Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ART 290B
Course Title:
Sculpture; Plaster/Clay
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces intermediate sculptural form, processes, techniques, and concepts while addressing historical and contemporary issues in sculpture. Develops creative problem solving through making sculpture. Introduces some intermediate level techniques for clay and plaster (including but not limited to: mold making, casting, and direct construction over armatures). Develops critical skills necessary to evaluate sculpture through critiques, discussions, and sculpture presentations by exploring artistic intent, examining aesthetic and structural solutions, and expanding perceptual awareness of sculpture. This is the second of a three-course sequence. Prerequisites: ART 290 or ART 290A or instructor permission. Recommended: ART 117. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Students will endeavor to do the following:

  • Develop creative ways to solve problems using a variety of strategies at the intermediate beginner level for making sculpture with plaster and clay.
  • Create personal works of sculpture, which demonstrate an intermediate beginners level of understanding of sculptural ideas, and the processes, materials, and techniques associated with clay and plaster (including but not limited to: mold making, casting, and direct construction over armatures).
  • Ask meaningful questions, identify ideas and issues, to actively participate in a critical dialogue about sculpture with others using intermediate beginning level vocabulary
  • Understand, interpret, and enjoy sculpture of the past and the present from different cultures to continue developing a lifelong process of expanding knowledge on the diversity of perspectives of the human experience.
  • Develop a heightened awareness of the physical world, the nature of the relationship of human beings to it, and our impact on it via the experience of making sculpture with plaster and clay.
  • Continue developing self-critiquing skills to expand autonomous expression through sculpture in plaster and clay while recognizing the standards and definitions already established by both contemporary and historical works of art from different cultures.

Course Activities and Design

  1. Create sculptures that incorporate a variety of technical skills with an awareness of the inherent characteristics of different sculpture processes using plaster and clay.
  2. Begin to generate ideas/concepts with an awareness of the intended content of the work produced.
  3. Build upon current skill set with the intent of working towards technical proficiency with plaster and clay.
  4. Develop safe studio practices in regards to the handling of tools, chemicals and machinery within a communal studio space.
  5. Further expand and utilize the necessary vocabulary specific to sculpture when participating in class critiques and discussions.
  6. Begin to assess and self-critique personal work to strategize creative solutions using plaster and clay.
  7. Begin to develop personal work with an awareness of historical and contemporary artists working in sculpture.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Make creative, appropriately crafted, challenging sculptural solutions to given provocations using various clay and plaster working techniques
    at the intermediate beginning level
  • Comprehend and apply analysis of sculptural ideas, techniques, terminology, and issues through participation in formal critiques and
    discussions using an intermediate beginning level of vocabulary.
  • Develop conceptual ideas through the practice of creative research and preparatory studies (e.g. sketchbooks, journals, maquettes, models,
    writing assignments, presentations, technical practice tests, etc.).

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Concepts, Ideas, and Issues Pertaining to the Creative Process

  • Strategies for developing ideas (i.e. experiencing and playing with materials, imagining, dreaming, visualizing, symbolizing, writing,
    reading, researching, studying historical and cultural examples, sketching, collaborating, discussing)
  • Strategies for problem solving towards concretion of ideas in sculptural form (i.e. sketches, plans, maquettes, test pieces, models)
  • Perception and Art
  • Form and Content
  • Interpreting art

Historical and Cultural Contexts

  • Concepts, theories, and issues addressed by various cultures and historical periods
  • Concepts, theories, and issues addressed by contemporary sculptors from different cultures
  • Relationships between form and content in works of art from different cultures and historical periods
  • The roles of art and artists in different cultures
  • Intercultural and interhistorical influences (e.g. the influence of cycladic and African art on western, modern sculpture)

Sculptural Forms and Perceptual Impact

  • Visual/physical elements used to create sculptural form: point, line, plane, shape, form, marks, texture, shadow, light, value, color, space, sound,
    smell, weight, volume, mass, text, etc.
  • Relationships of characteristics of visual/ physical elements to be considered (e.g. proportion, length, thickness, position, orientation, scale, weight, interrelationship of shapes, relative value and color, movement and stillness, quality of texture etc.)
  • Strategies for manipulating visual/physical elements that is ways of thinking of composing with visual/physical elements (e.g. arrange, juxtapose, relate, contrast, group, balance, unify, repeat, edit, elaborate, classify, divide, increase, decrease, maximize, minimize, dissect, separate, align, vary, diversify, alternate, reduce, connect, etc.)
  • The relationship between materials and their visual/ physical impact(i.e. a stick or string acts as a line, an indentation in a form is simultaneously
    perceived as a mark, a material is chosen for its shape and color etc, an element is chosen for its weighty quality, an object or material is
    used for its olfactory impact, an object is chosen for its associative qualities etc.)

Materials and Techniques

  • Gravity and the basic forces of tension and compression.
  • Materials, their handling, and meaning
  • Physical activities used to alter and form clay (e.g. slice, bend, carve, compress, stretch, twist, etch, impress, etc)
  • Physical ways of forming plaster while working it in different states
    • liquid state: (e.g. pouring,painting, saturating other materials with it, etching
      into it while wet, etc.)
    • gel state: (e.g. compress, model, accumulate, mold, build up, applying templates, carve back, etc)
    • solid state: (e.g. carve, add on more liquid or gel state plaster, gluing and repairing, ways of combining solid elements:butt, prop, lean, bind, stack, wrap, peg, slot, screw, tie, pin, cantilever, balance, etc.)
  • Using plaster with armatures (e.g. wire, wood, metal armatures) and flexible covering materials (e.g. jute, fiberglass cloth, burlap, twine, wire,
    chickenwire, etc)
  • Working with clay and plaster indirectly to make basic molds and cast sculptures (e.g. waste molds, two piece molds, relief mold, basic flexible molds, etc.)
  • Safety and Environmental concerns of materials and techniques associated with clay and plaster in particular as well as other materials: proper disposal of waste, places where recycled material can be found, proper safety attire to be used when working with specific materials,
    health related concerns, sources of information on these subjects Critical Analysis
  • Purposes of criticism and analysis of artworks: deepen understanding, reflect on level of quality and possible improvements, heighten
    creative decision making by observing decisions made by others and oneself, establish and maintain high standards of achievement, ask
    questions, find new connections, create autonomy and creative confidence, create new problems to solve, discuss art with others to
    expose oneself to multiple perspectives etc.
  • Vocabulary relevant to ideas, materials, and techniques pertaining to sculpture made with clay and plaster
  • Application, interpretation, and redefinition of sculptural ideas, connection of historical and cultural contexts, personal expression and creative
  • Aspects of criticism: formal, conceptual, historical, cultural, experiential etc.