ART3711 SCULPTURE: Materials and Methods

Anthony Castronovo, Professor
The University of Florida
Fall Semester 2009
Meeting Times: T R 8-10 (3:00-6:00 PM)
Classroom: FAC B-1
Office: FAD 337a
Office Hours: T R 10-11:30 AM or by appointment


SCULPTURE: Materials and Methods is an introduction to the materials, methods, and concepts of sculpture. We will explore the material properties and expressive potential of fibers/textiles, plaster, wood, and metals. We will combine the use of materials and methods with ideas that trace the history of twentieth century sculpture from early modernism to the present. Emphasis will be placed on materiality, the relationship of material to concept, and the processes used in making a sculpture. In addition, the course will address contemporary issues relating to sculpture in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We will approach each project as a “Materials Laboratory” where our objective will be to learn traditional materials and techniques and push those processes into new ways of working. The mantra of the “Materials Laboratory” will be: “Form-finding through the self-organization of materials.”

Realize that this course is a great opportunity for us all, that we are all alive at such an exciting time in history:



ATTENDANCE is required at all classes, critiques, campus lectures, and field trips. More than three absences over the semester will result in a grade reduction of 1/2 of one letter grade from the semester average. Your letter grade will continue to drop with each accumulation of more than three absences. Three significantly late arrivals (15 minutes or more) or early departures (ditto) will constitute one absence. You are expected to work on projects during class time, which includes having materials needed. Working at home is not considered attendance. Attendance at all critiques is mandatory. If you are not present for critiques your work will not be critiqued by either the professor or the class as a group.

If you are absent for a valid reason (illness with documentation, military obligations, observations of religious holy days of your faith, participation in official university activities, or court imposed obligations) you must call or email the professor prior to your absence and you must contact the professor on the day you return to make-up missed assignments. Please be in class on time because all announcements, lectures, demonstrations and presentations will take place at the beginning of class.

PROJECTS must be completed by the due dates. Due dates will only be delayed for the class as a whole, not for individuals. Projects completed late will receive a grade reduction commensurate with the reason for the lateness and with the extent of the lateness. A schedule of due dates will be given out with each project.

CRITIQUES are an essential part of the practice of art and require a strong commitment on the part of all students and the professor. Critiques are exhausting but very beneficial. Critique is the educational equivalent of exhibition. Therefore, work must be ready for critique and you must be in attendance at critique. (See attendance above) ACTIVE AND THOUGHTFUL participation is required. Physical attendance alone does not constitute participation in critique. You will be graded on the quality of your participation in critique.

READINGS, slides and videos are required with each project and responses are due in writing or in presentation format on the date assigned. Since readings are selected because of their relationship to the concepts underlying each project, they are meant to be completed at the beginning of each project and, for that reason, written responses will not be accepted any later than one week after the deadline. Late responses will receive a reduced grade. In no case will late responses to readings be accepted after the project itself is due. Reading materials will be kept in the classroom for student use or packets will be available for purchase at Target. Books will be on reserve in the Fine Arts Library.

Students are responsible for anything posted within this site, if links are provided, please take the time to investigate and read. The assignments and material should be seen as the beginnings of research, and I expect everyone to go above and beyond the information that I provide(i.e. do tangential research, it is a quest!)


Your work will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria of requirements and expectations:

  1. Fulfillment of the project objectives as established with each Project
  2. Attention to craftsmanship
  3. A spirit of investigation and experimentation
  4. Conceptual rigor
  5. Material inventiveness
  6. Physical investment: The sweat factor
  7. Overall aesthetic and conceptual quality of the work


Official Breakdown:

FINAL SEMESTER EVALUATIONS will be averaged as follows:

CRITICAL DATES are provided with each project description. All projects are due on the due dates given in the project descriptions. Final critique will be held on the last day of class of the Fall semester.


All students must understand the University's policies concerning Hazardous Waste. All students must print and read the Hazardous Waste Management Guide, and are required to be aware of the hazards of any materials they use in the studio space and how to dispose of them properly. For more informaion please visit UF's department of Environmental Health Services.

The Department of Art and its faculty assume no responsibility for any materials or projects left in the classrooms. It is each student’s responsibility to remove all materials and projects from the classrooms after the course has concluded. If the student needs to make individual arrangements with the instructor to keep any materials after the class has ended, it is the student’s responsibility to make these arrangements, with the instructor’s approval. Student grades may be withheld for failure to do so. Any artwork, supplies, or other materials left in the classroom after the semester has concluded, without prior specific arrangements with the responsible faculty, will be disposed of.

Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.

Turn off your cell phones upon entering the classroom. Absolutely no cell phone use in the classroom or sculpture shops. Please retreat to the hallways or outside for emergency calls. Student acknowledges the cell phone termination policy and accepts destruction by smashing of their cell phone in instances of repeat offenses.

University of Florida honesty policy regarding cheating and use of copyrighted materials applies. See student handbook.




Aug.25 Introduction to course. Wood Project introduced. Locker and storage assignments. Assignments given out for Tues. Aug. 27 on letter/symbol exercise. Reading on Japanese Sculptors.

Aug. 27 Shop Orientation with Brad Smith. Introduction to Japanese artists, discussion of reading. Look at work of Martin Puryear. Discuss symbol project. Go to library for research. Richard Deacon reading for Tuesday; check out Deacon's extensive website; read and takes notes for discussion on Tues.

Sep.1 Demonstration by Brad Smith on one joint. Discussion of possible joint solutions for letter/symbol designs. Begin work in shop. Discussion of Richard Deacon reading.Tony Cragg reading for Thursday

Sept.3 Continuation of letter/symbol joint exercise. Must be completed today or outside of class prior to Sept. 8. Discussion of one Reading and slide viewing. Discuss Tony Cragg reading. Begin discussion of next project, Passages.

Sept. 8 First project due. Proposals for Passages due, this includes detailed drawing, scale, materials, sizes. Group discussion of proposals. Discussion with Brad Smith before 5:00 pm of possible problems to look out for. Continuation of discussion and project revisions until 6:00 pm. Discussion of another reading if time remains.

Sept. 10 All materials must be with you and you must be ready to begin the Passages project. Final discussion of remaining readings.

Sept. 15 Intense work in wood shop

Sept. 17 Intense work in wood shop. Mid project review.

Sept. 22 Intense work in wood shop

Sept. 24 Intense work in wood shop

Oct. 1 Introduce plaster project, look at artists who have used plaster in their work. Everyone is required to purchase at least one half bag (50lb) of molding plaster, which means finding a friend to split the bag with. Talk about alginate and maybe organize an order. Final Work Day before critique. Readings for Thursday: Tony Cragg, Secret Life of Dust, Louis Bourgeois (LB images)

Oct. 6 Critique of Passages/Wood.

Oct. 8 Discussion of readings. Must have plaster in class by today to start experiments. Build objects, cast forms, model surfaces, combine materials, create materials. Methods of forming include: casting, working direct, carving, forming with armature, mold-making, etc. Create 10 various solutions or examples. when we start working with plaster, we all need a few things: 1 large bucket to mix plaster in, maybe some smaller quart size plastic containers to scoop plaster with, clear plastic or a trash bag to put down on the work surface.....and things to experiment wit: materials, textures, objects to make molds of, things to cast plaster into.....pigments, matter, stuff....

Oct. 13 Half-page artists responses due. Proposals due, these are to be typed and drawings included, scan them and print, i want one packet turned in to me.

Oct. 15 Studio day

Oct. 20 Studio day

Oct. 22 Studio day. Mid project review at beginning of class.

Oct. 27 Studio day

Oct. 29 Studio day

Nov. 3  Critique.

Nov. 10 Introduction to PROJECT #3: TEXTILE TECTONICS. What is tectonics? What is a fiber? What is a textile? Reading assignments explained. Please download four readings for Thursday Nov. 12: Eva Hesse, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Richard Serra's verb list, Jana Sterbak
Videos: (2) Christo, 30 minutes or so, Ann Hamilton ART 21 also about 30 minutes.

Nov. 12 Slide presentation. Discussion of readings. Bring in 10 “fibers” to class that you think you may want to experiment with. Try 10 different methods of “weaving” those fibers into a textile. Clean and prepare for ART BASH!!! Readings for Tuesday: Biodynamics, Jana Sterbak 02, Jackie Winsor.

Assignment: 10 ways of combining your fibers into textile materials and tectonic structures and techniques.

Nov. 17 Discussion of second set of readings. Readings for Thursday: Ann Hamilton, El Anatsui, Tectonics Considered

Nov. 19 Presentation of your fiber exercises due. Discussion of third set of readings. Discussion of ways of manipulating the “fibers” into a “textile.

Nov. 24 PROPOSALS AND DRAWINGS due for discussion. Be ambitious. Studio class for experimentation, cross-fertilization, testing theories. Always bring materials to class.

Nov. 26 No Class, Thanksgiving.

Dec. 1 Working studio day.

Dec. 3 In process critique and discussion of structures, tectonics, ways of supporting the textile, ways of making the textile more interesting.

Working studio day for remainder.

Dec. 8 Working studio day.

Dec. 10 Working studio day.

Dec. 15 3:00 pm Final Project Due. CRITIQUE OF TEXTILE TECTONICS.

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