University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Foundations

The Foundations Program consists of courses designed to introduce students to the materials, techniques, language, concepts and processes of making, using and thinking about art. The courses aim to keep a healthy tension and balance between formal concepts, hands-on skills, imagination, and critical thinking. 

The sequence of drawing courses involves the basic elements, concepts, materials, and techniques of drawing. Students will be introduced to fundamental elements of visual language through a variety of exercises, discussions, and lectures about content and form of drawing. Informal critiques and group critiques of works made both in and out of class will take place on a regular basis.  

The basic premise of Foundations Studio courses is twofold: First, the courses explore art and design as an experimental practice where invention and investigation play essential roles. Instead of considering introductory level art/design merely as a discipline for producing “solutions” to problems, students will engage in a process of rich qualitative research and reflection.

Second, the principal context for the courses is current practices in contemporary art/design, which is a vast arena of diverse styles, techniques, materials, subjects, forms, purposes, and aesthetic traditions. Thus developing a “foundation” in art and design entails developing an awareness of contemporary art-making practices. Through rigorous formal experimentation and examining the terms and concepts of visual artists, students will be challenged to create imaginative and open responses to the question of how s/he connects visually to the world at large.