Art classes give students space to express

Meghan McCarron

by Cami Buckman, Staff Writer

San Diego State offers a handful of unique courses among its variety of classes for students to fulfill their artistic needs.

Tucked inside the intricate design of the art building are classrooms for courses dedicated to the art of furniture making.

Furniture design and woodworking deals with the basic techniques of woodworking and the principles of design of furniture.

The courses are offered from the basic undergraduate introduction level, such as Intro Woodworking, and continues up to the advanced graduate level.

“Some of the furniture we design in the class can be referred to as studio furniture, and making the furniture functional is not a necessity,” said graduate student Nathaniel Hall, who currently teaches the intermediate-level undergraduate furniture course.

For example, students were assigned a project in which they had to design a tray.

Students could interpret a tray in whatever conceptual or practical form they perceived.

“How do you successfully incorporate your artistic elements and materials into a functional object that falls under the furniture category?” asked course teacher assistant Joshua Torbick, who graduated from the furniture design program last spring. “It’s hard to elevate an object that you would find in your home or business into something that could be considered a piece of art.”

The functionality of furniture may be a debated topic among those in the industry, but Hall believes it is important for his students to learn the technical skills of woodworking in order to become successful with one’s conceptual work.

“The goal of why we’re here is to create emotion with the products we produce,” Hall said. “It’s pretty empowering when you are able to do so, and I try to push that concept to all my students.”

Unconventional art classes are offered not only to art majors.

The dance program has unique classes for its students, as well.

Dance sophomore Natalie Thomas has had her fair share of experiences in various dance classes. In her Modern Dance 1 course, Thomas participated in a warm-up exercise in which students spent 45 minutes shaking.

“People were yelling, people were shaking each other and people were even twerking for 45 minutes straight,” Thomas said.

Another activity in the class involved an exercise in which students were responsible for improvising choreography. Students had to walk down one flight of stairs while improvising choreography in 30 minutes.

Interpretation is a large element of what makes these dance classes one of a kind. In professor Leslie Seiters’ and professor Jess Humphrey’s Dance Making course, students can interpret any presented topic into a dance of their choice.

“From a personal standpoint, taking these classes helps me to get out of my comfort zone and get more creative,” Thomas said.

Outlandish exercises help students when applying their technical skills in a choreographed routine.

“Having the experience of shaking for a long period of time, or walking down one flight of stairs for half an hour, helps me when I have to learn set choreography or put my leg behind my head,” Thomas said.

For students interested in learning the hands-on methods to designing jewelry, SDSU also offers course to satisfy that desire.

Introduction to Jewelry and Metalwork, taught by assistant professor Kerianne Quick, focuses on the creative design and construction of metal in jewelry and other small objects.

“If I say the word jewelry, you may think of (Tiffany & Co.) jewelers or diamonds, but there is this whole avant-garde world of making jewelry,” Quick said.

The course introduces students to the contemporary aspect of jewelry while also learning the basic metalworking skills to be a bench jeweler.

One project students completed involved an assignment in which they had to design and create a metal box to contain something intangible, such as love or sunshine.

“Jewelry classes are great for anyone wanting to improve their finger dexterity or even their hand-eye coordination,” Quick said.

She encourages learning the skills of metalworking for students who want to become dentists, surgeons or even pianists.

While not everyone wants to become a furniture maker, dancer or jeweler, SDSU offers a plethora of artistic classes for students interested in exploring their creative and interpretive sides.

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