MCAD emphasizes a collaborative process and working with students from all majors. For this Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, you will take courses in several different areas, including a core focus, adding up to 120 total credits required for graduation.
Required Courses - These are the core courses that every Fine Arts Studio student takes.
Foundation Studies - These classes help you build a solid art background to become a well-rounded student.
Studio Electives - Throughout your studies you can choose from several studio electives that will give you hands-on time.
Humanities and Sciences - These are the classes you can take to round out your experience at MCAD; deepen your creative practice and fulfill non-studio requirements for a minor.
Choose an introductory studio major class at 2000 level.
Choose two intermediate within the same major that you took an introductory class.
This class explores space and site as a means of aesthetic communication. Object-based installations, interventionist strategies, and designed or created environments are examined. Topics include systems approach, audience, interactive and experiential work, and documentation as art. All media are considered, including object, image, sound, and language. A variety of ideation techniques are introduced, including traditional maquettes and photo-collage site proposals.
This is an interdisciplinary problem-solving class based on the theoretical body, rather than the figure, as a conceptual starting point. Topics center around postmodern themes that concern the body as a place for ideation. Students are encouraged to experiment with medium as it relates to their particular areas of interest. Critical readings, discussions, presentations, project proposals, and statements inform assignments.
Working with the Collection is an interdisciplinary studio course that concentrates on the holdings of an individual museum and the artist's response to it. In the first half of the course, students visit with the curators and exhibition designers to understand the process of collecting, and then proceed to work with the study and exhibition collections. The second half of the semester concentrates on studio work in response to the collection, culminating in an exhibition.
This studio course covers contemporary and historical issues pertaining to art in public places, public art, public process, and multidisciplinary collaboration. Students investigate both “site-specific” and “site as venue” public works through individual and collaborative projects and proposals. All media are considered appropriate for inclusion in the public realm. Design, planning, and presentation techniques include the RFQ, RFP, preparation of proposals, public presentations, design and presentation drawings, scale-model building, site planning, and logistics. Students can create public works to be installed in the MCAD sculpture garden. This course is made possible in part by Donna and Cargill MacMillan Jr.
This interdisciplinary studio course focuses on the use of appropriated imagery, materials, and concepts as both a source of inspiration and as incorporated material. Within this context, students will develop imagery and content while exploring historical and contemporary themes and concepts related to appropriation. An overview of the ethics and legalities of such practices, including a reckoning with extractive methodologies of cultural appropriation will also be discussed. In addition to artistic explorations, each project will be accompanied by readings and writing assignments to support and expand on those concepts. Lectures, visiting artists, studio visits, and group critiques will all be a regular component of the course.
Ideas of visual storytelling and narrative are explored in this interdisciplinary course. Emphasis is placed on the deconstruction of linear storytelling devices as a way to build deeper lateral associations. Topics include personal mythology, liminal meaning, and collective storytelling. The history of allegory, folklore, fable, and myth are covered. Projects extend through personal, political, and social spheres and are developed through studio assignments, historical and contemporary image surveys, writing exercises, critical readings, and field trips.
In this course students plan and implement projects in collaboration with community partners to express identity or sense of place, address concerns, and support local aspirations through the arts. Topics covered include surveying contemporary and historical arts-based community projects, classroom training in group work facilitation, theory and criticism in the field, cultural diversity and social justice issues, and grant writing. Taking this course is an exciting way to earn credit while building relationships with the greater Twin Cities community through the development of art and design works.
What does the ecological future of this planet look like? What role will artists play in envisioning our environment, both locally and globally? This cross-disciplinary course combines studio work with research and writing about the current phase of the climate crisis. We will examine the intersection between the rhetoric surrounding the “end of Art” and the “end of Nature” in the late 20th century. What does it mean for us as makers that these categories have imploded and/or expanded? How do artists construct and alter environments through their work? Students will research an ecological issue or question that informs their vision of the future, and then explore these implications through writing and creating artwork. This work will be done from an informed perspective that acknowledges the past and present inequities surrounding land use, water use, and ecological damage in Minneapolis, particularly along the nearby Mississippi River. This class will be a combination of lectures and readings by artists, ecologists, and urban planners, as well as site visits, research, short writings, and studio work.
This course is for the advanced student who is interested in developing a self-motivated, sustained body of work and an understanding of the relationships between the formal, conceptual, and historical aspects of painting and drawing. By examining their own studio practice in relation to current topics in the field, students expand their perspectives while developing singular bodies of work. An additional goal of this course is to develop critical thinking skills through the painting and drawing process. Each student proposes a course of investigation, subject to approval. Studio practice is supported by individual and group critiques, guest critiques, writing exercises, and readings on artists, criticism, and theory.
In this course, students with a working understanding of the relationships among a variety of disciplines develop imagery and content through studio work and discussions on contemporary issues. Examining their own studio practice in relation to current topics in contemporary interdisciplinary studio practice, students expand their perspectives while developing a self-motivated, sustained body of work. Studio practice is supported by the development of critical thinking skills, individual and group critiques, guest critiques, writing exercises, and readings on artists, criticism, and theory.
This course is for the advanced student who is interested in developing a self-motivated, sustained body of work through an understanding of the relationships between the formal, conceptual, and contextual aspects of sculptural form. Examining their own studio practice in relation to current topics in the field, students expand their perspectives while developing their work. Studio practice is supported by development of critical thinking skills, individual and group critiques, guest critiques, writing exercises, and readings covering artists, criticism, and theory.
In this course, students develop imagery and content through studio work and discussions of contemporary print, paper, and book media. By examining their own studio practice in relation to current topics in the field, students expand their perspectives while developing new work. This course is for the advanced student who is interested in developing a self-motivated, sustained body of work and an understanding of the relationships between the formal, conceptual, and historical aspects of print, paper, and book. Studio practice is supported by development of critical thinking skills, individual and group critiques, guest critiques, writing exercises, and readings covering artists, criticism, and theory.
Critical Studies examines the relationship between art, culture, and student work. This examination is related to many forms, including the aesthetic, political, social, and philosophical components that exist within works of art. Students focus on making work in the context of cultural issues. The cross-disciplinary composition of this course increases the depth of discussions and critiques. May be repeated for elective credit with a different instructor.
Choose to pursue an internship or an additional studio elective
This course addresses the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the contemporary art world. Topics include writing for professional opportunities, exhibitions, the documenting and marketing of work, website development, residencies and graduate schools, copyright and tax issues, jobs in education, and studio/business startup concerns. Students engage in a variety of individual and group projects, including curating an off-campus exhibition. Course faculty, guest lecturers, and visiting artist presentations connect abstract information with real-world experience.
During their senior year, each fine arts studio major is required to develop and complete a substantial body of work in a specific field. This course provides a forum for the critical evaluation of this work and curatorial guidance in preparation for the Commencement Exhibition. Course content includes critical readings, position paper, individual and group discussion, and informational meetings.
Foundation: 2D is an introduction to creative thinking that develops students’ skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. An emphasis is placed on exploring new ways to read and see the world, as well as new ways to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.
This course is an introduction to understanding of visual creation for the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, information, lectures, and discussions appropriate to promote the balanced fusion of practice and theory.
Foundation: Drawing 1 is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the college. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior space, and landscape.
Foundation: Drawing 2 is an observationally based drawing course designed to reinforce and develop the basic drawing skills established in Foundation: Drawing 1. Students work with a variety of subjects, including a substantial amount of drawing from the figure. In addition to working from direct observation, students explore drawing as a tool for invention, conceptualization, and idea development. The course also affords students an opportunity to investigate drawing materials in more breadth and depth than in Foundation: Drawing 1.
Students are introduced to digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, Gray Studio, and Media Center, along with other digital resources. Students use a variety of software and hardware to learn the basics of working with recorded media, including video, sound, and photography, as well as developing critical language for discussing media and media artists.
Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as an artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs.
Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. Contemporary Practice introduces students to the foundations, variety, and tools of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create professional presentations of their work. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines.
Choose BFA studio courses to take as electives; amount determined by your major.
The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, cultural, and historical transformations in art history from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century. This course helps students develop critical tools for the interpretation and understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion.
This course introduces students to issues in modern art, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics may include the expanding audience for art, the transformation of the art market, the impact of new technologies, the changing status of the artist, and the role of art in society. This course is taught as a seminar with some lecture.
Key to the creative and critical growth of the engaged, successful artist is participation in a culture of writing and inquiry. Students in this course focus on the kinds of writing they will encounter and produce in their coursework at MCAD and as creative professionals. Regular writing workshops allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Students explore a variety of texts and objects through class assignments, and then develop clear compelling essays employing a variety of rhetorical and narrative strategies.
Creative or professional writing elective
Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning classes increase students’ appreciation for the power of scientific and quantitative approaches to knowing the world.
6 credits of histories, places, philosophies electives
The Liberal Arts Advanced Seminar enables students to pursue their own research and writing goals within a seminar setting. Projects are student-originated and consist of both a written piece and a public presentation. Class sessions are discussion-based and interactive. Group learning is emphasized
Using a global and historical perspective, this course examines the rise and spread of European colonialism and its impact on artistic practices in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Through a series of case studies, students will explore the ways in which European forms of image-making underwrote and facilitated the colonial project and the multiple modes through which picturing practices oﬀered a venue for both colonizer and colonized to articulate, define, and forge political and social relationships. In each case, indigenous and hybrid forms of art-making will be highlighted alongside European forms in order to understand how the visual arts served as an expression of identity, cultural belonging, and self-fashioning. Topics will be explored by urban centers: Paris, Algiers, Shanghai,
Mumbai (Bombay), Cairo, Istanbul, Port-au-Prince, New Orleans, and other sites.
Most Native American tribes do not have a word in their languages for “artist,” yet the arts are a living part of both daily life and ceremonial tradition. Focusing on the works of selected tribes, students in this course look at Native American art, architecture, and aesthetics. Emphasis is placed on the nineteenth century to the present. The impact of outside forces on continuities and changes in traditional forms is also explored. Classes are primarily lecture with some discussion.
This course examines the art of Asia from its beginnings to the present day. It involves a regional approach, focusing on representative works from India, Southeast Asia, China, and Japan. While regional characteristics are emphasized, cross-cultural influences are also studied. Through a variety of media, including sculpture, architecture, and painting, students gain an understanding of the broad themes and concepts that run throughout Asian art. Students consider the role of religion, for example, and gain a basic comprehension of Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Islam, Taoism, and Shinto. The structure of the class includes lectures, large and small group discussions, and visits to the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
This course will examine Islamic art and architecture through religious, historical, political, and cultural practices from the seventh century to the present. Combining a thematic approach (such as kingship, gift exchange, identity, etc.) with the more traditional chronological and geographical approaches, this course will trace the visual and material culture of Islam and its global influence
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the visual art of African Americans from the Colonial period to the present. The course examines a variety of visual media from painting, sculpture, and photography to popular culture objects and mass media images. In addition, students critically examine the ways in which the constructed meanings of "blackness" intersect with representational practices of gender, sexuality, and class, as well as the training and education of artists, public and private patronage, and the history of arts criticism and art history. Class sessions include both lectures and discussions.
This course examines the impact and effects of globalization on the visual culture of the Atlantic world (defined by Europe, Africa, and the Americas) from the period of the Columbian encounter to the contemporary moment. Students examine the circulation and exchange of goods, ideas, knowledge, culture, and peoples across the Atlantic world through an investigation of visual representations, performance, and collecting practices. The course narrative is guided by thematic issues of gender, race, the politics of display, and national and cultural identities, tracing the movement of visual cultures across the Atlantic through individual case studies. This course fulfills a Histories, Places and Philosophies requirement for Humanities and Sciences.
Duke Ellington once said, “the pull of jazz music in American culture is so strong that no one can resist it.” Jazz is truly an American treasure that has influenced other cultures around the globe. Yet most Americans know very little about its history. This class explores jazz from its roots to its most current forms. Hear the music, study its contributions, and explore the cultural patterns and trends that surround its development. Class sessions are a mix of lecture and discussion, with some demonstrations of performance styles.
This course uses standards for information and media literacy (from the Association of College and Research Libraries and others) to explore issues related to queer identities, representations, methodologies, theoretical applications, and interpretations. Using the framework of literacy as a benchmark, students learn how to read "for and from the queer" in a variety of media.
Race and ethnicity have played significant, complicated, and more often than not misunderstood roles in the United States’ history. This course surveys the ways race and ethnicity have been constructed and understood by Americans from the colonial era to the present, focusing on the ways that class, gender, culture, and politics, as well as biology, have defined race and the way race and ethnicity have supported ideologies that have been used to both empower and subordinate the peoples of the United States.
This course offers students a hemispheric perspective on the study of literature, focusing on a range of works from underrepresented, marginalized, and outsider authors in the Americas from the nineteenth century to the present. Students have an opportunity to challenge conventional categorizations of writers from across the Americas—not just in the United States—by fostering transnational and transhistorical perspectives while considering concepts including identity, race, citizenship, hybridity, and nationhood.
This course introduces students to global fine arts production (drawing, painting, sculpture, artists’ books, performance, public, and socially engaged) since 1945. Using a series of case studies this class examines the historical, theoretical, and aesthetic developments in and relationships between fine arts media. Students engage with a combination of primary and secondary texts, apply visual analysis skills, contextualize artworks, and investigate various political and aesthetic points of view.
This course traces the history of applied arts and designed objects through furniture, products, packaging, and multidimensional forms of graphic design. Students examine applied arts and designed objects as part of an evolving human culture of habit, convenience, and status. Various movements and styles within the histories of design genres, as well as the processes and manufacturing of consumer objects are considered.
Since the advent of print and the printing press, text, image, graphic design, comics, and advertising have played significant roles in cultural formation. This course examines the history of mass reproduction of printed matter from the advent of modernity, including books and periodical designs, to the present.
The production and reproduction of static, moving, and digital images have grown from work produced by an exotic technology used only by specialists to a socially ubiquitous representational form that generates millions of images, clips, cartoons, gifs, shorts, and films daily. This course surveys the development of (re)produced and moving images from their commercial applications, entertainments, and art to the all-pervasive media in which our popular cultures and artistic cultures exist. Individual artists and makers, as well as their works and contextualized movements within changing technological, economic, and institutional frameworks, are considered.
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