In 2017, the Queensland College of Art (Griffith) launched a new common Studio Foundations program across its Fine Art, Photography and Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art degrees. The initial premise was simple—transform sixteen courses and dozens of classes, previously regimented through strict disciplinary cloisters, into one or two coherent and dynamic courses that could reassert the value of the Foundations experience and better serve the mission of educating art students. This reformed first-year initiative was designed to have significant impacts on a host of issues in tertiary studio art education including: course loading, student experience, retention, staffing, space allocation, curricular alignment, graduate attributes, program learning outcomes and program flexibility. This paper will use the QCA model as a catalyst to examine teaching, learning and administration in the Foundations space.
Boris Groys (2009) and James Elkins (2001) have both deployed Kazimir Malevich’s metaphor of ‘infection’ to frame critiques and revisions of Foundations teaching. The QCA Studio Foundations model extends the ‘infection’ metaphor into a motivated curricular plan that seeds the infection with ‘exposure’ and expresses through ‘confection’. The brief work of Elkins and Groys, channeled through Malevich and QCA’s Studio Foundations, will inform an argument for a Foundations model that reaches beyond Bauhaus and Post-War frameworks while maintaining strong emphases on the roles and responsibilities of contemporary art students. A detailed review and analysis of the Studio Foundations model’s value, including its institutional obstacles and pedagogical potentials, will assist in mitigating the under-examination of the first-year experience and its outcomes.