Sculpture | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Sculpture: Degree Information

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 Sculpture student takes.

Foundation Studies - These classes help you become a well-rounded student; they build a solid art background.

Studio Electives - Throughout your studies you can choose from several studio electives that give you hands-on creative time.

Humanities and Sciences Electives - These classes round out your experience at MCAD, deepen your creative practice, and fulfill non-studio requirements for a degree.  

Learning Outcomes

  • Reference the conceptual and technical foundations of sculpture while engaging forward-looking options in terms of aesthetics, media, and process.
  • Establish an awareness of contemporary and traditional art practices, theories, and artists.
  • Define individual studio practice within a contemporary context based in research.
  • Demonstrate broad “sculptural” understanding through experience from object to installation; temporal to permanence; private to public.
  • Exhibit application of sculptural processes from traditional to expanded media including fabrication, casting, space, time, and digital processes.
  • Engage in the intellectual dialectic; critique and engage peers in expanded dialogue.
  • Participate in professional experiences through exhibitions, competitions, and internships.

Core Required Courses

36 credits

SC 3015 Fabricated Sculpture
3 credits

This class focuses on the concepts, materials, and techniques of the constructed object. Emphasis is placed on fabrication and finishing in metal, wood, and plastics. Metal techniques include advanced skills in cutting, forming, and welding, working with nonferrous metals, and machining on the lathe and mill. Wood techniques include joinery, forming, and turning. Plastics techniques include cold and hot fabrication and vacuum forming. Related topics include shop drawings, fabrication hardware, the appropriate combination of materials, and direct connection to the aesthetic of the object.

Prerequisites: Foundation: 3D

Sculpture Studio Requirements (select five)

SC 3010 Casting and Mixed Media
3 credits

This class focuses on the concepts, materials, and techniques of the cast and mixed-media object. Processes include various mold-making and casting techniques that lead to created objects and the incorporation of found forms. Bronze and aluminum foundry casting from wax and traditional patterns as well as cast plastics and flexible molds are covered. Overviews of assembling dissimilar materials, patinas, and additional finishing techniques help students refine their projects. New processes and materials are introduced on a regular basis through class demonstrations and workshops. Although this course emphasizes technique, it is also concerned with aesthetics.

Prerequisites: Foundation: 3D

FAS 3020 Installation
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Foundation: 3D

SC 3040 Sculpture Studio: Form and Content
3 credits

This course is an examination of current practices in sculpture and their historic connections. Students investigate contemporary concepts and advanced processes through individual research and production in response to peer group reviews and tutorials. The major objective is to develop an understanding of the core concerns of sculpture while producing a body of related work from concept to final presentation. Extended discussions of work encourage critical and analytical thinking. Demonstrations of materials, tools, and technologies are given as needed. Current periodicals, lectures, and field trips support course information.

Prerequisites: Fabricated Sculpture, Casting and Mixed Media, Installation, or Furniture Design: Materials and Techniques

SC 3050 Sculpture Studio: Site and Non-Site
3 credits

In this course, students investigate both site-specific and more ephemeral non-sited works through collaborative and individually proposed projects. Experimental objects, spaces, and processes may include assemblage, documentation, public actions, guerrilla works, or performance. Topics such as the discrete object, situational context, place, community, and personal/public history are discussed in response to peer group review and faculty tutorial engagement. Students examine and challenge ideas of the natural, urban, and technological.

Prerequisites: One sculpture (SC) or fine arts studio (FAS) course

FAS/SC 30 Public Art/Art in Public Places
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: One 3000-level course in sculpture, furniture, fine arts studio, or another major as deemed appropriate by faculty

SC 3065 Kinetics: Time and Motion
3 credits

This class focuses on time-based objects and spaces. Techniques include organic and mechanized motion systems, electric art, simple control systems, and introductory electronics. Students may engage with time via the object, interactive performance, or reactive environmental work. Works are created both collaboratively and individually while participating in a Theatre of Time exhibition. Presentations cover the history and design of the mechanical device and the automata as well as historic and contemporary kinetic artists.

Prerequisites: Any 3000-level sculpture or furniture course or faculty permission

FURN 3090 Digital Fabrication
3 credits

This course explores the expanding creative possibilities of digital fabrication with computer-generated, found (appropriated), and scanned digital objects. Students learn advanced three-dimensional modeling techniques in formZ Pro to create ideation, form development, presentation, and fabrication models in addition to techniques for capturing existing objects with MCAD’s 3D Laser Scanners. Objects are digitally fabricated from various materials and incorporated into finished works using MCAD’s 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC router systems while outsourcing is explored as an effective practice in digital making. Instruction includes post-digital techniques in fabrication along with modeling-based presentation techniques and the review of other professional level software packages.

Prerequisites: Foundation: 3D and Foundation: Media 1, or faculty permission

FURN 2000 Exploring 3D: Furniture and Sculpture
3 credits

This course explores the shared concerns of furniture and sculpture; their similarities in making and their contrasts in concept, enabling students to individually pursue ideas within both disciplines. This hands-on studio course focuses on learning and applying techniques in making contemporary furniture and sculpture beyond the 3D Foundation experience. Students create objects that lead to a new aesthetic and creative possibilities through expanded processes and new material options.

FAS 3090 Critical Studies
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Completion of 45 credits

FA 4000 Professional Practice: Fine Arts
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Prerequisite: Junior standing

varying Internship or Studio Elective
3 credits

Choose to pursue an internship or an additional studio elective

SC 5010 Advanced Sculpture Seminar
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Four 3000-level furniture courses, successful Junior Review

SC 5100 Senior Project: Sculpture
6 credits

During their senior year, every sculpture 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.

Prerequisites: Successful Junior Review, senior standing

Foundation Studies

19 credits

FDN 1111 Foundation: 2D
3 credits

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.

FDN 1112 Foundation: 3D
3 credits

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.

FDN 1211 Foundation: Drawing 1
3 credits

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.

FDN 1212 Foundation: Drawing 2
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Foundation: Drawing 1

FDN 1311 Foundation: Media 1
3 credits

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.

FDN 1411 Ideation and Process
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

FDN 1412 Sophomore Seminar: Contemporary Practice
1 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

Studio Electives

26 credits

varying BFA Studio Electives

Choose BFA studio courses to take as electives; amount determined by your major.

Humanities and Sciences

39 credits

AH 1701 Introduction to Art and Design History 1
3 credits

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.

AH 1702 Introduction to Art and Design History 2
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design History 1 or faculty permission

EN 1500 Writing and Inquiry
3 credits

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.

varying Creative or Professional Writing
3 credits

Creative or professional writing elective

varying Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning
3 credits

Scientific and Quantitative Reasoning classes increase students’ appreciation for the power of scientific and quantitative approaches to knowing the world.

varying Histories, Places, Philosophies
6 credits

6 credits of histories, places, philosophies electives

HS 5010 Liberal Arts Advanced Seminar
3 credits

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

Prerequisites: Completion of Cultural Awareness Requirement (4000-level course), Junior standing

Cultural Awareness Requirement (select one)

AH 4731 Art in the Age of Empire (1789-1949)
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 and a 3000-level AH or HU course, or faculty permission.

AH/HU 4325 Native American Art
3 credits

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. 

Prerequisites: Prerequisite: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 and any 3000-level AH or HU course or its transferred equivalent, or faculty permission.

AH/HU 4722 Asian Art History
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 and any 3000-level AH or HU course or its transferred equivalent, or faculty permission.

AH/HU 4725 Islamic Art
3 credits

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

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 and any 3000-level AH or HU course or its transferred equivalent, or faculty permission.

AH/HU 4728 African American Art
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 and any 3000-level AH or HU course or its transferred equivalent, or faculty permission.

AH/HS 4729 Art and Globalization in the Atlantic World
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 (may be taken concurrently), a 3000-level AH or HS course, or faculty permission

HU 4511 History of Jazz
3 credits

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. 

Prerequisites: Any 3000-level AH or HU course or its transferred equivalent, or faculty permission.

HU 3627 Queer Media
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Any 3000-level AH or HU course or its transferred equivalent, or faculty permission.

HU 4630 Race and Ethnicity in the United States: A History
3 credits

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. 

Prerequisites: Any 3000-level AH or HU course or its transferred equivalent, or faculty permission.

HS 4916 Literature of the Americas
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Any 3000-level AH or HU course or its transferred equivalent, or faculty permission.

Art Historical Contexts Courses (select one)

AH 2101 Interrogating Post Modernity: The Fine Arts Since 1945
3 credits

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. 

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 (may be taken concurrently) or faculty permission

AH 2103 Applied Arts and Designed Objects
3 credits

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.

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 (may be taken concurrently) or faculty permission

AH 2105 Print Culture, Art, and Communication in the Age of Mass Reproduction
3 credits

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. 

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 (may be taken concurrently) or faculty permission

AH 2107 Photography, the Moving Image, and Digital Culture
3 credits

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. 

Prerequisites: Introduction to Art and Design: History 2 (may be taken concurrently) or faculty permission
Total Credit Hours
120