01. Course Description

West Virginia Wesleyan College // School of Fine Arts & Humanities
Department of Art
Fall Term 2015  //  3D Design  //  ART155
Classroom: McCuskey Room 108
Tue/Thu 6-8:30pm
Professor: Ellen Mueller // Office: McCuskey Room 105
Office Hours: Mon/Wed, 3-5:30pm & by appointment
Email: mueller_e@wvwc.edu


3D Design is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals and technical principles of working three dimensionally. Students will experiment with a number of construction methods and materials used to create, represent, respond to, and reflect on form in space.

We will read, watch, and discuss perspectives on 3D art and design written/created by artists, curators, art historians, and critics. Using this information as a springboard, we will create our own 3D works. Experimentation is always a virtue to have as an artist. Simultaneously keep deadlines, craft, and context in mind. Be ambitious.


  • Students will practice utilizing a variety of materials that could include paper, cardboard, clay, inflatables, molding/casting, and 3D modeling/printing.
  • Students will think about/discuss 3D art and design processes through reading, discussion assignments, and short answer quizzes.
  • By brainstorming, researching and presenting, students will identify their own artistic sources and influences.
  • Students will practice identifying and utilizing the elements and principles of design in a three-dimensional environment by creating and critiquing art and design works. This process will also enhance written and oral fluency in artistic language.
  • Students will practice brainstorming to strengthen their ability to form creative conceptual ideas.
  • Students will demonstrate the professional activities of an artist in terms of documenting their work and self-discipline to complete all work in a timely fashion. Students will practice documenting their work, turning in a disk or jump drive of all their work at the end of the semester.



We will encounter frustrations as we deal with unexpected road-blocks, and create workarounds that fit within our timeline. These are important skills to practice, as you will do the same when you leave school and enter the world of professional artistic practice. Our weekly discipline will include a variety of activities which may include, but are not limited to, discussion, active installation creation/viewing, sketchbook entries, and scheduled readings/writings. It is important to know you do not have to be a trained artist to participate in this course. However you must be willing to explore how this medium allows you to develop and refine your artistic practice, regardless of your preferred artistic medium. Please note that an instructor, I cannot force the effort required to practice art. It must come from a desire and aptitude for struggle. Dedication and willingness to create will ensure your success in this class.


We’re about to experience some content that can be, and has in the past been, considered provocative. People in this course have been offended by what we’re about to see, so even if you think this is harmless or funny, keep in mind that this can also offend. Have respect for how other people in the room feel. That said: provocative art might not be directly offensive, but can remind you of difficult experiences, and it can work on you emotionally before your thinking mind has a chance to catch up. This means it can surprise you, and that’s ok, and this room is a place to talk about offendedness and problematic art, and you can also communicate with me via email or office visit. I’ll also try to contextualize this art by putting it in its historical moment where it will hopefully make better sense.


The work created in the course may be of a personal and/or controversial nature. Please respect your colleagues and give their work your best attention. If you disagree with a work or its content, remember that when engaging with others’ work you must be a responsible and professional critic, and as such must work to make your criticism constructive and descriptive. Speak in this class with the expectation of being heard, and listen carefully because it is an opportunity to be changed.


We go to college to for a degree and a job, but we also go to college to become better members of society. We are here to learn…

  • Love of truth: Love of truth is an intellectual virtue because its absence has serious moral consequences. Relativism chips away at our fundamental respect for one another as human beings. Once truth becomes suspect, debates become little more than efforts at manipulation (think of political spin).
  • Honesty: Honesty enables students to face the limits of what they themselves know; it encourages them to own up to their mistakes.
  • Fair-mindedness: Students need to be fair-minded in evaluating the arguments of others (being aware of their own biases).
  • Humility: Humility allows students to face up to their own limitations and mistakes and to seek help from others.
  • Perseverance: Students need perseverance, since little that is worth knowing or doing comes easily. We will practice this skill rigorously.
  • Courage: Students need intellectual courage to stand up for what they believe is true and take risks.
  • Good listening: Students can’t learn from others, or from their professors, without listening. It takes courage to be a good listener, because good listeners know that their own views of the world, along with their plans for how to live in it, may be at stake whenever they have a serious conversation.
  • Perspective-taking and empathy: It takes a great deal of intellectual sophistication to get perspective-taking right. You must be able to put yourself in the shoes of someone else and identify with their unique situation. These skills pay enormous dividends in professional life.
  • Wisdom: Any of the intellectual virtues I’ve mentioned can be carried to an extreme. Wisdom is what enables us to find the balance between timidity and recklessness, carelessness and obsessiveness, flightiness and stubbornness, speaking up and listening up, trust and skepticism, empathy and detachment. Wisdom is also what enables us to make difficult decisions when intellectual virtues conflict. Being empathetic, fair, and open-minded often rubs up against fidelity to the truth. Practical wisdom is the master virtue.[credit to Barry Schwartz]