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Information and Syllabus

M.F.A. Studio Arts Practice & Critique - Fall '18

Location: Communications 2216
Time: M  6:00pm-9:00pm

Professor: Robert Spahr
Contact: rspahr@siu.edu
Office: Northwest Annex, B213

Office Hours:
T  12:00pm - 04:00pm
R  02:00pm - 04:00pm
and by appointment

Course Syllabus Location: http://www.robertspahr.com/sapc/

Course Listing: MFA Studio Arts Practice - 62476 - MCMA 557 001
Course Listing: MFA Studio Arts Critique - 62477 - MCMA 558 001

Required Text:

Rainer Maria Rilke (Author), M.D. Herter Norton (Translator): "Letters to a Young Poet"
ISBN-13: 978-0393310399


This interdisciplinary production course is focused on the development of each student's personal artistic voice. The goal is to strengthen student's understanding of their own work and how it relates to the broad range of techniques, forms and ideas that comprise contemporary arts practice and critique. Students are expected to be self motivated and encouraged to investigate different forms and modes of working, including the still image, time based media, installation, interactivity, and live art performance in an interdisciplinary environment. In this course, students together with their faculty and peers discuss and critique completed works and works in progress. The goal of these in-depth critiques is to have students understand and reflect upon each other’s artistic approach, the ideas, materials and strategies being used, as well the material realization and contemporary cultural context.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have developed hands-on technical experience in working with a variety of contemporary media based upon their interests. Guided by relevant critical and theoretical research, students will have begun developing and defining a series of philosophical positions as they reflect upon their own work and that of their peers. Students will have had the opportunity to work together collaboratively with their peers to curate a public exhibition of their recent work.


* Be sure to check back often for any updated information. *

Aug 20
Introductions, Thoughts on Tools and Art
To view/listen in Class:
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Rainer Maria Rilke - Letters To A Young Poet (Poem One read by Dennis Hopper), 09:47
Everyday Carry (EDC) What are your EDC essentials?
Adam Savage's Everyday Carry (EDC), 08:04

Exercise One: Everyday Carry, Tools & Art

Aug 27
Student Presentations of Past Work.
(20 min. presentation / 10 min. Q&A)

Sep 03
Labor Day - Class is canceled.

Sep 10
Student Presentations of Past Work.
(20 min. presentation / 10 min. Q&A)

Sep 17
Exercise One: Everyday Carry, Tools & Art is due.
Critique Exercise One.
Video: Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse - Read by Benedict Cumberbatch
Reading Discussion: Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters to a Young Poet

Sep 24
Group Critique

Oct 01
Group Critique continued

Oct 08
Group Critique

Oct 15
Group Critique

Oct 22
Group Critique

Oct 29
Open Studio
Individual meetings

Nov 03
Trip to Chicago
Leaving Carbondale 3am on Amtrak
Museum of Contemporary Art
Art Institute of Chicago

Leaving Chicago 8pm on Amtrak

Nov 05
Open Studio
Individual meetings

Nov 12
Open Studio
Individual meetings

Nov 17-25
Thanksgiving Break

Nov 26
Final Group Critique - 6pm-10pm
Appropriate documentation of all work completed is due.
Creative Statement/Reflection is due.
Scheduled: Tyler, Emma, Ashley, John, Daniel

Nov 26 - Dec 01
Tentatively scheduled - Group Exhibit/Screening - CP Gallery

Dec 03
Final Group Critique, continued - 6pm-10pm
Appropriate documentation of all work completed is due.
Scheduled: Daniel (continued), Jay, Dwayne, Zach, Michael

Dec 14, 5pm-7pm
University Scheduled Final
We will not meet in person.
Email the FINAL draft of your creative statement.


Attendence to all classes is expected. There are no acceptable number of absences. More than two unexcused absences may result in failure for the class. Two lates are the equivalent of one absence. Leaving a class early is considered equivalent to arriving late.

Journal/Sketchbook: Each student will regularly write responses to the class readings and discussions as well as the individual and group critiques. Students should also document their creative process, and artistic development within the journal. Have your journal/sketchbook with you at every class. Think of the journal as a resource to contain your present ideas and hints of future directions to explore.

Readings / Presentations: Students will be expected to present their past and current work as well as participate in the discussion of the assigned readings. Further details will be discussed in class.

Individual Meetings/Critique:
Students and instructor will regularly schedule individual meetings to discuss and critique works in progress and after completion.

Group Critique:
Participation in all critiques is required.
Formal Group critiques will begin promptly at the beginning of class and will allow students the opportunity to further develop the skills necessary to verbalize about their own work and artistic intentions and influences, as well as to provide meaningful and respectful feedback for their peers. Works-in-progress group critiques may be scheduled with advance notice. Appropriate documentation of all work completed during the semester will be due at the last group critique. Details of the documentation will be discussed in class.

Creative Statement/Reflection: At the end of the semester each student will be required to write a 2-3 page creative statement/reflection (printed hard copies) on the development of their work and process during the semester.

Your final grade will be determined by the following:

  • 20% Participation/Readings/Presentations
  • 10% Journal/Sketchbook/Reflection
  • 30% Individual Meeting/Critiques
  • 40% Group Critiques

Extra Opportunities for MFA Students

Group Exhibition
A group curated exhibit in the CP Gallery. Tentatively scheduled for 11/26-12/01. Details will be discussed in class.

Field Trip to Chicago and/or St. Louis
A field trip to Chicago will be planned during the semester which will allow us to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Details will be discussed in class. We may also consider a trip to St. Louis.

SIU Syllabus Attachment

SIU Syllabus Attachment - PDF