Visual Art

Course Descriptions

The Department of Visual Art offers foundations-level and upper-level courses in book arts, digital media, painting, photography, printmaking, and sculpture.

VISA0100 Studio Foundation Required for all VA and RISD courses (with the exception of VISA0120, VISA0130, VISA0140, VISA0150, and VISA0160). Covers the basics of drawing, 2D and 3D design while cultivating the capacity for visual thinking. The VA Department manages an online lottery for registration for this popular course.
VISA0120 Foundation Media: Sound and Image Foundation media focuses on the production and theory of screen-based digital media and introduces the computer as a medium and a tool for art.
VISA0130 3D Foundation This foundation studio course is an introduction to 3D form and structure, and aims to develop spatial literacy and various 3D design and construction techniques. Students explore the structural, compositional and conceptual implications of commonly used materials, such as cardboard, wood, metal, plaster and found objects, and are instructed on the safe use of select hand and power tools.
VISA0140 Photography Foundation This class is a wide ranging technical and conceptual introduction to photography. Through weekly projects, students will be exposed to 19th-21st century photo processes. Topics covered include cameras, lenses, software, darkroom overview, scanning, natural and artificial lighting, alternative processes as well as concepts such as selective focus, color temperature, and composition.
VISA0150 2D Digital Foundation This foundation studio course introduces the basic practices and concepts of two-dimensional digital media production including image acquisition, editing and manipulation, vector illustration, and preparation for online and offline viewing.
VISA0160 Painting Foundation Painting in acrylics for a variety of interests and aptitudes - basic instruction in media and painting procedure, emphasis on development of the image as a visual statement. Class will cover basic color principals, painting techniques, and concepts. Assignments cover a wide range of approaches including painting from observation, the model, individual research, and imagination.
VISA1110 Drawing I This course focuses on drawing from models, observation, and imagination in a variety of media with an emphasis on creative work and classroom participation.
VISA1120 Drawing II A continuation of Drawing I, this studio focuses on drawing from models, observation, and imagination in a variety of media with an emphasis on creative work and classroom participation.
VISA1160 Drawing with Watercolor This course will be a rigorous examination of the possibilities of drawing with watercolor, with an emphasis on unorthodox use of the watercolor medium. Because the basis of watercolor is sound drawing, there will be considerable instruction and practice in drawing fundamentals such as perspective, value, composition, scale, rendering, etc. Required prerequisite: VISA 0100 or by permission.
VISA1210A Big Woodcut In Big Woodcut the emphasis will be on printing on a large scale, and the use of various types of paper.  A community print using a steamroller as a printing press is the culminating event of this course.
VISA1210G Silkscreen This course will provide students with a thorough knowledge of both water-based screen printing techniques and digital imaging. The intersection of digital printing processes and screen printing within the context of contemporary works on paper will be explored through a series of experimental mixed-media projects. Work will be in both black and white and color. Silkscreen techniques are also covered in a topics based printmaking course titled Political Constructions VISA120L.
VISA1210J Making Monotypes The aim of the course is to understand the variability, sequencing potential and the inherent luminosity of the monotype medium and to use these attributes to discover and advance one's own visual ideas. Monotype refers to the making of a single unique print through press and non-press means. Several rapid projects with themes will precede a longer series culminating in a final epic portfolio of independent content. Individual, peer, and small and large group critiques will occur weekly for feedback. Students who are not admitted during pre-registration or were unable to pre-register should attend the first meeting.
VISA1210K Digital Printmaking: Pixel, Paint, Print This studio art course investigates possibilities for using the computer along with traditional painting and printmaking processes to produce image-based work. Students will explore how computers and computer networks have changed the creation, content, form, distribution, and exhibition of artwork through a series of assignments, readings, discussions, and slide lectures, and how computers and digital media can intersect with a traditional studio practice. Students will produce a portfolio of mixed-media work. Photoshop, Illustrator, the Internet and digital printers, along with traditional painting, drawing, and printing mediums will be used as tools for art-making.
VISA1210L Lithography Lithography is the most versatile printmaking process. Working on limestone and aluminum plates, students will learn to produce, process and print their work in black and white. Class participation is vital, as students will be aiding each other in this complicated process. This course requires considerable time outside of class.
VISA1210M Collaboration & Community in Print Students will be introduced to printmaking through four main techniques: relief, drypoint, collograph, and paper stencils. Just as each collaborator brings a new voice to a project, each medium affords a different mark-making style to a print. Working within these mediums, students will explore the potential for rich layered imagery, and robust variable editions.
VISA1240 & VISA1250 Art of the Book This course examines the book, structurally and conceptually, as artist’s medium. Students will learn the materials, tools and techniques of making books, as they explore the expressive and narrative possibilities of the book form. Topics and projects may include digital imaging, combining text and image, traditional binding or digital publishing.
VISA1310 Painting I Explores painting principles related to both traditional and contemporary issues.
VISA1320 Painting II A second semester of painting affords in-depth investigations of painting techniques and ideas with a strong emphasis on individual critiques.
VISA1340 Accessorizing Painting This studio course will examine the crossover between decorative arts and painting. Drawing upon sources such as fashion, textiles, adornments, jewelry, furniture, hair and architecture we will study how design aesthetics demonstrate class, position, lineage or a particular period in the history of painting and embellishment. Students will be encouraged to experiment with a wide variety of media and work on projects based on their selected researched subject areas.
VISA1150 Illuminated Sculpture This immersive winter session studio course explores the material of light in the context of contemporary sculptural practice. Students develop sculptural solutions to a given set of problems. Contemporary art issues raised in presentations and discussions.
VISA1410 Sculpture I: Material Investigations This intensive studio course consists of basic instruction and exploration of diverse sculptural concepts and materials. Students investigate the properties of material and processes and develop sculptural solutions to a given set of problems. Contemporary issues are raised in critiques and presentations.
VISA1420 Sculpture II: Conceptual Propositions By covering a number of contemporary sculptural theories and practices and emphasizing critiques and readings, students develop sculptural solutions to a given set of problems using materials of their own choosing.
VISA1510 Black & White Photography Introduction to black and white photographic production and theory. Student will learn how to use a 35mm camera, process their negatives and make silver-gelatin prints in the darkroom.
VISA1520 Digital Photography Students in this studio course emphasizing the history of photography and critical theory are introduced to digital photography and printing on large-format inkjet printers.
VISA1530 Digital Bookbinding Digital Photo bookbinding is an advanced photography class for students with experience with digital or black and white photography. The class will focus on building on editing and sequencing a body of work as well layout, formatting and considerations of text and captioning.
VISA1540 Medium & Large Format Photography This class will be an advanced darkroom photography course using medium and large format cameras. Class time will be divided into lab days in which students we are processing and printing, field days where we are out shooting and getting to know the cameras better and classroom days that will consist of critique, slide presentations and reading discussions.


New Genre: Site and Sound This studio course provides a broad overview of contemporary sonic art practice, facilitates the development of site-based sonic artwork, and encourages a critical approach to sound and audio practice.
VISA1720 Physical Computing This is an intensive introduction to electronic devices for use in art making and includes hands-on experience working with sensors, motors, switches, gears, lights, simple circuits, microprocessors and hardware-store devices to create kinetic and interactive works of art.
VISA1730 Exploration in Video Art This studio course provides an overview of contemporary video art and video installation practices, facilitates the development of video work in expanded space, and encourages a critical approach to interactive moving image practice. Students will develop a set of video installation pieces for particular spaces and situations beyond the standard single-screen video format. Basic video production and post-production techniques will be covered and complimented by readings and screenings.
VISA1740 Time Deformations This studio course explores modes of electronic media by focusing on time as a primary material. Students will develop projects for specific sites and situations in response to assigned topics. Selected works in video, sound, performance, and online media that make innovative use of temporal strategies will be examined. Production work will be complimented by technical lectures, readings, discussions, and screenings.
VISA1400 The Artist's Body: Performance Art as Acts of Activism, Communion, Rebellion, Humor and Meditation In this course, we will divide our time equally between studying the works/styles of contemporary performance artists and practicing performance art techniques and various modes of physically engaging in this art form.
VISA1600 Social Practice: Art in Everyday Life This interdisciplinary course explores theoretical and practical ways that art can engage community. We will explore methods for social interventions, collaboration, and the notion of art as activism. Part studio and part seminar, this course examines our role in society as cultural producers.
VISA1800P Artwork/ Professional Practices of Studio Artists Unlike other creative professionals, visual artists don't have agents or managers—you handle the business yourself, with the support of your community. This class covers business basics including tracking inventory and preparing invoices; taking legal precautions such as registering a copyright and drafting consignment forms; using promotional tools; diversifying income; and making career decisions such as choosing the right venues to show your work. We will discuss grants, residencies, budgets, do-it-yourself strategies, financial health, and professional relationships. Discussion and assignments will emphasize community, the sharing of resources, and the practical, hands-on skills necessary to thrive as a visual artist.
VISA1900 Other Lives of Time This course takes a decidedly poetic approach to moving image and cinema. Part studio, screening, discussion and critique, students will watch, discuss and dissect works by artists and filmmakers from across the globe that use personal form and distinct techniques to communicate idiosyncratically.
VISA1910 Independent Study, Semester I Students design their own course, and work independently with professor oversight.
VISA1920 Independent Study, Semester II Students design their own course, and work independently with professor oversight.
VISA1930 Study at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Students may obtain cross registration forms at the Brown Registrar’s Office. (In person or on-line). Permission of the RISD instructor and VISA0100 is required for cross-registration. Students must file a petition with the Dean of Students to take more than four courses at RISD.

Honors in Visual Art

Seniors only. Juniors in good standing must submit an application in the Spring of their junior year to be considered. A yearlong course that focuses on art making. Semester one is a seminar with readings and discussions and is followed by a second semester of intensive studio work, individual and group critiques. Visiting artists are often invited for critiques. A week-long exhibit and final presentation are required.