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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

VISA 1301: Material and Form

Note: This course is only available for registration to students residing in Canada

This studio course in art is for anyone wishing to gain an understanding and appreciation of the materials that make up our physical world and how these can be used in art and design. Each unit looks at one material: wood, metal, plastics, paper, fibre, particles, earth, stone, liquids and space. The sources, processing, available forms and developments in art and design history of each material are discussed through slides and computer animations. The on-camera students then explore the physical properties and aesthetic possibilities of materials in the studio and in external environments.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe the characteristics of common sculpting materials.
  • Describe the nature of forms and their material evolution.
  • Describe how natural and synthetic materials are made.
  • Describe hand, machine, and electronic tool sculpting processes.
  • Describe the design and manufacture of art works made with specific materials.
  • Use diverse materials constructively to explore systems and ideas.
  • Describe significant aspects of the work of selected artists, designers, and architects.
  • Analyze the balance of function and aesthetics in the making of objects.
  • Critique the balance of function and aesthetics in your own and others' work

Course topics

  • Unit 1: Wood
  • Unit 2: Metal
  • Unit 3: Plastics
  • Unit 4: Paper
  • Unit 5: Fibres
  • Unit 6: Particles
  • Unit 7: Stone
  • Unit 8: Earth
  • Unit 9: Liquid
  • Unit 10: Space

Required text and materials

Students will receive the following:

  1. Visa 1301 Postcard Booklet
  2. Visa 1301 USB Material & Form

Additional requirements

  • You will need to provide your own drawing paper and camera to provide the Notebook and photographic documentation of your work that is required in your assignments. (We recommend 20 lb., blank 8.5" by 11" paper).
  • You may want to use a binder to protect your assignment documentation and keep it in order.
  • Print, self-paced students will need access to a computer to view a USB included in the course materials.


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

Each assignment is worth 10% of your final course grade, as shown in the chart below. You will need to achieve a minimum of 50% overall on your assignments in order to pass this course. There is no final exam.

Assignment 1: Wood 10%
Assignment 2: Metal 10%
Assignment 3: Plastics 10%
Assignment 4: Paper 10%
Assignment 5: Fibres 10%
Assignment 6: Particles 10%
Assignment 7: Stone 10%
Assignment 8: Earth 10%
Assignment 9: Liquid 10%
Assignment 10: Space 10%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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