Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVirginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts
VCUarts is ranked #1 among public art schools by US News & World Report

Art Adventure Weekends

Here’s what’s offered in 2014:

The following Art Adventures are designed to supplement students’ Summer Intensive experiences.  Each Adventure brings students from different disciplines together, empowering them to enhance their creative thinking and problem solving abilities, collaborate in groups, and turn their ideas into realities. Students do not need prior skills or knowledge to participate in any of the Adventures.

Click here to download the information packet

Each two-day Adventure will run from 12:15 – 4:15 pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Please review the following Art Adventure descriptions and select one Adventure per weekend.  The $50 fee per weekend entitles students to eight hours of art-centered instruction.

Participant work will be displayed during the final exhibition on August 1st.  The adventures provide another way for students to build credentials for college applications and their portfolios.

Students who do not wish to participate in the Art Adventures must go home for the weekend.  Students deciding to go home may have their parents may pick them up at the dorm at 4:30 pm on Friday and may return on Sunday at 7 pm.

Please note that space in each Adventure is limited to 20 or fewer participants.  Adventure(s) will be filled on a first come first served basis. To assure a spot in your preferred Adventures return pages 4 and 5 along with your fees ASAP. Deadline: May 16th


WEEKEND #1: JULY 19th and 20th

Magnetic, Aesthetic and Poetic: Simplified Form in Graphic Communication and Environmental Graphics
Instructor:  Nathan Tersteeg, MFA

Students will work as a team to prepare a theme-oriented series of graphic images that utilize drawing and design skills to create large-scale images on sheets of magnetic material to apply to automobiles.  Work will be applied to cars so it can be viewed all together, and students get to keep their individual magnets.

Discussions focus on graphic design/advertising as related to public spaces (e.g., vehicle graphics and billboards) and the visual editing process that goes into simplifying depiction into graphic logos or symbols. Discussions also include classic, high impact advertising images, the viewer experience, safety and public graphics, with an eventual goal of linking the creation of symbol to the specificity of drawing.  Students work together to conceive of a theme for a touring vehicle that offers an aesthetic experience or a specific communication goal, and decide which types of images might serve that goal. 

Materials to bring:
- Sketch pad
- Pencils or pens for drawing
- A sharpie
- A paint brush – An economy brush is fine.

Contact Microphones, Noise, Vibration and Space
Instructor: Nia Burks, MFA & MA

The goal of this workshop is to introduce sound as a physical object. The students will gain knowledge of sound and noise as an artistic medium through lectures on sound, vibration, space, noise and alternative aural experiences with a focus on atonal creative space.  Specifically, students will investigate the physical qualities of sound through the construction and usage of contact microphones to experience sound. Students will be encouraged to test the limits of their current understanding of artistic mediums, collaborate with other students and learn new approaches to create experiential works that exist beyond visual experiences.

On day 2 students will finish construction of contact microphones, record a finished sound art piece and take work home on a jump drive.

Materials to bring:
-  Roll of electrical tape
-  Hot glue gun with one pack of glue sticks
-  Needle nose pliers capable of wire stripping
-  A jump drive for saving your work.  Don’t spend more than $10 for one.

Note: Transducers and audio cables will be provided for each student.

Earth, Body and Vessel
Instructor:  Lauren Miller

Students will create open clay vessels using basic pinch and coil techniques. Discussions will focus on creating a narrative surface using personal interests as inspiration.  Students will view videos of Grayson Perry-Turner Prize winner ceramics, and then be introduced to coil/pinching techniques. Students will begin work with hands on help from professor and teaching assistant. The final discussion will focus on ideas for surface with built vessel near completion and a demo of surface techniques.  Day two will begin with a segment on the revolution of the wheel followed by short group discussions on vessels prior to surface treatment.  Students will begin surface ornamentation with one-on-one assistance.  Class size is limited to 14 so sign up quickly.

Materials to bring: 
-Photos, small personal mementos to be incorporated into your work, jewels, etc.
-Plastic grocery bags to cover project overnight
- Old forks and knives to be used as tools

Introduction to Videogame Level Design in Unreal Development Kit
Instructor: Zach Kurth-Nelson

Students will be introduced to the Unreal Development Kit (UDK) and its prevalent use in the professional and amateur game development worlds.  Students will follow instructor to build everything he builds, so that by the end of the first day they will have saved two small levels as examples to which they can refer for subsequent building.  Next, the class will tackle the interface. Students we get an overview of what the buttons do bit by bit.  Zach will next demonstrate tricks for navigating the 2D view of the 3D world through the 4 orthographic and perspective viewports.   Students will practice navigating a pre-made level with these new techniques.  Using BSP brushes students will build a few simple adjoining rooms.

Next, they will add textures/materials to the walls, floors and ceiling. Rooms will be populated with static meshes, and Zach will explain how game engines simulate reality almost entirely through the manipulation of static meshes. Students will also create an outdoor level with terrain and a skybox. Day 2 will focus on creating gallery presentations for the final day’s Show Your Stuff exhibit. Previous experience with UDK is not required. Sign up quickly!  Class size is limited to 14.

Materials to bring: 
-USB hard drive at least 512 MB for storing work

Jewelry Design through Casting
Instructor: Danielle Stevens

Stevens is fascinated with relationships and tries to reference the intimate interactions between people and organic forms by using cast elements.  During this two-day workshop, casting techniques and different possibilities that can be achieved using casting over Metal Fabrication will be investigated.  Different examples from history will be explored as will contemporary cast jewelry.

On day two students will sand cast; this method is very low tech and most commonly used in industrial production. The metal casting process dates back to 3000 B.C.  Students will learn how to carve wax, make molds, simple metal fabrication, and finishing techniques for metal surfaces.  Class size is capped at 15 so sign up early.

Materials to bring:
-  Please come with ideas about your favorite memory or story. Pick out the strongest elements in the memory/story.
-  Sketch pad
-  Pencils and pens
-  Found objects (e.g., plastic toys no bigger than 1.5 inches)

Important:  Students must wear long pants and closed toe shoes on Day 2.


WEEKEND #2: JULY 26th – 27th  

Mug Madness
Instructor: Mary Elkins

Students will be shown images of thoughtful hand built mugs and cups, then will learn how to wedge clay and make pinch pots.  Next, students will learn coil and slab building techniques with the goal of making one or two mugs (depending on time constraints). Mugs will dry overnight so they will be ready for texture and slip the next day. Day two, students will learn texturing techniques such as faceting and sgraffito, as well as how to add color to their pots prior to glazing.  Class size is capped at 12 so sign up quickly.

Materials to bring: 
-A small, cheap brush and anything you want to use to add texture to your mug
-Wear clothes and shoes (such as old sneakers) you don’t mind getting dirty or bring an apron

Cover to Cover: An Adventure in Handmade Books
Instructor: Meg Murtagh

Students will learn a variety of bookbinding techniques to create journals, sketchbooks, and photo albums.  The instructor will give an overview of bookmaking, including the tools, materials, and a variety of processes.  Day 1 the students will learn Japanese stab-binding, how to make a pamphlet book and a notepad. Day 2 they’ll learn a more intricate stitching method called “Coptic Binding”. Emphasis will be placed on personalizing and embellishing all books.

Materials to bring: 
- Scissors
- Ruler
- 1 or 2 sheets of handmade paper that are about 18″x 24″. These may be purchased from an art supply store. (Recommended store in Richmond is Plaza Art.)  Tell art supply store personnel you will be using the paper to cover books and they can help you find the appropriate paper. Make sure the paper isn’t too thin (nothing that is as thin as tissue paper) but nothing as thick as card stock.

Beginning Screenplay Writing
Instructor: Todd Raviotta, MFA

This workshop will offer students tools and formatting tips appropriate for writing a short film or video. (Screenwriting will only be touched on very lightly during the Filmmaking class so this program is recommended to supplement that course, as well as the Theatre class.)  Participants will watch movie clips about screenplay writing and the job of a screenwriter.  Rules and vocabulary, as well as samples of featured scripts and short film scripts will be reviewed.  Students will begin writing prompts and completing exercises.  Outlines of scripts will be begun by the end of session 1. On day 2 revisions of scripts will continue with work sessions in mini-groups.  Rewrites will be finalized.

Materials to bring:
-Flash drive memory stick
-Notebook, pencils and pens
-A file folder or binder to hold the handouts received

Inventive Typography Workshop
Instructor: Kelley White, MFA

Students will learn about graphic design through the creation of a picture-based font. They will explore brainstorming techniques, the basics of text and image relationships, and methods for designing symbols.  This adventure will begin with a visual overview of the history of graphic design, as well as the importance of typography and its beginnings, from cave dwelling to modern day.  Students will develop a theme for a collaborative font, set up parameters as a group as to what the marks need to incorporate to be a working set.  A picture font will be created using sharpie markers.

Drawings will be collected, digitized and reproduced to scale so they are all relative size to work as a font.  Font will be utilized the second day in designs which can be used on a variety of usable objects.   

Materials to bring: 
-Chartpak Blender Marker
-Black Sharpie
-Sketchbook and other pencils/pens for sketching

GIF: Untapped Fine Art Medium
Instructor: Nia Burks, MFA and MA

Students will gain exposure to and understanding of GIF (graphic interchange format) as a creative medium.  Students will be challenged in their conventional ideas of art making, art objects, process, and animation as it applies to the world of digital photography and filmmaking.  The essential history of GIF’s will be explored, as well as their application throughout web history.  Once a basic historical context and understanding is established, students will learn how to use Photoshop to manually create a GIF animation.

Finally, the students will use their own GIF, and apply sequential web animation to a fine art context.  Students will create a work of art that is to be displayed in GIF format.  A specific prompt will be given to the group that they will create their animation based on. Students will be given homework at the end of day 1 so they can come to class Day 2 with drawings, writings and ideas for their animation.

Materials to bring:
-Sketchbook
-Pencils
-A jump drive to save your work.  Don’t spend more than $10 for one