Faculty of Art Sculpture Course

Sculpture Course

Everything starts from “dialog” with materials

Sculpture is not two but three-dimensional art that creates a touchable “form.” The first step towards creating a sculpture is coming into contact with materials—wood, stone, metal, plastic, clay, glass... Understanding the history of each material as well as its characteristics, students seek out the materials that are right for them and study them thoroughly.

If you select wood carving, you start by cutting a tree in a forest. Growth rings illustrate the history of a tree, growing over a long period of time in nature. When it comes to carving stone, each type also has its peculiarities. Stone, a crystal exposed to the elements for billions of years, persistently rebounds against the chisel. To understand the essence of materials, you have to engage in dialog with them, thinking about what shapes you can make. What can you do? And why would you do that? Such dialog leads you to look deeply into your inner world.

The artwork you genuinely engage with and give form to will convey something. An artwork that is full of vitality and ideas will grab somebody’s attention. Although forms are as numerous as our ideas—from sculptures of human figures to complicated and large-scale abstract sculptures, or contemporary artworks that combine sound and video—all sculpture works with space. It aims to cause “a small change” in the space.

Thoroughly knowing materials, releasing yourself and creating liberated forms: Make the form that only you can make.

Four years in the Sculpture Course

  • 1st Year

    Where does the material come from?

    This foundational and critical year opens with classes on drawing the human form and sculpting clay. Students learn about the ability to perceive things as three-dimensional and techniques for converting these shapes into actual forms. Students then go on to engage in practical training with materials like bronze and marble. The first year allows students to come into first contact with materials, the original source of an artwork, and understand such materials more deeply.

    For example, in classes focusing on bronze, the teaching materials provided to students include bronze artworks created by a professor. He urges students to melt them down and recreate them as new pieces. “In wartime, metal is used for weapons. But then once the war is over, it is melted down to make a bell, a symbol for peace Materials therefore have different meanings and change their shape depending on the era. With this in mind, we want students to think about what they make.”

    Classes also focus on turning invisible things, such as sound and taste, into artworks. Students learn how to give form to their own unique sensibilities. While attaining foundational techniques, students explore new perspectives, knowledge, and philosophy. Their journey in pursuit of sculptural art starts from here.

    1st year
    1st Year Goals
    Obtaining techniques for “three dimensions,” and understanding the history and background of materials as more than mere “substances.”
  • 2nd Year

    Carving is reflecting “yourself”

    Based on the foundational skills acquired in the first year, in this year students engage with even more materials. In addition to wood, metal, and stone, students learn further characteristics and processing methods for materials through practical classes focusing on clay, plastics, and glass.

    In the Wooden Sculpture classes, students work with a large section of a tree. What is interesting about this process is that the growth rings and knots appear on the surface, as indications of a life that is much older than the students who are in their early twenties. You might encounter difficulties in cutting the wood in the way you intend to, because of the knots, but you also might discover unexpected textures with the growth rings—you realize both the difficulties and attractions of working with nature.

    In the Marble Carving classes, on the other hand, you will be fascinated with magical stone sound. When you hit this stone, it produces a high and clear sound like a metallophone, which makes you want to keep working with the material. According to a professor, this feeling implies that you are facing up to your inner self. The process of carving stone is introspective, naturally leading to examining your own inner world. This is the quintessence of creating stone sculpture.

    The second year allows students not only to cultivate skills through handling multiple materials, but also to examine themselves deeply.

    2nd year
    2nd Year Goals
    Obtaining broader knowledge of materials and how to handle them. Acquiring corresponding production processes and abilities to use tools.
  • 3rd Year

    To deliver your idea to wider audiences

    During their first two years, students learn the characteristics of materials, as well as how to handle them. While students have till now worked on assignments given by their teachers, the third year students start to work on artwork and independently setting their creative themes, deciding the materials and means of expression by themselves. In addition to sculpture, work may now involve a range of genres, such as two-dimensional work, video, and performance. Creating their own artwork, students build up their awareness of “showing” and “conveying” their work to the general public.

    The year also offers students opportunities to learn different ways of thinking and presenting their work through producing exhibitions at off-campus galleries, and planning as well as organizing events with guest artists. Students then utilize these new skills in their work. Experiencing the role of an organizer who sets the stage for exhibiting artwork, students gain chances to look at their work objectively. The third year program emphasizes learning presentation methodology in order for students to organize their ideas. It is critical for students to be able to talk about their own work clearly.

    3rd year
    3rd Year Goals
    Advancing abilities to conceive and express ideas. Cultivating presentation and writing skills.
  • 4th Year

    Setting up artwork that is site-specific

    In the first semester, students work towards the outdoor exhibition during the summer open campus events. In the second semester they work on their graduation projects as the culmination of four years of study. Students explore their individual creative style, freely and diligently dealing with both material and space.

    In particular, exhibiting off-campus forces students to rethink the meaning of the site in which an artwork is placed. And through making a series of presentations right from the planning stages, students create artwork all while considering the materials and creative methods they select, and the size.

    These experiences are then utilized by students for their graduation projects, exhibited at Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. One student created iron armor to express his love of the two-dimensional worlds of anime and manga. Mixing different materials and hoping to create a relaxing, fraternal environment, another student made a hammock that evokes a paradise above the clouds. The journey that started with simple questions of what wood and metal are now comes to fruition for each and every student.

    4th year
    4th Year Goals
    Through independent creative work for two exhibitions, investigating materials, techniques, and creative methods more deeply.

Career paths after graduating from the Sculpture Course

Engaging with different materials, students obtain the ability to shape images into forms over the course of the four years. Those who are fascinated with materials then continue to work as artists. Many graduates go on to work in other fields that create three-dimensional work, including set design and product design. The ability to move production forward while dealing with difficult materials results in students who can be practical and flexible when working at actual professional production sites.

Career choices

  • Sculpture artist enchanting viewers
  • Set designer shaping images into forms
  • Product designer with an in-depth knowledge of materials
  • Art educator at junior high school or high school

Other career options

  • Furniture artisan
  • Display designer
  • Interior designer
  • Art producer
  • Film or television production staff
  • Museum curator
  • Event manager etc.

Sculpture Course Faculty Members (in Japanese)