationship of visual language to content in art via mixed drawing media. Production of several different series formats and a focused preparation of a portfolio quality series are covered during the term. Preparation of an aesthetic statement.
Prerequisite: ARTS 150 and either ARTS 250 or one painting course.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only

ARTS 360 Figurative Painting 3.0 SH [  ]

For the student who benefits from painting and is ready to revisit the figure within new technical and aesthetic contexts in painting. The first half is comprised of working directly from the model with frequent critiques. Includes exploration of conceptual content and creation of a large scale painting. May be repeated once at an advanced level of instruction.
Prerequisite: ARTS 210 or ARTS 220, and ARTS 302.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only
Field of Study Restrictions: Studio Art Majors only.

ARTS 370 Advanced Design Practices 3.0 SH [  ]

Examination of professional graphic design practices within the context of a design consulting firm or as a free-lance graphic designer. Specialized activites/problems that commonly occur inside a design office are explored. Students work in design teams, design over a network, learn research methods, and create a portfolio of forms/contracts used in the field. Instructional methods: lectures, discussion/critiques, demonstrations, and readings.
Prerequisite: ARTS 170 and ARTS 270.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only

ARTS 383 Sculpture III 3.0 SH [  ]

Large-scale public sculpture is a class wherein each student designs and builds an original sculpture. Working through a conceptual beginning, developing a plan, completing drawings, forming a budget, and writing a proposal. Each student will construct it, site it, and install their own approved creation. This process places emphasis on individual and career development.
Prerequisite: ARTS 304.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.

ARTS 390 Advanced Web Design 3.0 SH [  ]

The course builds on the skills developed in ARTS 290 and expands those skills with more intricate and complex problems. The course will include focus on UX and UI design. The course will also include projects that develop skills in working with CSS and HTML.
Prerequisite: ARTS 290.

ARTS 401 Creative Research Project 3.0-6.0 SH [  ]

An in-depth focused study in the visual arts shaped by previous studio art course work. Teaching methods include critical readings in professional art journals, open studio practice, weekly critique, and museum/studio field trips. Students present research and creative output in critique sessions with other students and at least one studio art faculty. May be offered for variable credit from three to six semester hours. May be taken twice up to a total of six semester hours.
Prerequisite: six ARTS courses.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.

ARTS 402 On-Location Studies 1.0-6.0 SH [  ]

Offered by permission of the program faculty to students enrolled in field-oriented classes such as internships or off-campus independents. Course work provides opportunity for in-depth, individual research based upon previous studio classes at Principia College. May be offered for variable credit from one to six semester hours. May be repeated up to a total of six semester hours.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.

ARTS 404 Advanced Series 1.0-6.0 SH [  ]

A course designed for advanced students who would benefit from the production of a cohesive body of work, commonly referred to as a "series." The student prepares a portfolio which reveals consistent use of visual language, content-based purpose, and exhibition caliber results. The class functions as an independent with the addition of a seminar component. Students apply for the class by submitting a written application to the art department identifying the series format options. May be offered for variable credit from one to six semester hours. May be repeated up to a total of six semester hours. For junior and senior students who have completed eight or more art major requirements.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only
Field of Study Restrictions: Art, Studio Art Majors only.

ARTS 499 Capstone Exhibition 3.0,6.0 SH [  ]

The capstone is an ambitious project preparing the student for professional activity and/or graduate work. The student will produce and exhibit a cohesive body of work that represents investigation of a theme or idea. This course is typically a two-semester course. Will receive a star (*) grade until the semester in which the exhibition is installed.
Class Level Restriction: Senior only
Field of Study Restrictions: Studio Art Majors only.