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Global Positioning Studies

Global Positioning Studies (GPS) is an interdisciplinary visual art and design initiative that positions students at the crossroads between a local sense of place and a global understanding of that place in the world. Through direct experience, Global Positioning Studies courses encourage students to engage the world as a fertile ground for art making and critical research.


The School of Art & Design weaves community and environmentally driven components into much of their programming – including core-curriculum courses, School-wide projects, initiatives and visiting lectures.


Art and Environment
Art & Environment

Art and Environment is a multidisciplinary graduate and upper-level undergraduate studio/seminar course. It is designed to increase awareness for the interactivity of studio artists and the environment. We will be examining the natural world as media, catalyst and content. Students will meet once a week as a group to address the seminar and field component of the course. The other scheduled class sessions will be dedicated to studio work. The course will include readings, presentations, field trips and art making with accompanying critiques.

Art & Environment: Coastal Maine

Art and Environment: COASTAL MAINE is a four-week, indoor/outdoor field course for artists(undergraduate students, graduate students, and non-traditional students) offered with the generous support of the Robert M. MacNamara Foundation. The focus of the course will be to study and discuss the notion of place as it pertains to the unique microenvironment of Coastal Maine. We will do this by engaging water, natural resources and recreational adventure as means to explore the larger environmental and cultural issues that form and shape the area.

Spam at Beach Art & Environment: Hawaii

Art & Environment: Hawaii is a semester long, outdoor field course for artists. The focus of the course will be to study and discuss the notion of place as it pertains to the to the unique microenvironment of the Hawaiian Islands. We will do this by engaging water, natural resources and recreational adventure as means to explore the larger environmental and cultural issues that form and shape the area. Through exposure to sites and with the expertise presented by various guests, we will examine what it means to be influenced by geography and explore how that influences our artwork.

19th Century Painting and Photography in France

This spring-break study abroad art history course examines a variety of geographical locations and types of landscapes, artistic schools and a wide selection of artists, through both the media of painting and photography. The course will provide students an in-depth understanding of how place was foundational in the transformation of landscape art during the nineteenth century in Paris, its suburbs, and the nearby countryside where artist colonies and communities flourished.

Ceramics in China

The WVU Ceramics Area has offered a comprehensive summer study program at Jingdezhen since 1995, and in 2004, it expanded the partnership to include a fall semester program that provides advanced undergraduate, graduate and professional-level studies in ceramics, including basic language, culture and Chinese ceramic art history. Participants explore the historic connections of western ceramics to its roots in China and the preservation of ancient process and techniques. Students have the opportunity to study with some of China’s most prominent teachers and ceramic artists.

Learn more about  Ceramics in China.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy, 2012 Disegno Italia

The Disegno Italia summer course provide students with the opportunity to earn six hours credit in Italian art, design and culture in a four-week course that begins at il Sillabo in San Giovanni Valdarno, located twenty minutes outside of Florence in the Tuscan countryside, and concludes in Milan at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA) where students absorb the professional design culture of contemporary Italy.  Learn more at the  Disegno Italia Website .

Frank Lloyd Wright Course

The Architect Frank Lloyd Wright course provides an opportunity to look closely at Wright’s life and work and place it in the context of developments in modern architecture. Students will consider how each of his designs responds to the particular location and function for which it was built. His iconic structures—from the early Prairie Houses, to Fallingwater, to the Guggenheim Museum—can only be understood in relation to their response to place. Students will pursue a semester-long research project taking advantage of the easy proximity of Wright’s masterwork, the Kaufmann House (Fallingwater), and his late Usonian design, the Hagan House (Kentuck Knob). The direct experience with these specific buildings allows students to come to terms with Wright’s theory of organic architecture that has been so influential on today’s green designers.

Jackson Hole Jackson Hole 
Photography Workshop

West Virginia University’s Jackson Hole Photography Workshop is a 10-day intensive field course that explores the diverse and remote region of northwestern Wyoming. The workshop partners with the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts in the heart of downtown Jackson, Wyoming as its home base. Daily excursions exploring this stunning region are complemented by darkroom and digital work sessions, critiques of work in progress, gallery visits, and evening presentations. The course is limited in size to insure a close working relationship with the faculty and a significant amount of one-on-one attention. 

Learn more at the  Jackson Hole Photography Workshop Website.

Reims interior west M edieval Stained Glass in France

Medieval painted stained glass in France comprises of a research course to France to study examples of architectural stained glass windows c. 1140-1400. To participate in this trip to Paris and regional churches to see stained glass in situ and in museums and studios, students must have completed a Medieval Art period survey course. Students will take part in two pre-spring break and two post-spring break discussion meetings, participate in all activities of the study trip, engage in photography and writing on a daily basis during the eight days in France, and present their photos, observations, and analyses to the class.

Space Atacama Space: Atacama

Space: Atacama is a six credit multimedia, adventure art course that takes students into the remote and magical desert region of northern Chile to investigate themes of perception, space, multi-media and the environment. We explore these subjects through daily expeditions launched from the class base – a small cabin at the foot of the Andes Mountains, just outside the small desert town of San Pedro de Atacama. Traveling by foot, bicycle, and 4×4, equipped with camcorders, laptops, digital cameras, and GPSunits, students venture out in teams into remote regions of this fascinating and breathtaking landscape, recording and documenting their experiences. Students also learn and are exposed to Chilean as well as pre-Columbian/Andean history and culture, witnessing the largest desert folk festival in the region. After 2-day visit to Chile centuries old capitol of Santiago visiting important cultural and historical landmarks, students return to the US to complete a multimedia project that responds to their journey and newfound knowledge. This course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.  Learn more at the  Space: Atacama Website .

SpacePlace Space/Plac e, Mapping and Art

Maps are ubiquitous, apparently benign objects or digitally generated data we often take for granted, but it is precisely because they permeate society and appear so “real” and “natural” that they hold such authority and power. Maps, or geographical images, are process and product, concept and artifact, abstract and material, poetics and politics. Historically under the purview of geography, as a visual element of the spatial turn, maps and mapping techniques are currently at the nexus of interdisciplinary study, including art and art history. Students in this course will investigate the complex relationships between space and place, studying key thinkers, theories and approaches that consider its production, lived spatial practices and mobilities, contestation and overlapping meaning, and how these relate to maps and mapping. We will examine types and uses of maps and their histories, construction and digital technologies as they intersect with mapping practices, engage in critical map reading, and consider how they inform art-making.

Painting in NYC 1 Painting and NYC: Exploring the Urban Environment

The painting scene in NYC is experiencing an influx of artists who are responding directly to the urban environment and making international waves. Painters are creating 2-D painting, street art, painting-driven installation, and site-specific, in-situ painting connected to and influenced by NYC’s multifaceted environment. 

Painting in NYC 2

This course surveys a cross section of the NYC and Burrows’ painting scene, allowing students to experience, discuss, and practice current trends in painting taking place and directly connected to ‘the art centre of the world’.

Painting in China Painting in China

This six credit Painting in China summer course is designed for students to study traditional Chinese landscape painting in China. Students will be directed in discovering personal connections with traditional Chinese art and establishing relationships to their own art making practices. Students will be engaging in a working relationship with the artists and craftsmen from Nanjing and surrounding areas. The Nanjing University of the Arts faculty will lecture and demonstrate their skills and ideas, introducing the students to traditional and contemporary Chinese landscape painting. Studio time is designed to allow the students an opportunity to incorporate Chinese painting techniques, materials, and concepts into their own artistic expressions. Using paper and other flexible supports for painting will allow the students to express their feelings or intellectual concepts as direct as possible.