Tag Archive | faculty

Playing games for the grade

Students in “The Idea of Design” are playing games for their grades. The Design(er) METAgame was designed by Professor Cary Staples to help students search for the right question, rather than collect the right answer. The game took two years to evolve to the point in which it is now used regularly in her design survey class. “When I put myself in the students shoes, I understood that they were trying to meet my expectations. They wanted to know what I, as the teacher, wanted from them. My frustration was that I needed them to ask their own questions. To develop their own database of references that they would need as a resource as they progressed through the sequence of design classes. They needed to develop an ongoing strategy to make connections, not just remember the connections that I made. I realized I had to create a framework to allow them to play.” A framework that Professor Staples has presented at several national conferences this year: DiGRA, Digital Games Research Association; at GLS 9.0, Games + Learning + Society; at AIGA, The American Association of Graphic Artists National Conference and the upcoming CAA, College Arts Association, conference in February.


The initial idea came from a workshop offered by the University of Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center, where the methods of a “flipped” classroom—where lectures are given outside of class through video and class time becomes a hands-on experience—were first introduced to Professor Staples. Later that year she attended a gaming conference and was introduced to the concept of a “META game;” a card game about video games designed to facilitate interaction in large groups developed by Colleen Macklin, John Sharp and Eric Zimmerman of Local No. 12 in NYC. This served as inspiration for the first version of the Design(er) METAgame which was formed and first played over the Summer of 2012. “The students who played the game appeared to be more prepared for upper division work in the design sequence, so the game continued, with modifications into the Spring semester class as well.”


The game provides a clear structure from which students can experiment. To play the game, students are first given all of the questions at the beginning of the semester. Questions contain elements of concept development, composition strategies and use of materials to enhance meaning. The students are then asked to consider the questions throughout the term as they explore required readings, both historical and contemporary. Instead of writing responses to the questions, students collect examples of images that they feel they can use to illustrate their responses to questions when they are posed in a debate. The questions remain constant, the fundamental nature of the problems and concepts used to solve them can be identified and allow students to trace strategies across time.


One of the new aspects of the game that has developed to accommodate the larger enrollment of the spring semester class, is the introduction of a tournament. Ader competing all of the readings, players “battle” to move forward in a single elimination style tournament. However, instead of the non-winning player being ejected, s/he becomes a consultant and his/her cards becoming part of the combined teams database. All players and cards may be consulted as the “champion” progresses in the tournament. One aspect of the game that is always part of the discussion is how the judging works. Everyone in class takes a turn being the judge and all participants must agree as to whether the best example wins the match, or the best argument or defense wins the match. Frequently students will find themselves faced with a question to which they have not planned an obvious response. Students work together to resolve how these situations will be evaluated.

According to Staples, “We are attempting to create an environment that fosters ‘Gracious Professionalism,’ a term coined by Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” Per Professor Flowers, Gracious Professionalism “is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.”


Reflection is an important aspect of the individual game experience. Students record all bouts or rounds of the game in a process book. In addition, they are asked to notate cards they wish they had made from the readings ader playing the game as well as questions they would like to add to the “Q deck” or deck of questions cards. Since the first game was played in the Summer of 2012, the game has evolved and grown each year. Feedback from the class has been integral in advancing the content and helps Professor Staples see the value of such an activity being used in the classroom. Student comments have been overwhelmingly favorable and range from ones specific to students seeking a design degree:

“It has trained me to think my problems through more like a designer. This isn’t homework, it’s training and molding, shaping really.”

“I gained a lot of knowledge about many designers. It helped me look for influences among designers. It helped all of us to be able to discuss designs formally, which is important for all future art classes.”

to those reflective of students outside of the fields of Art:

“It is really a creative game. The game not only helped to have fun and interact with classmates, the game actually motivates you to learn about the past decades. It is a great resource to get your inspiration from.

“The game also helped to build your communication skills. It is challenging both as visually and conceptually. It is quick which helps to make the argument better and holds interest because you don’t know what kind of question they are going to ask. It is a fun & very intellectual game. I had fun!!”

The course in which the game is played, ARTD 150: The Idea of Design, is currently offered in Spring and Summer semesters and will be offered as an on-line course this summer. The course has been approved to meet the Gen. Ed. requirement for “Broadening Deeper Perspectives” in the Arts + Humanities category and Professor Staples emphasizes that the class is not just meant for design or art students. Asked to relate design as a valuable discipline, she offers up the words of curator Paola Antonelli “Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.”


Happy Holidays!

Festive Holiday Greetings from Graduate Students and Faculty from the UT Knoxville School of Art Printmaking Program!

Two UT Knoxville School of Art Alumni Receive Awards

secacVirginia Derryberry (MFA 1984) and Scott Betz (MFA 1992) were recognized at the 2013 Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC) held in Greensboro, North Carolina. Derryberry, who is a Professor of Art and Department Chair at the University of North Carolina Asheville, received the SECAC Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement. Betz, who is a Professor of Art at Winston Salem State University, received the SECAC Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The 2013 Southeastern College Art Conference was held October 30-November 2 included presentations by School of Art faculty members, Joshua Bienko, Tim Hiles, Beauvais Lyons, Norman Magden and John Powers and Printmaking technician Jessie Van der Laan. Graduate students presenting papers included Raluca Iancu and Jennifer Scheuer, both in Printmaking.

SECAC is a non-profit organization that promotes the study and practice of the visual arts in higher education on a national basis.

Atlanta Print Biennial

Beauvais Lyons, Chancellor’s Professor in the School of Art has been selected to be the juror for the second Atlanta Print Biennial, an international exhibition of works on paper co-presented by the Barbara Archer Gallery and Erikson Clock.

Sally Brogden awarded faculty development leave

Sally Brogden, Professor of Art, ceramics, has been awarded a Faculty Development Leave for the fall 2013 term and she has several professional activities scheduled during this leave. Sally will spend a month working as an artist in residence at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China. Her work will be featured in the exhibition “China Kaolin Grand Prix” to be held in October at Great China Museum, Jingdezhen and Organized by the Chinese National Academy of Arts and the Department of Culture. Before returning to Knoxville, Sally will deliver a talk at the 7th Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale in Incheon, South Korea.

Emily Bivens interviewed by the Visual Artists Network

van2012School of Art 4D professor, Emily Bivens (also part ofThe Bridge Club), was interviewed by the Visual Artists Network, along with artist Steve Lambert (Beacon, NY). The interview included a phone conversation between Emily and Steve, in which they discussed their work and careers. The Bridge Club was awarded an Idea Fund Grant, through the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, for their project, The Trailer.

To read the whole interview, click here or click the image in the top-left corner of this article.

The School of Art gains two faculty members


Mr. Paul Harrill joins the faculty of the School of Art as Associate Professor of 4D and Transmedia Design. Mr. Harrill, a UT alumnus with a B.A. in College Scholars, received his M.F.A. in Film & Media Arts at Temple University prior to becoming a member of the faculty at Virginia Tech. Paul Harrill’s short films include Gina, An Actress, Age 29, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking, and Quick Feet, Soft Hands, a co-production with the Independent Television Service.

Called “one of America’s finest and most sensitive directors of actors” by film critic Ray Carney, Harrill’s films have screened around the world at festivals (Rotterdam, Clermont-Ferrand, Los Angeles, Sydney, Nashville), museums (the Museum of Modern Art, ICA London, Warsaw Centre for Contemporary Art), and on television. His work has been supported by the Aperture Film Grant, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  Harrill has also been named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine.

Professor Harrill is teaching ARTC 235 Introduction to Digital Media: 16mm as Art and ARTC 239/439 Narrative Filmmaking this fall.  These courses are also cross-listed in Cinema Studies.

For more about Professor Harrill, be sure to visit his website, Selfreliant Film at http://www.selfreliantfilm.com/ .



Mr. John Powers joins the faculty of the School of Art as Assistant Professor of 3D. Mr. Powers completed his B.A. in Art History at Vanderbilt University and his M.F.A. in Sculpture at the University of Georgia. In 2008 he joined the faculty in Art at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. John Powers is the recipient of a prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant, a Joan Mitchell Residency in New Orleans, as well as a Southeast College Art Conference Individual Artist Fellowship, and the 2001 Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award.

In May 2013 he was awarded First Place in the annual Virginia Groot Foundation Grant Program, an award of $35,000 in support of his work.  John describes his work as an investigation of how things work that involves sound and movement and in the end reflects life processes with all their tensions and contradictions.

Professor Powers is teaching ARTB 241 Beginning Sculpture and the graduate courses in 3D this fall.

For more about Professor Powers, be sure to visit his website at http://www.john-powers.com/ .


Workhouse Clay National exhibition

Hannah Short, MFA in Ceramics 2013; Kevin Kao, MFA Candidate in Ceramics; and Sally Brogden, Professor of Art have work on exhibit at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton Virginia. The Workhouse Clay National exhibition is one of the leading annual ceramics exhibitions in the US, and Hannah Short was awarded an honorable mention for her work, “Byproduct”.

Left to right: “Byproduct” by Hannah Short (2013), “Trisect II” by Kevin Kao (2013), Untitled by Sally Brogden (2012).

Spotlight: Painting + Drawing

Painting students during the week of May 13 in NYC with Professors Jered Sprecher and Karla Wozniak. They are visiting the Peter Haley show at the Mary Boone Gallery.

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