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Your First Year 2013
Your First Year at the Corcoran is not an independent Foundations program but rather an integrated, interdisciplinary experience involving not only all studio programs and faculty but also Arts and Humanities. This yearlong journey focuses on discovery, independence, and community, transitioning seamlessly into students’ second-year and departments.
Personal one-on-one advising and individual faculty mentoring help students understand the full range of experience at the college, their best choice for classes and course of study, and issues that arise en route to success.
The Corcoran guides Your First Year education according to the following categories:
The Corcoran fosters a course environment that introduces the fundamentals of digital information and the most advanced techniques to artists and designers. Students explore the application and possibilities in emerging technologies (photo, illustration, video, 3D modeling, etc.) as well as a critical relationship to digital software. Hybrid, cross-platform, and cross-media projects create an appreciation of new directions possible with new tools, an essential skill for the future.
Laptop, mobile device, and digital printing basics are taught alongside new digital technology aimed at new modes for expression—for example, life drawing with electronic tablet, sound sampling, and web communication.
Corcoran students will be poised to drive the creation and application of digital information and design.
Students explore formal structures of picture, space, and time while applying some of the classic fundamentals of color and design theory, 3D design, and performance. They are guided through dynamic formal exercises tracking increasingly complex systems for communicating ideas and expression. Communication through sign and symbol and expression in space and time may engender outrageous behavior, deep investigation, and cultural awareness.
Students are guided in the expansive and somewhat leveling digital landscape of pictures and words to find a balance between, on one hand, universal access to all pictures all the time, and, on the other, the context and relationships that order narrative and expression.
Sculptural practices and methods can take place in the shop environment of the sculpture lab, our classroom settings, gallery spaces and urban landscape, office, and library. This area of inquiry introduces the essentials of sculpture, installation, and performance within a space, with attention to the relations among artwork, artist, and viewer. Skill development in various materials illuminates how surface, shape, and surrounding all impact meaning. Space and form are extended to incorporate not only the plastic, tangible, or object bound, but social and communicative structures, places of exchange, units of humanity.
This inquiry combines the traditional spatial questions of form, volume, mass, and shape with definitions of sculpture yet to be articulated, at the edges of time and virtual environment.
This instructional space incorporates art history, social studies, and civic awareness. It uses the concrete objects of the gallery and museum as the foil for broad theoretical and historical discussion about the nature and problems of visual culture. Group activities are designed to work across the major landscapes of canonical art works the world over and on to the media terrain of today, situated in economic realities and structures and emerging technologies.
Student are exposed to broad surveys of Western and non-Western cultural activity pertinent to contemporary artists and designers, with specific topics providing ground for discussion and analysis. Rather than a “caves to Cubism” approach, we emphasize the role of creative activity in shaping development of culture. Academic classes are timed to tie in thematically with studio electives.
Along with traditional electives and majors, students explore the artist’s role and place in the world, today and in the future.
The goals of writing are to write clearly for one’s self and for audience, to formulate and express ideas, and to break new ground in form. Writing at the Corcoran develops analytic skills, not only in creative writing but also reviews, essays, and opinion pieces, for example. Multiple critical lenses are introduced tools with which to analyze and critique, express and protest. Students explore how literature and design mutually inform one another.
Students are encouraged to delve into their own experiences for themes and questions as well as popular and theoretical pieces for models and criticism. Late-20th-century trends in literature and criticism are explored alongside web-based, blog, DIY, and social media formats.
This is a component of every student’s experience, structuring community involvement as a volunteer in hospices, AIDS education organizations, fundraising auctions, etc. Students work closely with the Corcoran’s Public Education department.
Specific communal engagement of the more familiar kind—mural and urban design, renewal and pro bono poster and campaign design— extend art learning into the civic realm, in the form of both electives and campus groups. Classes and activities related to societies, structures, power centers, democracy, the built environment, protest, and action complement these activities.
These initiatives cover the social acclimatization and acculturation to college in general and art school in particular. Advising, counseling, group cohesion, safe and healthy behavior, learning workshops, and celebration offer the most personal and powerful school experience possible.
Competitions, fashion shows, and student music and theatrical performance help generate the kind of total cultural experience best for artists and designers and college freshman. Annual formal parties and art shows celebrate student efforts and expression.
A practicum bridges the gap between social engagement and academic focus. Short intense learning experiences cover some of the highly technical training involved in certain disciplines—for example, canvas preparation for painters. This is a time for short but focused interaction with industry professionals who bring state-of-the-art learning to targeted student groups. Additionally, this is a time for new experiences just outside student’s major work—for example, a short course in sewing or dress design, styling, or musical instrument instruction. Corcoran Gallery of Art staff work with students on activities including advertising, archiving, curating, and carpentry.
First-Year Writing Portfolio
Beginning in the first year, all students collect all creative and research writing into portfolios that are assessed at the end of the first year and that travel along with the students to their major departments. Studio and academic instructors have access to individual portfolios for the purpose of approving semester-by-semester advancement and building familiarity with the students. The concrete example of the academic excellence they have achieved becomes a tool for applying to advanced degrees or employment.
Contact Ivan Witenstein, Associate Dean of Curricular Planning, at IWitenstein@corcoran.org