Friday, May 13, 2011

An Annotated Course List

Power and Representation: Where we were supposed to learn about privilege while we learned to write properly. Our theme was The Personal Is Political. I took our syllabus very seriously and when I had missed three classes, which was past the maximum for passing, I went to my professor in tears and she was like, "What?"
Intro to Linguistics: Studying X-rays of the mouth, learning a new truly phonetic alphabet- I had fun, but studying for this class had a lot of memorization.
Intro to Acting: I loved this. We would all just exercise our limbs, faces, and voices for like half an hour and then watch stuff. Our professor was too much, our TA was awesome, and my classmates were mostly theater students, too young to hide how impressed they were by themselves. And everyone was so pretty.

Space Age Solar System: My professor was an Australian man who would find a new stick every class to use as a pointer. He was beyond excited about German, Russian, and American engineering, and I got my Qualitative requirement met with this class that had one equation. Instead of a book we had online resources, which I printed out at 5x4 and made into a tiny book.
Intro to Microeconomics: Giant auditorium up a steep hill. My professor was engaging but the material wasn't. I think I didn't buy the book, or something.
Sovereignty and Intervention: My only Political Science class. Everyone in this class was super aware of, like, everything that happened internationally, and the things that led up to everything that happened internationally, and most people seemed to know who the heads of all the countries were and what kind of government they had and I could not catch up in two months.

2D Foundation: Our TA hated her job because it wasn't grad school in Pasadena, and I made pretty good works but I don't have a 2D background. Still, I was only outclassed by a few students.
The Stars: My professor was a nice British lady who would tell us neat stories about life as an astronomer. I learned kind of a lot about physics but it was so improbable that I forgot it.
Contemporary Architecture: This class taught me how to write and talk about art for the first time. My professor would never complete a sentence or a thought so there was no way to organize my notes as I went except to really listen for the terms that resonated for me and try and get them written next to the correct architect, artist, or (usually) critic.

Statistics: We ate a lot of cookies in this class. My book never arrived from Amazon so I bought one full price 2/3 of the way into the term and I got a calculator at the end of the term. Surprisingly, I did indeed learn statistics.
Intro Visual Arts: I think this was my only big lecture class in Art. It was art of the twentieth century, and just touched on the biggest names of the American movements. Still, the book from this class is one of my favorites, great photographs and blurbs that I actually know the story around.
Intro Macroeconomics: iclickers. Couldn't understand my TA. My favorite part by far was applying our simple charts to things happening in the news, a skill I have unfortunately lost.

3D Foundation: Everyone in this class was so cool. The first legit piece of art I made in school was a briefcase that imitated Duchamp's ready mades.
Economic Justice (W): I don't even know what I was supposed to do in this class. It was like upper division primary school. In retrospect, I was confused by the writing expectations. In art history you write as though your reader has heard of what you are writing about. In Economic Justice you write as though there isn't anything at all, like intro to philosophy probably is.
Art of Africa/ Oceania/Americas: This was the most satisfying incarnation of the What Is Art theme that we have to address endlessly. To us, calling a painting or a sculpture Not Art is rude, because art is elevated, but to "elevate," as art, works that people from other cultures produce for practical reasons, costuming, or worship is not polite but rather a holdover from our colonial inheritance. I really liked that. We also couldn't pass this class without getting 100% on a world map quiz of the places we were studying. I liked that too.

Intro to Drawing for the Major: I am glad I learned to draw because it is so useful in communicating ideas.
Overview of the Universe: I have taken a few Astro classes for non majors and this one was no fun. There were a few exciting days where we learned about spectra or copernicus, but in between there was notes, notes, notes. And of course, in a non major class that is difficult because the class isn't a prereq; it's not leading up to anything.
Issues and Problems in American Society: This was my one sociology class, which I completely loved and was somehow very bad at. I felt like I had to watch for sloppiness in the info and graphs we were presented with-- since I agreed with the broad points and wanted everything I learned to be usably vetted-- and of course people find what they're looking for. It was a freshman class, and I got a C.

Intro to Electronic Intermedia: This class is the only reason I learned how simple it is to do even quite impressive electronics things if you use tutorials and can spend a while learning about your components from the ground up. But, since we devoted ourselves to getting sensors and leds to work, our actual sculptures were not at all in line with our skills. Something about having to conceal wires in a way that viewers can use them without assistance and without breaking anything, and in a way that is removable when things need fixing, led us to rely heavily on cardboard and gaffer's tape.
Intro to Painting (Acrylic): I was very unambitious in this class.
Intro to Computer Science (NP): My friends in the Computer Science department assured me that this was going to be absurdly easy- it's not Computer Engineering, after all. I didn't believe them, but I was astonished at how out of my depth I was. As in, the first day of class I thought the professor was asking rhetorical questions that we would learn during the course but then people raised their hands and answered correctly. As in, in the computer lab I could not log on, even with a monitor's help, to do the assignments.

Victorian America: Pretty much every day of this class was fascinating. We learned about Victorian American society through the visual art of the period. We learned about the spread of photography and the first moving films, the architecture, politics, and galleries of the World's Columbian Exhibition, conventions of portraiture and the social constraints- racial, gender based, financial, and class based- on painters and sculptors of the time. And on the first day I thought I wouldn't like the professor because he spoke so calmly and repeated a lot of words.
Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora: I don't know how but I was totally outclassed here, which is what I call it when everyone is just producing all of this great stuff with no help. I passed this class because I admitted I needed the professor to hold my hand and I told her my huge vague topic and she teased a thesis out, or maybe she gave it to me. The critics we read were so smart and it was amazing to feel myself developing a vocabulary for understanding totally important artists I'd never heard of.
Independent Study: Sculpting with Light: I loved my professor for this, and I think he graded me a bit leniently. I had forgotten I did this class at the same time as two difficult art history classes, which explains why I didn't produce as much as I would expect in a self directed course. Still, my midterm and final pieces were really solid.

Special Topics- Anything Goes: This is one of the two best classes I ever took. My professor expected so much of us, and yet when we were like, "No. That hurts our feelings." she dialed it back. But, she had revealed what she actually expected which I try to use as a benchmark even now. Basically, working as though each piece has to be gallery ready the day before it is due, and then spending that day making it perfect. I know this was an incredible class because seriously every person produced awesome and interesting work.
Public Art II: I don't know what it was about this class but I had a terrible time with deadlines, cooperating, getting the reading done on time. Partly I was taken aback at the scope and daring of he projects we read about and the works the 2D artists produced, while also feeling let down at the things people produced that my professor loved.
Imagining Utopia: This 3 unit writing class was lovely. It was like I imagine small college to be. We sat outside on the hottest days, we read loads of fiction books, and our professor said we could all have As because he knew we would produce great things in collaboration, and we did. Our final papers were so nakedly true and optimistic. And, this class was like a no minute walk from my apartment.

Digital Video: I worked so hard in this class, and the things I produced were so poor, but now I have a passing familiarity with the techniques, rules, and resources of video work. My stuff was as boring as the early film stuff, where the camera is set up and runs on and on in a single shot, without taking advantage of the medium. But now I can organize and put together a simple video to document my sculptures and performance pieces. I love this because it's
Metal Sculpture: I made good art and I found out metal is wonderfully intuitive but physically unpleasant- the smells, sounds, and temperature of the metal shop take a lot out of me.
History of Clothing and Costuming: This class was pretty fun and easy.
Intermediate Oil Painting (NP): I got better at painting, and learned to paint in oils.
Special Topics- Intimate Body/Public Body: I loved my classmates and prof. Usually I do fiber art and textile work at home because I don't need studio space for it, but it was great to bring that part of my work to class because it meant I got feedback and had to push pieces to the point that they were ready for critique and showing.
Art and Power in Participatory Culture: My teacher for this was a genius, and very engaged in the subject. By the end of the term I could sit down and turn out a good essay in a few hours since I had the hang of it. However, there was no chance I was going to finish all the reading- I am a good reader but this was the kind of thing I had to read with a dictionary at hand, and there was so much of it. I figured that it would be as cheap to buy a kindle for the pdfs as it would be to print them, but instead I just printed the ones we talked about a lot in class.

Metal Fabrication: I've made my first ambitious metal piece, with everything measured and jigged and clamped- my brick barbell. I've also made two pieces that just came together for me with hammering and welding- the chastity belt and necklace.
Senior Studio- Intermedia: Intermedia is the best discipline. Everyone has different backgrounds (printmaking, metal, community studies, woodworking, design, painting) and we are all making whatever we want. And we're seniors and it shows. It is awesome to have a class where the assignments are to make progress on your project and write about it.

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