Visual Journalism Introduction

November 1, 2004



Ken Krafchek, Instructor
(in association with “Cities in the 90s,” Kathleen O’Toole, Instructor)

Art exists as a mediating force an intermediary between groups imbued with the power to convey messages and effect change. Within the confines of a larger community, art may support the status quo or provoke new ways of thinking. Consequently, only the truly informed artist one who is familiar with all facets of a given issue and the society within which it is born is capable of producing great art.

Taught in conjunction with “Cities in the 90s, this course looks at the City of Baltimore – its history and its times – in an attempt to better define the concept and reality of “community.” To this end, we will investigate the “unseen” social, cultural, political, economic, and religious factors that define the city’s existence, including: Place – the organization and use of public and private space, Work the changing economies of cities, Mediators the role of key institutions, such as schools and churches, and Race – politics and the dynamics of change. Ultimately, the student should develop a more insightful understanding of his or her own world, the world of “the other”, and the concept of community.

Students will be expected to
…explore a variety of mediums and processes,
…create a body of advanced work based on investigations conducted within the
…community, and
…demonstrate advanced narrative skills.

In demonstrating narrative skills, the ability to realize the meaning and significance of a specific environment (people, place, time and event) is dependent upon the student’s ability to:

1. “See” with a keen, unbiased eye to inquire and gain knowledge or awareness by visual means. Therefore, each student is expected to:

a. build a foundation of photographic reference and sketches upon which all final artwork will be based,

b. utilize fine, representational drawing concepts and skills, and

c. hone a variety of advanced narrative and conceptual skills.

2. Realize the intangible that which cannot be “seen.” This pursuit includes an in depth exploration of those factors that define a community, including social, cultural, political and religious factors. Each student is expected to compile a comprehensive collection of oral, written and visual information essential to his or her own understanding of a particular subject or theme.

3. Formulate certain conclusions based on the student’s investigations and articulate their significance to others. Each student is expected to:

a. demonstrate a real understanding of complex actions and interactions,

b. formulate opinions based on a declared set of judgments and personal beliefs, and

c. document those opinions (visually, orally and/or in written form) in a manner clearly understandable to a specific audience.


1. Students will execute seven final illustrations due at an announced date. Three of these illustrations must be tied to one major 3 to 4 page paper. Students will present essays in class along with their artwork. Students are asked to keep an updated notebook containing all of their essays and papers written for “Cities in the 90s.” These writings account for 10% of the student’s final “Visual Journalism” grade.

2. Students will each participate in a three to four week service learning project working with children and youth in local Baltimore schools and communities.

3. Students are expected to keep a photographic diary and sketchbooks documenting their travels through the city. These images will be used as reference for artwork illustrating some aspect of Baltimore life.

4. Students will complete in class and out of class exercises that investigate the form and function of art making strategies and their relationship to ideas, concepts, and each student’s value system.

5. Student will meet with the studio instructor, one on one or in small groups, every three or four weeks to discuss the assigned work and readings.

6. Student evaluations are based on process portfolios the body of work preceding but not excluding an end product. Through this process each student should demonstrate a real commitment to personal growth including a more comprehensive understanding of his or her own self, artistic vision and the world; advanced critical thinking and problem solving skills; risk taking or willingness and ability to set aside preconditioned ways of thinking and thereby explore new ways of seeing and interacting with the world.

7. In class participation is mandatory. Students are advised that they alone are responsible for documenting the quantity and quality of the assigned work and readings. Final grades will be based on quality of effort, depth of thought, and willingness to share ideas with the class visually, orally and/or in writing.

The instructor’s email is My home phone number is (703) 553-0469. Please call before 9:00 p.m.

School: Maryland Institute College of Art
Professor: Ken Krafcheck
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