Fine Arts


The Misericordia University Fine Arts program is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the arts in both Western and non-Western cultures. Our students experience the arts from historical and contemporary perspectives through course work, research, gallery exhibits, and performances.

Course Descriptions

FA 102 Cultural Synthesis in the Ancient World, 3 credits

This course explores ways in which contemporary culture is influenced by the images, architecture, music, and theater of the ancient world. Cultural artifacts are examined to discover not only their individually distinct style norms and meanings, but also how their styles and meaning change as cultures collide, interact, accommodate, and assimilate in the ancient world.

FA 103 Fundamentals of Drawing and Composition, 3 credits

Fundamentals of Drawing & Composition is an introductory studio drawing course with emphasis on learning to see and developing basic drawing skills using various media by employing fundamental design and composition concepts. In addition to technical skills, an exploration of creative thinking, problem solving, and critical analysis will be studied. During the semester, students will explore different drawing techniques and media. Students will be encouraged to develop an expression of individual style.

FA 104 Art, Self, and Community in the Modern World, 3 credits

This course explores the development of modern society from its roots in the 16th-century Renaissance through the lens of artistic expression. Important works from the visual and performing arts will be studied and placed into historical context in order to understand both their meaning as individual works of art and their expression of societal values and philosophies.

FA 124 Fundamentals of Painting, 3 credits

This introductory studio course focuses on the basic techniques and materials of painting, employing a wide range of painting media and subject matter. Topics include basic color theory, materials, development of both representational and abstract approaches, and strategies for intuitive, individual response to subject matter and materials in directed assignments.

FA 133 Fine Art Photography, 3 credits

This course provides an introduction to the theory and application of photography as a fine art. Basic digital photographic skills and techniques are emphasized. Primary emphasis on the place of photography in art history, current art theory, and issues in photographic representation. This course requires the use of a laptop computer and appropriate software.

Pre- or Co-requisite: FA 103 or FA 124

FA 152 Ceramics I, 3 credits

The intent of this course is to gain understanding and to recognize and appreciate the nature of clay and the processes used in working with the medium. The course will concentrate on the basic techniques of creating forms in clay through hand-building and the use of the wheel. Techniques of pinching, molding and slab will be employed to create a variety of projects. Students are expected to bring a sense of creativity and a level of enthusiasm that will compliment the technical skills that will be learned, and are required to use patience and an innate sense of design to produce objects that are sophisticated, neat, well thought and creative.
Pre- or Co-requisite: FA 103 or FA 124

FA 158 Sculpture I, 3 credits

This course is an introduction to sculptural approaches in a variety of media including the traditional and experimental. The aim of this course is to enable students to explore sculptural processes through the body and space, considering visual aesthetics. Students will be required to produce a new body of work and to talk and write about it. Emphasis will be on the integration of studio practice and critical thought.

FA 190 Printmaking, 3 credits

Students will learn techniques of fine art printmaking, e.g. relief printing, monotype, intaglio, collagraph and collage. This course covers the distinctive nature of printmaking including: tools, inks, paper, plate preparation, registration, printing processes and qualities of prints e.g overlays, transparency, offset, and multiple images. The goal is for students to gain the skills and confidence to produce multiple images by hand printing and on a press while exploring personal visual expression. Hand printmaking techniques will engage the student with problem solving in drawing, design and color. Topics may include editions, suites and designation systems. Class sessions will comprise independent and collaborative printing and, lecture, demonstrations, discussion, and critique. Students will be introduced to the work of artists and the history/tradition of fine art prints.

FA 203 Subjects and Symbols, 3 credits

The arts are filled with obscure ideas, symbols and metaphors that can often be very difficult for the non-initiated to access or understand. This course will explore what is essentially the psychology of art itself, through the use of symbolism, metaphor and archetypes. Through the basic study of signs, or semiotics, students will develop an understanding of the meaning artists, and society, impart to the works themselves.

FA 204 Beauty and Ugliness, 3 credits

What is art? Why is some art considered beautiful? Or ugly? What are the criteria for judging art? This course will explore, and attempt to answer, these questions through the theories that define the arts, with close examination of specific works from both Western and non-Western cultures, from the ancient to contemporary eras.

FA 207 World Music, 3 credits

This course focuses on the critical role of music in indigenous societies and its permeation into the mainstream. It will also study the varying functions of music within those societies and the intersection of tradition with innovation. Other areas of inquiry for the class include: how does music participate in identity politics? How does music serve as a social force across the globe? How does music connect our lives, our communities and the world in which we live? Special emphasis will be placed on the role of emerging technologies in globalization.

FA 208 Pop Music: Diversity and Identity, 3 credits

This course is designed to encourage students to think critically about popular music, as well as its social and historical meanings and contexts in relation to issues of identity. While the focus of the class is primarily on American popular music of the last century, European and non-Western forms will also be explored, with particular attention to: the role of pop music as a symbol of identity (i.e., race, class, gender, generational issues, ethnicity); the interaction of Colonial and Postcolonial traditions (European, African, Asian, and Native American traditions); and the influence of multimedia and technology (radio, video, internet).

FA 209 Themes in Art, 3 credits

This course is focused on diverse art historical traditions, not limited by interdisciplinary scope. Topics will include, but are not limited to: death; literature; medicine; magic and alchemy; opera; design; fashion; religion; technology. It is designed to complement an instructor's specialized area of research and/or academic publication.

FA 211 Global Contemporary Art, 3 credits

This course will introduce the difficulty globalization poses to canonical contemporary art from the 1970s to the present day, drawing attention to problems involved in defining what the term "contemporary art" actually means, and the makers of such art. The question of individual and collective identity as exemplified in the visual arts will be explored through thematic lectures on diaspora, race, sexuality, medical infirmities, and psychological states using Postcolonial discourse by Homi K. Bhabha, Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, and Gayatari Spivak, among others.

FA 213 Themes in Medical Humanities, 3 credits

Medical Humanities is an interdisciplinary field that attempts to explore, and provide insight into: the human condition, personal identity, ethical and moral responsibilities, as well as individual and collective rights related to personhood. This will be observed, analyzed and applied through the specific lens of the Fine Arts, and how the various disciplines within it are synthesized with medicine and healthcare.

FA 320 Art History Survey I, 3 credits

A survey of the origins and movements that comprise the entirety of Western and non-Western art from the Paleolithic Era to the late 15th century Italian Renaissance. Emphasis will be on: cultural/technical influences of art production; analysis of movements, styles and works; comprehension of relevant theories; as well as basic identification of civilizations, eras, and movements.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 321 Art History Survey II, 3 credits

A survey of the origins and movements that comprise the entirety of Western and non-Western art from 16th century High Renaissance to dawn of 20th century Modern Art. Emphasis will be on: cultural/technical influences of art production; analysis of movements, styles and works; comprehension of relevant theories; connoisseurship (identification) of stylistic characteristics of the individual artists and their associated movements.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 322 Art of Ancient Egypt, 3 credits

This class will introduce students to the artistic, architectural and cultural production of Ancient Egypt, from the Neolithic through the Roman periods. Through the study Egyptian Art and Architecture, students will become acquainted with the issues and methods of the study of art history, with a particular emphasis on the importance of historical and archeological context. Objects in, and visits to, New York City museums will be an integral part of this course.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 323 Art of Classical Antiquity, 3 credits

The different units of this course reflect the main chronological stages in art development in Ancient Greece and Rome, from the coming together of the Greek city-state and the emergence of Geometric Art (around 900 B.C.) to the fourth century A.D. shift that took place within Roman culture and art due to the growing influence of Christianity. We will explore the development of Greek architecture, sculpture, and painting up to the Hellenistic period, when Greek art began to influence new parts of the globe through the conquests of Alexander the Great. We will then turn our attention to Roman art, studying its development from the time of the Roman Republic, a period that overlaps with Greece’s Classical and Hellenistic periods, to the waning of the Western Roman Empire. You will learn that while Roman art was, to a large extent, inspired by Greek art, it also developed its own distinctive characteristics. The artistic traditions of Ancient Greece and Rome ultimately served as the foundation for the art of the Western world; these traditions continue to reverberate to the present day.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 324 Early Christian & Medieval Art, 3 credits

This course will examine human cultural production between the years 250 and 1300. Beginning in the last centuries of the Roman Empire, and continuing through the luminous art of the "dark ages," the topics of study will conclude with the towering monuments of the French Gothic style. Particular attention will be given to works of architecture and engineering, and class discussion will explore themes of social as well as political history.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 325 Northern Renaissance Art, 3 credits

The course surveys painting and the graphic arts in the Netherlands, Germany, and France c. 1350-1550. This comprises a broad range of material, including art produced for various courts, churches, civic bodies, and private patrons among the growing middle classes in the cities of Western Europe. Rather than presuming a "Northern" style defined in contrast to the art of the Italian Renaissance, we will aim to understand regional and individual tendencies on their own terms. Works will be examined in light of the many circumstances of artistic production in the period, with attention to changing issues of function, iconography, patronage, the market, and the rapidly expanding traffic of artistic ideas.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 326 Italian Renaissance Art, 3 credits

In art, the Italian Renaissance broke away from the abstract formalism characteristic of the Medieval styles of European art, and sought to imitate nature, spurred on by the example of Classical art. Renaissance Italy produced some of the greatest artists in world history: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello are only a few of the names that still hold magic today. This course will examine the development of Italian art and architecture from ca. 1250 to ca. 1550, focusing on the major developments in this period as well as art as an expression of Renaissance values.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 327 Baroque & Rococo Art, 3 credits

This course comprises three components: Southern Baroque, Northern Baroque, and Rococo, and investigates painting, sculpture, and architecture in Italy and Spain during the 17th century, stressing the theatrical, ecstatic, and virtuoso character of works produced for royalty, the Church, and the rising middle class by such masters as Caravaggio, Bernini, and Velazquez. An examination of the Golden Age of painting, sculpture, and architecture in France, England, and the Netherlands, showing how such figures as Rembrandt and Vermeer encoded meaning in works of detailed realism and contributed to the rise of new subjects in art, including still life, landscape, and portraiture. A study of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced in Western Europe prior to and during the Enlightenment, with emphasis on the luxurious, sensual art of the Rococo, the rational classicism of Palladianism.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 328 19th Century Art, 3 credits

A comprehensive and critical look at pervasive themes of 19th century art in both Europe and America. This course aims not to be a traditional survey of the 19th century, breaking artists and paintings down by movement, but rather a holistic approach that considers common trends, or motifs, that artists of different gender, nationality, race, and sexuality, incorporate into their art, regardless of historical period.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 329 Latin American Art, 3 credits

A survey of the civilizations that flourished in Latin American from the Pre-Colombian era, through the Spanish Conquest, to contemporary art. Emphasis will be on the development of early civilizations, their transformation and mutation, into hybrid postcolonial nations.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 330 American Art, 3 credits

This course surveys art of America from the Colonial era through the Beaux-Arts Style of the late 19th Century. We will consider broad stylistic tendencies in various regions and periods and examine specific artists and works of art in historical and social contexts, with emphasis on the congruent evolution of contemporary American multi-cultural identity. We will move chronologically, more or less, with many overlaps and cross-chronological, thematic diversions that will help shape this overview and offer different perspectives on the notion of an “American art,” per se. Overarching issues that have interested major scholars of American art and its purview include the landscape (wilderness, Manifest Destiny, rural settlement, and urban development); the family and gender roles; the founding rhetoric of freedom and antebellum slavery; and notions of artistic modernism through the dawn of the 20th century.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 331 Modern Art, 3 credits

What is “modern art” exactly? When did it begin? Who is the first “modern artist”? Is there such a thing? Modern art’s origins are as dubious as its reputation amongst the general population. Many works regarded as masterpieces by those in the marketplace (i.e., Christie’s, Sotheby’s, etc.), are considered to be a hoax or joke at best, or not art at all at worst. This course will address these difficulties and try to determine when the modern era in art history began, and when exactly it ended. Class discussion and personal opinion are extremely relevant to this course, in order to evaluate the artists, their works, navigate the art market, and define what truly constitutes a work of art in the modern era.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 332 History of Graphic Design, 3 credits

A survey of the origins that comprise the entirety of Western and non-Western graphic design from the prehistoric era to the Digital Age of the 21st century. Emphasis will be on the development of writing, printing methods and materials, analysis of styles, comprehension of relevant terms and techniques.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 333 History of 20th Century Fashion, 3 credits

A survey of the 20th century’s fashion highlights, each week focusing on a particular designer beginning with Paul Poiret in 1903 to the late Alexander McQueen. The interlacings of fashion with the fine, decorative and media arts will be another area of exploration, including the impact of the popular ‘Project Runway’. This course is not limited to Western fashion, but will also examine the global influence of major Asian designers. Additionally, there will be a trip to the New York City Garment District, and designer boutiques, to discuss fashion marketing in situ.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 335 Special Topics in Art History, 3 credits

Topics vary from semester to semester and will be announced with pre-registration information.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 342 Intermediate Painting, 3 credits

This course explores both traditional and nontraditional concepts and techniques of painting and the development of style. Topics may include color theory, two-dimensional design, and the nature of representation.
Prerequisite: FA 124

FA 352 Ceramics II, 3 credits

The principles of ceramic materials, techniques, and design within a problem solving environment. Specific aesthetic and technical criteria will be examined and individual development will be emphasized. Health and safety concerns are stressed. Students will broaden their knowledge, skills and sensibilities in working with the ceramic medium. The course will introduce the second semester student to the various advanced techniques and concepts of using clay for creative expression. The student is expected to further develop their skills in various advanced forming methods. Increase their sensitivity to the materials, to aesthetic design, and to further develop individual and imaginative use of the materials.
Prerequisite: FA 152

FA 358 Sculpture II, 3 credits

This course builds upon fundamentals learned in Sculpture I with an emphasis on materials and site selection, scale, and individual expression.

Prerequisite: FA 158

FA 360 Music & the Crisis of Modernism, 3 credits

What is modernity? How did it affect the arts and science, forming new cohesions between the disciplines? What aspects of modernity are uniquely Western in their appeal; which are universal? This course is intended as an interdisciplinary exploration of the modernist crisis with a special emphasis on Viennese culture during the period 1880–1914. The topical survey will explore how the leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that forever changed how we think about the human mind. Our final stop will be the idea of globalization as we examine how our shifting worldviews have spawned new crises in meaning, the arts, and society.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 361 Music & the Mind, 3 credits

This course explores the cognitive foundations of music through the intersection of psychology and music. We will examine the full range of physical, psychophysical, and cognitive mechanisms that lead to musical experience.This survey begins with the physics of musical instruments and the physical qualities of musical pitch. Key topics include: the psychophysics of hearing; perceptual organization; memory; and biological responses to music. Finally, we examine the structures in working memory that allow individual pitch events to be organized into musical expressions. Along the way, we will look at the general principles that govern the structure of music and the ways in which music psychology influences our health and society.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 362 Music, Ecology & the Environment, 3 credits

The theory of evolution as adaptation can't explain why nature is so beautiful. It took the concept of sexual selection for Darwin to explain that a process has more to do with aesthetics than with the practical. Through an interdisciplinary lens, we will examine the “survival of the beautiful” as the interplay of beauty, art, and culture in evolution. Taking inspiration from Darwin's observation that animals have a natural aesthetic sense, this course will investigate why animals (humans included) have innate appreciation for beauty-and why nature is, indeed, beautiful. Moreover, we will study the ecology of humans, their response to the environment, and the way in which art mediates our experiences in society.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 363 Sacred Sounds: Music & Religion, 3 credits

This course provides a basic framework for understanding the development of the vast treasury of psalms, hymns, canticles, spiritual songs, and other sacred music within the Christian tradition. Through primary readings and listening activities, we will address the nature of church music from both a historical and theological context. In addition, non-Western traditions will be examined alongside variable definitions of spirituality in practice. The course will conclude by exploring shifting boundaries between sacred and secular in popular culture.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 364 Music, Philosophy & Meaning, 3 credits

This class surveys various answers to two broad and deceptively simple questions: What is music?, and Why does it matter? Both questions have spawned a significant discussions and a variety of answers. In this class, we will examine some of these answers with an eye towards helping students develop thoughtful views of their own as to the nature of music and its cultural value. These questions will be addressed with respect to a variety of musical styles, from “classical” music to jazz, pop and rock. No formal background in music or philosophy is required.
Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 365 Special Topics in Music & Culture, 3 credits

Topics vary from semester to semester and will be announced with pre-registration information.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 366 Collegium Musicum, 3 credits

This course combines theory and practice with an active approach to early music. Through group performance and guided study, students will be immersed in music and culture of the Medieval, Renaissance and Early Baroque periods. The class meets each semester and performs throughout the academic year. Students may repeat the course in subsequent semesters, but the class may only be taken once to satisfy requirements for the Music and Culture Minor.

Prerequisite: FA 203 or FA 204

FA 373 Intermediate Drawing, 3 credits

An intermediate level course that expands upon skills learned in Fundamentals of Drawing & Composition (FA 103) and other introductory art courses. Specialized drawing techniques in dry and wet media will be introduced as well as contemporary, experimental, and conceptual approaches and issues.

Prerequisite: FA 103

FA 374 Anatomical Drawing, 3 credits

Students will learn to master the shapes and lines of the body, including muscles and bone structure. Movement, shape, speed line and mass will be reviewed and incorporated into the work in an attempt to redefine the human body as a much-needed subject of art making. Students will be required to participate actively in conceptualization and aesthetic critiques as well as discussions on technical issues. The class intends to create in the students a mature aesthetic vocabulary. Readings and other resources of study will be distributed, which will help foster a critical mind as well as a resource of intellectual, art making.
Prerequisite: FA 103

FA 380 Jewelry Design I, 3 credits

This course offers a progressive, hands-on introduction to the fundamental technical, conceptual, and aesthetic issues of jewelry and metalsmithing. Through a series of explorational assignments and technical exercises, students will be introduced to a broad range of processes, progressing from the simpler to the more complex. This class is highly structured with demonstrations and instruction each class time.

Prerequisite: FA 152 or FA 158

FA 381 Introduction to Textile Design, 3 credits

This course is an introduction to textiles that provides a broad view of the development, production and utilization of fabrics and the impact they have on design and construction. The characteristics of different fibers, yarns, fabrics, and finishes are investigated.
Prerequisite: FA 103 or FA 124

FA 403 Advanced Drawing, 3 credits

This course will focus on expanded definitions and practices of marking space, and aims to introduce, contextualize and explore a wide variety of drawing methods including the more traditional practice of “dragging a tool across a receptive background, usually a piece of paper”, as well as spatially focused practices, such as such as marking the landscape, as well as process-oriented methods that document the artist’s action and the passage of time.

Prerequisite: FA 373 or FA 374

FA 410 Jewelry Design II, 3 credits

This course aims to advance the building skills acquired in FA 380 (Jewelry Design I), and surveys a variety of casting and forming processes. The emphasis is on form and textural development. Integration of elements with other forms and processes is stressed. Technical information is introduced to increase the artistic range of the materials and techniques previously covered in Jewelry I, and will examine the interdependence of medium and image.

Prerequisite: FA 380

FA 441 Advanced Painting, 3 credits

This course is the capstone of the painting track within the Studio Arts. Assignments are comprised of projects intended to bring out individual tendencies and potential combined with continued work from life in both the oil and more difficult watercolor mediums.
Prerequisite: FA 342

FA 452 Ceramics III, 3 credits

Advanced study of ceramic techniques with emphasis on surface, various firing skills, ceramic history, and design.
Prerequisite: FA 352

FA 480 Independent Study, 1-3 credits

Special investigation of a selected topic.

FA 604 Chamber Singers, 1 credit

A student-only chorus specializing in the performance of music appropriate for a small ensemble, including a cappella vocal chamber music and jazz harmonies. Some travel for off-campus performances is likely. May be repeated for credit; up to 3 credit hours can be accumulated toward graduation.

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