[CUSAI 2020] Drawing at Home: Material Exploration, Observation and Contemporary Practice

This class was intended to help bridge the remote divide by introducing students to a variety of tactile materials used in drawing. The experience of drawing remotely was challenging but provided us with some beautiful new discoveries. 

Of course, we drew each other in many different media, peering over Zoom and trying to draw from life even though we were separated. We also found and built still lives from objects in our home. We replaced figure drawing by drawing from dance videos. This gave us the opportunity to talk about contemporary dance created in response to current issues and make cross media connections. The online nature of the class allowed us to share many more links and learn how artists and institutions are using social media to come together during the pandemic. 

One great advantage of the Zoom classroom was that we were able to visit with 3 artists, traveling directly to Portia Munson’s studio and quite literally to her drawing desk to see work in progress. We visited with Dan Herschlien at his gallery and saw his work as it was being installed and did a deep dive into how he conceptualizes his imagery. We also visited with Danica Phelps, who described her drawing process in detail in a conversation tailored to young drawing students. 

It turns out that a 4 hour zoom class was not enough time to cover everything that was planned! In the end students were introduced to erasure and revision using charcoal and graphite, as well as using light and dark materials to create chiaroscuro. We used ink with brush and homemade tools and learned how to make simple collagraphs and transfer drawings.   

I’m so proud of this group of students who had to step up and take charge of their learning in new ways. I hope this class has given them inspiration to continue to create on their own as we move forward through this exceptional time. 

Anne-Marie McIntyre, Instructor

(Artwork is listed in alphabetical order by students last name)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.