Friday, September 23, 2011


Navigating the Art World

Michael Merry

Contact Info:

Office Hours:
Tuesday & Wednesday 5:00 - 10:00 p.m.  
If my studio door is open, as it usually is, feel free to come in.

Course Description: 
This course offers an overview of issues in the development and maintenance of a professional artistic practice.  It is particularly aimed at advising students who are making the transition from BFA and MFA courses to the realities of the professional art world.  After graduating students will be confronted with with many challenges ranging from gaining the attention of art world professionals to  dealing with taxes, contracts and other legal issues.  In this course students will lay the groundwork of personal approaches to meeting these challenges.

Students will develop strategic approaches to:
- Finding useful resources.
- Funding projects.
- Targeting and approaching galleries.
- Publicity
- Looking for work / interning.

Course Objectives.  Upon completion of this course students should be able to:
1. Work with professional standards appropriate to the art world.  
2. Locate and utilize resources relevant to an artistic practice.  
3. Participate in the art world beyond a studio practice.
4. Analyze, interpret, and contextualize their own work and that of other students through the process of critique using terms and concepts appropriate to the medium.
5. Engage with the community of fellow artists and work collaboratively toward the above objectives.  

Students will practice and apply the following desired abilities:
1. Competency in the Disciplines: Knowledge of content in prerequisite or transfer courses, as well as preparation for a career.  
2. Literacy: Skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and quantification, as well as awareness and appreciation of learning styles.
3. Critical Thinking: skills in analysis, synthesis, problem solving, decision making, creative exploration and formulating 
4. Personal and Social Responsibility: awareness of and responsiveness to diversity and commonality among cultures, multiplicity of perspectives, ethical behaviors, and health and wellness issues. 
5. Using Resources: effective use of computers and information technology, accessing of information resources including campus resources, and awareness of lifelong learning options.

Developing a professional artistic practice means developing an effective studio research methodology.  As such students will:
- Keep a journal.
- Contextualize their work within the history of art.
- Contextualize their work within contemporary art dialogues.
 Contextualize their work within or across academic traditions.
- Develop a concise artist's statement based on the above three points and 
expand it a research paper.  
- Attend and exhibition and write a one page review contextualizing the artist's work on the same three points.
- Curate and organize an exhibition aimed at creating dialogue around a particular issue or related set of issues.

There will be 5 assignments, 20 points each.  This may number be expanded.   
- Artist's journal, statement and paper.  
- Develop a web presence and mailing list.   
- Give a presentation on their work.  
- Locate and apply to a professional organization: grad school, residency, job, grant, etc.  
- Organize and publicize an exhibition. 

Journals will be due at midterm and at the end of the term.
- See Artists' Journal Assignment Page for full outline before you buy.
- Your journal should be utilized as a tool of personal investigation from life and/or imagination and a tool of study.  As such, your journal is possibly the most important aspect of this class.  In your journal you are establishing the foundations of your personal artistic direction.  

There is no extra credit work or make up work available for this class.  

Mid-term evaluations are given to freshmen as a gauge for final grades and as an indicator of problems.  If you encounter problems that keep you from successfully completing the class see the instructor.  Other grading options are available.  

Incompletes are given in extreme situations and only if already passing.

Project Evaluation Criteria: 
There are 5 assignments each worth 20 points making a total of 100 for the semester. 
Each project will be scored based on the following criteria.  
1. Presentation: the work should be clean, coherent, and professional.  
2. Participation: active involvement with groups or partners, putting a sufficient amount of effort toward research, proper classroom etiquette, participation in discussions and critiques, and attendance. 

Students can loose points on individual assignments through the following:
- Messy work will cost you a letter grade.  A gallery wouldn't even look at it.  
- Failure to clearly identify your work with numbers, titles, your name, etc on your work will cost you a letter grade. 
- Assignments turned in after class begins are considered one day late.   
- Late assignments will be discounted one full letter grade for each weekday late.  Late assignments will be accepted until one week late, but not after. Be aware that no grade higher than F is possible after four weekdays have passed, or on the fifth weekday. 
You may be absent from this class three times.  Each absence over three will result in your grade for the semester dropping an additional letter grade.

Students can loose points for the semester through the following:
- 110%:  Merely completing assignments is not enough.  You are expected to proceede as if you are trying to distinguish yourself in the highly competitive world of professional art.  In the art world there is no "good enough", there are only the best.   Seek help from your classmates and instructor.  Apathy will cost you a letter grade on an assignment and possibly for the semester.  
- Not keeping an organized sketchbook containing clear notes and reflecting an interest in developing your artistic interests will cost you a letter grade for the semester.  
- You are expected to complete assigned readings, participate in discussions of readings and slide lectures, work successfully with a group or partner, and participate in critiques.  Non-participation in any of these aspects will cost you a letter grade for the semester.
- Damaging, stealing, or interfering with the work of your fellow students will result in immediate failure of the class and in punishment to the full extent of the university's rules and regulations.  

Assigned projects may require many, many out-of-class hours.

Showing up for class is not enough, students are expected to:
- Read the syllabus and know what is going on.  Come to class prepared and equipped to take notes, work, and participate.  Once you have had time to read over an assignment page and the assignment has been introduced in class, students are expected to take the initiative to begin working and motivate themselves.  The instructor should be thought of as being there to help and to trouble shoot.  
- Be aware of due dates and have work ready for them.
- Exhibit good work ethic, sound craftsmanship, and consistency of effort.
- Push skill development, show initiative and overall improvement.
- Show a willingness to explore and learn beyond known limits, i.e. take chances.

I do not excuse absences.  If you feel you have a valid reason to have an absence excused you may go though the Office of Academic Affairs.  

If you miss a demo due to absence I will be extremely reluctant to repeat it for your benefit.  If you believe you have a valid reason to miss a demo or critique, talk to me about it before you miss it.  Maybe we can work something out. 

Being physically present is not enough.  If you sleep, use the internet via computer or smartphone, talk on the phone, do coursework for other classes, listen to music on headphones, or disruptively chat with your classmates at inappropriate times; such as during lectures, demonstrations, discussions, or critiques; you will be counted absent. 

Work days are not optional attendance days.  If you believe you have completed the assignment, talk to me before you leave.  If you are ahead of the class you may find that I am willing to show you an additional technique or let you expand your project.  If you choose to slip out on work days, or any other days, I will notice, you will be counted absent, and I will be extremely reluctant to help you when you fall behind.  If you believe you have a valid reason to leave early, talk to me about it before class. 

Three tardies makes an absence.  Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class.  You will remain marked absent until you let me know you have arrived.  Make sure you see me mark you present on that date.  We are not going to speculate over or discuss tardies at a future date.   

Three absences will result in your grade for the semester dropping a full letter grade.  Each additional absence will result in your grade for the semester dropping an additional letter grade.  Also, since there will be many demos and much of the work will be done during class time you may want to consider carefully the ramifications of missing a class.  You will likely fail the course if you miss more than three classes. 

Any student, who, because of a disabling condition, may require assistance in the event of an emergency or may require some special arrangements in order to meet the course requirements, should discuss with the instructor the nature of their disability and needs so that the necessary accommodations can be made.