After taking “On Images,” an introductory 2D art class, during my first year, I've looked forward to picking my classes for my major every quarter. At UChicago, Visual Art majors don't have to choose a specialization, so I've had the opportunity to take various types of studio classes—including everything from Printmaking and 16mm Filmmaking to Metamedia Design and Data and Algorithms in Art. Here’s a list of some of my favorites and why I enjoyed them.
1. “On Images”
This class is one of the art classes that anyone can take to fill the art Core requirement (1 or 2 general education classes in music, art, art history, theater, or cinema and media studies), and it's also one of three required intro classes for the Visual Art major. The content of the class varies somewhat depending on the professor's interests, but a common thread among all sections of the class is a focus on 2D art. “On Time and Space” and “On Objects”—the other two visual art Core classes—focus on video and 3D art, respectively. One of my favorite parts of the class was learning about Kehinde Wiley, the artist behind one of The Obama Portraits, and going to the Smart Museum to see his other works. Afterwards, for our last project, my professor prompted us to make our own self-portrait inspired by Wiley and several other artists.
2. “Sound/Image Mapping”
Coming into this class, I had no idea what to expect, but I was intrigued by the course name. Throughout the quarter, my professor showed us many video art and film clips that demonstrated surprising interactions between sounds and visual images. We learned about Foley artists (people who create sound effects for films and videos during post-production) and watched VR examples. We then created our own projects using coding and digital art tools. My favorite project was the final: I paired up with a classmate who's a skilled violinist and together we developed a creepy, Tim Burton-inspired animation that interacted with the sound input from his violin.
3. "Experimental Animation: Exploring Manual Techniques"
This is my favorite art class because of how many different animation techniques I learned. Critiques were also really inspiring because of how creative everyone's projects were. We started off learning about early animation artists and made a sequence of drawings for a zoetrope. As we looked at more animation examples and learned to work with various equipment and editing softwares, we began making stop-motion videos. I made an illustration stop-motion and a claymation based off of a fairytale for my final project. It was fun to watch all the videos during critiques and to see the unique styles and stories that my classmates came up with.
4. “Junior Seminar"
This is one of the three specific required classes for Visual Art majors, which I took remotely this past Spring Quarter. Initially, I was unsure about how the class would go, but my professor made the online environment work surprisingly well. In class, we discussed many artists and the interactions between their artist statements and art pieces. We covered sculptors, painters, installation artists, and video artists, and then made our own 2D, 3D, and video pieces for critiques. It was an interesting experience to have critiques without being able to observe the art in person, especially because we had more control over how we framed our art pieces. This class focused much more on analyzing art and talking about an individual artist’s work over their lifetime than other classes I've taken, and it helped me gain a better understanding about how different social contexts and life experiences have influenced artists' development and their views about art.
Taking all of these classes has shown me how vast the possibilities for art can be and how differently artists approach their practice. I'm so glad I've been able to explore all these areas of art, especially since it's helped me figure out that I want to focus more on video and digital art in the future!