Fall 2019 - CA 160 D100

Introductory Studio in Visual Art I (3)

Class Number: 9775

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM

  • Instructor:

    David Biddle
    Office: GC 3520
    Office Hours: By appointment



A hands-on studio course modeled on the progressive development of artistic practice from simple mark-making to full scale installation. Through a process of continuous transformation, an original idea is developed in a sequence of methods, materials and scales. Some research is required. A course materials fee is required. Students with credit for FPA 160 may not take this course for further credit.


CA 160 is a studio-based course that provides a practical and theoretical foundation for contemporary visual art. The course is organized through a series of projects concentrating on the fundamental aspects of the visual art process and the nature of materials. The projects guide the student through experimentation in a range of mediums in both two and three dimensions. Each project is a logical development from the one preceding it. The course text and in-class discussions focus on developing the student’s ability to discuss art works with a critical awareness of issues of representation. The work of a variety of contemporary artists is introduced through in-class presentations. As an integral part of their creative activity, students are expected to contribute to class discussions and critiques of each project through engaged, informed and constructive criticism. In addition, students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with contemporary art through assigned readings and visits to galleries, museums and other exhibition sites.



CA 160 is a unique visual art course where grades are calculated after all the projects in the course have been completed at the end of the semester. This approach emphasizes the studio process as an important element in the production of art. In other words, this class focuses on the evolution of projects, rather than merely the outcome. Each project is the basis for the next project, and thus projects become steps or increments in a whole studio approach, leading to the end of the semester. The final project will provide an opportunity to consider all or many of the processes covered in the course.

Thus evaluation for this course is not on a project-by-project basis, but is based on an accumulation of each student’s work, as well as each student’s approach to working. Students will be assigned a grade at the end of the semester. If a student is perceived as not meeting the expectations of this course, the instructor will inform the student during the semester.

1/3 of your grade is calculated based on the following:
  • Growth and development over the course of the semester
  • Resourcefulness (thoughtful and inventive problem solving)
  • Tenacity (especially the ability to pull oneself out of a place of disappointment with a stage in the process and move on to a place of interest)
  • Collaborative skills (using the classroom as a community of peers as part of problem solving and knowledge development
  • Ability to keep up with projects by working outside of class when necessary.
  • Respect for peers
  • Proper handling of studio tools, equipment
2/3 of your grade is based on your coursework
  • Class projects 50%
  • Artist project/presentation 10%
  • Gallery Report 10%
  • Sketchbook Documentation 5%
  • Final Project 15%
The remaining 10% of your mark will be based on attendance, studio conduct, participation in class discussions and preparedness. If you miss a class please speak to me about your absence. It is your responsibility to find out what you have missed. **In the Visual Arts, critiques are the equivalent of exams in fine arts (though way more fun.) Lateness will not be tolerated and absenteeism requires a doctor’s note or an official request (coming from the registrar) citing compassionate leave (ie. death in the family).

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is a pedagogical tenet of this process-based class that students do NOT know what the assignments will be ahead of time. This choice is motivated by a desire to help students stay “in the present” with each artwork they make. The hope is that by staying in the present, and by grading at the end of the semester instead of as you go, the student’s focus will shift from grades to process.



Coursepack. Available on canvas.


Mary Anne Staniszewski. Believing is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art. 1st edition 1995. Penguin Books

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html