A typical course of study in the art history major begins with Art 106 and Art 107, two survey courses that cover the major historical periods of art and develop the students’ cultural literacy in a wide range of Western and non-Western artistic traditions. They emphasize art as a means of expression and communication, introduce the descriptive and critical vocabulary of art history and outline the qualities of different media. Students apply this knowledge in a short analytical paper based on an artwork in the Art Institute of Chicago. At the 200- and 300-level, art history courses focus more narrowly on a specific culture, topic or period of art. The course requirements include a research paper designed to broaden the students’ research techniques, refine their writing abilities, and sharpen their analytical and critical thinking skills. Art history majors are also required to take Art 202: Methods of Research in Art History. This course emphasizes research methods, writing skills, and both traditional and contemporary art historical methodology.
Art history majors have the opportunity to serve as curators and jurors for the Art Department's annual juried student exhibition and to work with the student Art Club on a variety of exhibitions and events. Each semester one art history major is appointed to tutor students in 100-level art history courses through the University's Learning Center. Every second year a two-week study tour of Italy is offered in conjunction with a 300-level course on the art of the Italian Renaissance.
At the introductory level, students learn a variety of methods for constructing sculptural as well as functional objects. Focus is placed on technique, craftsmanship and the development of individual artistic direction.
As students progress, the focus is on technique: mastering wheel work and gaining an understanding of the chemistry of clay and glazing. Students research clay and glazes, and begin to explore firing processes and proper use of the kiln. Upper-level students explore advanced ceramic processes and engage in advanced thematic investigation in pursuit of the creation of relevant and meaningful work. They build on their accumulated knowledge of ceramic art history and vocabulary, with emphasis placed on the contemporary relevance and conceptual possibilities of the medium. Assignments range from exploring the notion of multiples to site-specific installation, and the performance aspects of ceramics.
Students are challenged to transcend ceramic traditions and explore the discipline’s abstract and sculptural potential, while building a self-directed studio practice. Students are required to build a portfolio of personal work that they can present in a professional manner.
Design and Multimedia
The design and multimedia studio is equipped with 23 Apple iMac computers with 27-inch screens. Each computer is connected to a Wacom drawing tablet and features current, industry-standard tools for animation and design. Access to Adobe CS6 Master Collection software for drawing, Web page design, image manipulation and multimedia work is available to students during and outside of class.
Large-screen display using Epson PowerLite Pro Full HD Projector and a surround sound system are used for demonstrations and presentations during class time.
The facility has two high-resolution scanners that can scan up to 12" x 17". Black-and-white printing and color printing up to 12" x 18" using the Konica Minolta laser printer is available for students in the classroom.
Large-format printing using an Epson 9900 printer capable of printing 44 inches wide is available to students for special projects or pertinent assignments. Additionally, a professional-quality monochrome 3D ZPrinter 150 is available to students for special projects.
The facility is open to students outside of class time, including on weekends.
The graphic design area also has a print shop with a Vandercook letterpress and a collection of metal type for short-run printing.
The Metals/Jewelry concentration encourages personal expression through the creation of jewelry, functional objects and sculpture. Students first gain a mastery of basic tools and materials, learning the essential processes by which metal can be manipulated, including but not limited to soldering, cold connections, casting and etching. Utilizing nonferrous metals such as bronze, sterling silver, copper and brass, students create a range of objects that address basic design problems, functional considerations and conceptual ideas. Upper-level students learn advanced techniques and are expected to demonstrate ingenuity and skill by finding unique design solutions for each assignment. Students are taught contemporary metalworking throughout the semester. There is an emphasis on critical thinking skills, synthesizing conceptual ideas and understanding intentionality in finished works.
The Metals/Jewelry area is equipped with bench space for 20 students. The studio has a 50-ton hydraulic press for forming and embossing, both wire and sheet rolling mills, a draw bench, a large selection of hammers and stakes, a centrifugal casting machine along with programmable burnout kilns and a vacuum machine, pitch bowls and hammers for chasing, a sandblaster, an exposure unit, plating and anodizing tanks, an industrial drill press, polishing machines, shears and a bending brake, acetylene and oxy-acetylene tanks for soldering and welding and a specialized kiln for enameling. Dedicated hand tools as well as specialized chemicals are also provided for student use.
Among the advanced techniques taught are: casting, forging, forming, photo etching, electroforming, anodizing, color and patination on metal, chasing and repoussé, enameling, raising and hydraulic press methods.
The studio is available 24/7 to students after they have read a safety handout and have been trained in proper use of the equipment.
The painting concentration develops a student’s observational, composition, color and critical thinking skills through the use of oil, acrylic and mixed-media painting techniques. Students work with a variety of subject matter and source materials, including still life, landscape and the figure, as well as photographs, invention and non-objective approaches. Students experiment with painting styles ranging from naturalism to abstraction. They also have the option of working in collaborative mural projects during the summer term. Critical thinking skills are used to analyze both historical and contemporary works of art as well as during critiques. Upper-level students are encouraged to engage in conceptual thinking and to build thematic relationships within a self-directed body of work.
The concentration begins with the basics camera operation with digital capture. As students progress, they explore both conceptual and advanced technical approaches to photography, including traditional silver and alternative processes, photographic lighting, and advanced image editing. Critical thinking skills, conceptual approaches and the development of a cohesive portfolio are essential at the upper level.
The photography studio includes a wet-process photographic darkroom, a lighting studio and an iMac computer lab. The darkroom has 8 stations with Beseler 4" x 5" enlargers and Zone VII 8" x 10" enlargers, and a UV Exposure unit for alternative processes. The Computer lab has iMac computer stations, film scanners capable of input up to 8" x 10" film, and an Epson 44" printer. The 300-square-foot shooting studio has multiple hot lights and strobe kits, and 4" x 5" cameras.
All facilities are available for 24/7 use after students have attended a safety orientation and have been trained in proper use of the equipment.
The printmaking processes supported by Northeastern’s printmaking studio include intaglio, lithography, relief and screen printing. The studio environment also fosters experimental printmaking techniques, as well as monotype and monoprint processes.
The intaglio and relief area includes a Vertical Tank Ferric Chloride etching system, one 24" x 36" etching press specifically dedicated to intaglio processes and one 33" x 60" Takach etching press dedicated to relief and monotype processes.
The screen printing area includes two stationary printing stations, portable printing stations, an AWT exposure unit for screens up to 29" x 51", an AWT Accu-Glide vacuum table for prints up to 24" x 30", a washout room and an I Mac computer station for digital processes and film and stencil production (computer, scanner, laser printer).
The lithography area includes one 33" x 60" Takach lithography press dedicated to stone lithography, one 25" x 48" Takach lithography press dedicated to polyester plate lithography, lithographic stones, a graining sink and a hydraulic lift.
General studio equipment includes a light table, four worktables, two sets of drying racks, four inking stations, a ventilation system and flat file drawers for each student for storage during the semester.
The sculpture program begins with modeling in clay, plaster mold making, and casting. Students also explore the wood shop and metal shop for the construction and fabrication of sculpture in different media. Woodwork involves mechanized and manual techniques of cutting and carving. The metal shop allows students to cut, weld and construct steelworks.
At advanced levels, students are encouraged to explore contemporary applications of traditional processes and find personal subject matter. Critical thinking skills are developed, and students have the opportunity to explore installation art. Upper-level students typically focus on a particular material or area (e.g., wood, metal, modeling, casting) and develop their own body of work.