Syllabus for Fall 2011

Intermedia Workshop

Associate Professor, Dr. Rachel Marie-Crane Williams

Office: 407 Jefferson Building

Office Hours: Tues 9:30-11:30

Wed. 3-5pm

Phone:(319) 335-3012


Course Description

Expectations: In this course students will be required to read and write a great deal about their work and the work of others.  Students will also create a body of work, which clearly shows a progression throughout the semester. This body may be based on a series, a singular complicated or large scale work, or composed of a number of pieces which may or may not be connected through media and that explore a multitude of ideas. During the course of the semester students will create and expand a document about their history of curiosity with art, non-art related ideas, and studio practice. They will also create and maintain a blog, wiki, YouTube channel, or website related to their work, participate fully in all classes through discussion, sharing, and input and come prepared.

Necessary Academic Etiquette


1)   Do not be late, if you ride the bus plan ahead. If you are going to be late regularly please let me know ahead of time.

2)   If you miss more than two classes your grade will suffer. You have two absences period.

3)   Turn off your cell phone. If you have children or a sick family member or pet adjust the setting so it is not disruptive. Ask to be excused if you need to answer your cell phone or quietly—without drama– slip out of class.

4)   Do not surf, text, twitter, or Facebook during class.

5)   Prepare your body to sit still for one-hour increments by properly hydrating yourself, eating, stretching, attending to any addictions, and voiding, etc. before you come to class. You are always welcome to eat or drink during class.

6)   Bring a pen and a sheet of paper to take notes

7)   Always bring your sketchbook

8)    If someone else is talking, be respectful and listen intently. If you disagree do so in a manner that demonstrates respect and kindness. Construct your disagreement with logical non-offensive statements that are empirical and rational. While your gut feeling may be difficult to describe, work at it so that others can fully understand your reaction. Empathize; this requires an act of great imagination.

9)    Think before you speak—make sure that what you have to say contributes to the discussion or conversation at hand. If you must interrupt, or tell a fact or story that is not related to our class topic, then make it entertaining and interesting. Try to be present and listen to others.

10)                   Feel free to bring cookies anytime. They are always appropriate.

Reading and Responding (All texts will be scanned and posted on this blog)

Every other class meeting we will spend time discussing a reading assignment. For every reading I will choose two discussion leaders. These leaders will ask provocative and though provoking questions (related to the text), and help us better understand the text in the context of our class, our work and the work of other artists, scholars, critics, and intellectuals.

In order to participate in these discussions it is important to read the text, digest it and respond to it.  These responses will be posted on your blog/ website/YouTube channel/ or wiki 72 hours before our class meets. They must be at least 500 words. Within your response you will do the following things: a) Summarize the big ideas within the reading. B) Relay your emotional response to the reading and examine that response critically. C) Critique the reading by explaining why it was or was not well written or relevant. D) Then pose one or two thoughtful questions. *Because discussion leaders will demonstrate their understanding of the text in class through the discussion they generate they will not be asked to post a response to the reading.

These posts, readings, and discussions are an important part of your grade. If they are posted later than 72 hours before class I will subtract a letter grade. If they are not posted prior to our discussion the highest grade you can receive is a C- (70).  If they are not posted within a week of our discussion they will not count at all and you will receive an F for that particular reading.  There are no exceptions to this rule because you have eleven days to complete the reading and respond.

Discussion Leaders:


  • • Read the material thoroughly and thoughtfully –make notes
    • Discussing the readings in advance of class with your partner(s) to formulate key questions or topics to get the class going
    This should be done face-to-face, and done no later than Monday evening so you have time for additional preparation if necessary.

Create a handout that has the main points of the discussion that you wish to cover (almost like an agenda).

You might also want to create an activity that helps to frame the discussion.


Keep the discussion focused on the specific topic being discussed.

Keep everyone focused on the group’s discussion. (No side-conversations).
Use good judgment as to how long to remain on one point of discussion and when to move to another point. Make sure the discussion neither becomes redundant nor moves too quickly and thus remains superficial.

Ask questions that most or all of the students can understand. Be sure questions are neither too general/abstract nor too specific/detailed.

Lead the discussion smoothly from one topic to another by making a statement or asking a question that though connected with the previous point changes the course of the discussion. Do not jump from one area to another. Avoid confusing group members.

Give students time to respond to comments or questions. (E.g. Discussion leader: “I think a just made an interesting point. B what do you think about A’s comment”?)

Not allow any one person to take over and dominate the discussion, (know when to politely interrupt and hand the discussion over to another student or change the course of discussion). Also be sure not to dominate the discussion yourself or allow anyone to remain silent and uninvolved.

Keep this as a discussion and NOT a debate or argument, making sure that individual’ opinions are respected; even if they are not agreed with by some group member(s).


For more information about being a good discussion leader


We will have four critiques during the semester. You must have work to present at three of these critiques. If you are not going to have work to critique please let me know ahead of time. Critiques are useless in the context of art school if you are truly finished with a piece and are unwilling to re-work or re-consider your approach. They are meant to be constructive and by no means should you leave a critique feeling abused or distraught. This is unnecessary unkindness in action. We are all working artists and as such we need to form a strong and supportive community.  The artist whose work is subjected to our critique may pose a series of questions about the work that they wish to have answered. We will first focus our attention on these questions. Do not feel the need to start our discussion with qualifiers if you are the person on whose work we are focusing.

Critique Ground Rules:

1)   The purpose of our critiques is to gain insight and foster motivation and enthusiasm for your work and the work of others—thus we will try to avoid negative attacks and humiliating experiences.

2)   All statements must be qualified. For example-“I like this work because it makes me feel__________ because…or think about ______________ because__________.

3)   We will try to generate multiple interpretations about the work based on cultural and personal connections.

4)   We will describe what we see in front of us in terms of form and content.

5)   Good art should be provocative. We may encounter art that we do not like or that is offensive. Try to “nail down” exactly what in a work may trigger those feelings. Realize that the artist may have been striving to elicit those responses therefore the work is ultimately successful. Your valid reaction might also cause the artist to see their work in a new light.

6)   Try to determine what lens you might be using to examine a work of art. Is it political, formal, personal, academic, and or historical, etc.? Make that clear to others so that they can understand your point of view.

7)   If you compare or contrast the work in question to the works of other artists make a point of writing down the names of those artists and giving them to the person whose work is the subject of our critique.

8)   Remember we are critiquing the work, not the person. In most instances when you view a work of art the artists is not present or personally known to us.  It is a privilege to have the artist available to interpret their work for us.

9)   The meaning of a work changes each time it is viewed by a different person or group or in a different context. This process is what gives art a life beyond the artist. The work may also change in meaning for the artist as their life moves forward.

10)          Think carefully about what you say to another person and how you respond. What is your purpose? Is it to gain something for yourself or to contribute to the conversation and the dialog we are having.

11)         I hope we can think of critiques like a potluck dinner party. The artist is responsible for the entrée, but we are to bring food, which compliments and adds to the meal as a whole. We should leave with a sense of satisfaction, enthusiasm, and pleasure or at least a set of good questions to ponder.

Collaborative Cells

In this course I will ask you to create one collaborative project with at least one other person in the workshop (October 18-Nov.29). I will also ask you to form collaborative/collective art cells. These are to function as a means of support and conceptual production. We can determine the number and type of these cells after a few weeks of class based on desire and interests. We will devote two class periods to sharing and discussing our collaborative works.


A=All of the assignments (digital reservoir, discussion leadership, critique participation, generosity project, collaborative project) were handed in on time, and clearly demonstrate critical reflection, thought, thoroughness, research above and beyond the assignment, and personal investment. This also means you participated in class discussions in a thoughtful and meaningful way. An A also means that your studio work progressed throughout the semester and that you were able to complete a small body of work or a significant piece that adds to your portfolio. This grade also means that you have created a series of questions that can continue to guide your artistic practice and that you have missed less than 2 classes and have been mindful about punctuality.

B= You completed most of the assignments, you participated in class, your work has shown progress with some inconsistencies, you may have missed more than 2 classes and you were late at various points without notifying the instructor. You may have completed the collaborative project but did not contribute as fully as your group would have liked and your work as a discussion leader was mediocre or slightly above average.

C= You missed a few assignments, your work overall showed a lack of effort and thought as well as thoroughness. Your digital reservoir was often not up to date and you missed a number of classes. Your work as an artist lacked progress and you seemed to stagnate without an obvious or productive path forward.  You did not seem to be engaged with your collaborative group and your input into class discussions was sometimes inappropriate, unproductive, or thoughtless. You did not participate fully in critiques and you may have been late over and over again with no forgivable reason. You did not prepare adequately to be a discussion leader.

D= You missed many assignments, you missed many classes, you may have been late on multiple occasions, you were disrespectful to your peers and lacked the ability to fully collaborate and engage in our class projects and discussions. Your assignments were lacking in critical reflection, may have been poorly executed, and at times were well past the deadline. Overall you added little to the class.

F=You missed over 4 classes, you did not turn in assignments in a timely or consistent manner. Your assignments lacked depth and you were often unprepared. You added little to the class.


August 23– Meet and Greet and go over syllabus-introductions

Homework: Reading for Aug. 30, set up your digital reservoir  (blog, YouTube channel, etc.) and send me the address so I can create a link on our class blog.

We will do a mapping project:

For your first blog post write a brief introduction-who are you, where are you from, what do you do then create a list of ponderables to keep you focused during the semester. What are your big burning questions as an artist? Where are you now where do you want to go? How many projects or pieces will you create this semester? What is your timeline?

August 30-Reading for discussion:

Miwon Kwon, From Site to Community in New Genre Public art: The Case of “Culture in Action”  (100-137) from: One Place After Another: Site Specific Art and Locational Identity. (2004/ MIT Press)

CRITIQUE (4 people)

September 6

Critique (6 people).

HOMEWORK For September 13 read Trite Tropes in MIra Schor’s book,

A Decade of Negative Thinking: Essays on Art, Politics, and Daily Life

Duke University Press
December 2009


September 13-Discussion and CRITIQUE (5 people)

September 20– Discuss Critique look at the works of Jeffery Byrd

CRITIQUE-5 people

September 27-Jeff Byrd Guest speaker

October 4-No class attend at least 3 events related to the Comics Symposium October 5-8 (If you want to do a workshop for kids related to comics on October 5 let me know a.s.a.p.)

See Blog for Details:

October 11-Critique 6 people

Reading for October 18th: Jeanne van Heeswijk, A Call for Sociality (85-98) from What We Want is Free,  edited by Ted Purves (2005, SUNY).

October 18– Discuss Reading and Critique (four people)

October 25– No class go to Buzz Alexander’s Lecture and workshop

Read: Grant Kester, A Critical Framework for Dialogical Practice,(124-151)   From Conversation Pieces (2004).

November 1- discuss Reading  and Critique (4 people)

November 8-Critique ( 6 people)

November 22-Thanksgiving Break

November  29-Critique (6 people)

December 6-Critique (6 people)

December 13-finals week


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