Carnegie Mellon University

School of Art

Launches New Foundations Curriculum this Fall

written by
Andy Ptaschinski

A new Foundations curriculum launching this fall in the School of Art aims to give first-year students a stronger basis in technical skills, more opportunities to take advantage of CMU resources and a more tightly knit community of artist-peers. The new curriculum is thanks to the work of Associate Professor Imin Yeh, who was named the inaugural director of Foundational Studies last fall.

The new First-Year Seminar, which brings together all 60 BFA and BXA-Art students into one classroom for the first time, will grant students a more structured approach to acclimating to art school and building relationships with peers. This course will be held in the new 2,800-square-foot Foundations classroom, which will serve as a studio space, instructional facility and informal community gathering point.

During the first semester, students will also take three classes based on medium: Drawing, Sculpture and Time-Based Media. In the second semester, students will continue developing their skills by choosing two medium-specific classes: Paint/Print, Expanded Media Sculpture or Digital Media. While teaching the basics of working across a wide variety of media, these courses simultaneously emphasize how each art form challenges artists to think and communicate in different ways.

In the second semester, students will also take their first Critical Studies course, which will introduce them to key ideas in contemporary art through a wide range of texts including essays, artist interviews, short stories, scholarly theory, poetry and more. In addition, students will take an interdisciplinary research studio, titled “Risk, Agency, Failure,” which will challenge them to experiment broadly and expand their conceptual notions of artmaking. This class will help prepare students for advanced courses, which place greater emphasis on expanding critical thought through artmaking than on technical instruction.

The new Foundations curriculum, while providing a stronger basis for advanced artmaking, also gives students the opportunity to choose their own classes sooner than the previous curriculum allowed. Beginning their sophomore year, students will choose their own intermediate studios, along with special topic critical studies courses. Students will then choose from a wide variety of advanced studio courses, in addition to professional development classes, during their junior and senior years.