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Dru Colbert

Dru Colbert
207-801-5708 | | faculty website

Dru ColbertDru Colbert is an artist, designer and teacher. As a two and three dimensional designer, Dru works primarily for not-for-profit organizations on design projects that focus on social or environmental issues. She has designed major museum installation/exhibits like "A More Perfect Union" for the Smithsonian Institution (that focus on cultural issues such as Japanese American internment during WW II), and developed exhibitions presenting complex environmental topics such as the geologic, historic, social, and ecological landscapes of the Florida Everglades for the National Park Service. Her clients and collaborators include the Smithsonian Institution, the Maine State Museum, the Abbe Museum, the National Geographic Society, and the National Park Service. Dru has received various awards in recognition of her work from The National Endowment for the Humanities, The American Association of Museums, The New York Art Director's Club, The Smithsonian Institution, Print Magazine and others. As an installation artist, sculptor and painter, she combines curiosities, fragments of history, the documentary and the fantastic into stage settings for mysterious and personal narratives to unfold. She pursues opportunities to analyze, and utilize cultural objects and the American landscape as symbols and repositories of meaning and memory. Dru received a Master of Fine Arts degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997, where she subsequently taught courses in installation art, museum exhibition design, and two and three dimensional visual communication. In addition, she has taught special courses as a visiting artist in graphic design at Auburn University and the University of Maryland. In the summer, she offers courses in sculpture and puppet making for grades K–12 at the Summer Festival of the Arts.

At the College of the Atlantic, Dru has worked with students on a variety of interpretive projects that are presented in the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History and often travel to venues beyond the campus.

M.F.A. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1997
B.F.A. Auburn University, Auburn, AL, 1980

Courses Taught

AD20123D Studio: Introduction to Three-Dimensional Art and Design

This course is an introduction to three dimensional design and sculpture. Through a variety of projects students will analyze and apply the classic organizing principles of three dimensional design work.  Elements of form, space, line, texture, light, color, scale and time (including sound, sensory perceptions, movement and natural processes) will be explored -- with attention paid to how a work functions, involves a viewer, activates a space, or impacts an environment, physically, psychically or socially.  Projects in the class will progress from the creation of objects, to investigations of the sensory and objective aspects of space.  Students will experiment with subtractive and constructive processes using traditional as well as contemporary materials such as found, recycled and natural objects.  A diverse range of materials and techniques will be introduced and demonstrated.  Discussion of historic and contemporary artists' work will augment the course.  Students will be evaluated based on completion of projects, participation in class discussions and individual/group critiques.  

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Class limit: 15.  Lab Fee $85.  Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD4013Activating Spaces: Installation Art

"space in active dialogue with the things and people it contains..."  -RoseLee Golberg, from Space as Praxis
Installation art is one of the most original, vigorous, and fertile forms of contemporary art.

It often involves working in specific non-art sites where the activation of the place, or context, of artistic intervention is concerned not only with art and its boundaries, but also with the fusion of art and life. Installation art extends the area of practice from the studio to public space. Architects, urban planners, and environmental designers consider similar formal and social aspects of space in the creation of city plans, buildings, and public spaces. Through hands-on projects and a survey of historic and contemporary art and design work, this intermediate level 3D studio course offers an opportunity to explore formal aspects and social contexts of space and time as a medium for making art.

Students will create interior and exterior installations that may incorporate sculptural elements, everyday objects, light, sound, or other devices. Course work will investigate the objective and subjective qualities of space, material, and form, and the meanings created through their juxtaposition. In addition to studio work, we will survey a variety of historic and contemporary contextual art works including: spaces laid out by architects and designers, installation itself as an art form, public art projects, sacred spaces, the work of visionary artists, historic sites, and monuments.  Students will be evaluated on their participation in class activities and critiques, their timely completion of projects, and attendance.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced.  Prerequisites: 3D studio classes in art, architecture, environmental design, performance art or signature of instructor.  Class limit: 10.  Lab fee: $75.  Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD5018Carnet de Voyage: The Illustrated Travel Journal

In this advanced interdisciplinary arts course you will explore the form and nature of the illustrated travel journal or Carnet de Voyage and create a personal record of travel abroad. The nature of the Carnet de Voyage expresses a coherent narrative or aesthetic beyond the logging of dates and events as found in a field book or a ship's log. Because of the advanced nature of the course, you will be invited to draw on previous courses and experience in the arts to choose a media; drawing, sketching, painting, digital word and image, photography, video, or sound, to create a comprehensive visual response to, and documentation of, your travels that constitute an illustrated journal. You will be asked to focus your carnet on a particular aspect of culture. For example topics as broad as food, politics, industry, or as narrowly defined as body marking or human/animal interactions or the idea of waste.

Class presentations and discussion will surround the visual display of culture, and the history of the travel journal. We will survey the illustrated travel journal as an art, and as a record of cultural interaction through historic and contemporary examples shown in class, and through first hand observation in museums and other cultural institutions in France. Readings will include travel literature, Carnet de Voyages, and critical readings surrounding the representation of culture.

Class participants will be given technical guidance as needed on their projects and will share their work during in-progress and final critiques. Students will be required to create a copy of their work in final form for submission and evaluation. Evaluation will be based on participation in class discussions and activities; and in the thoroughness, level of thought, creativity, and artistry in visual research projects. This course is designed for students have demonstrated ability to complete independent work in the arts and are expected to have previously completed intermediate/advanced level courses in the arts.

Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: Introductory and intermediate level AD courses and permission of instructor; this course is intended to complement a term of language and film study in Vichy, France. Class Limit: 12. Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD2013Constructing Visual Narrative

Narrative: n. & adj.  N. a spoken or written account of connected events in order of happening. The practice or art of narration.  Adj. in the form of, or concerned with, narration (narrative verse).
How is meaning shaped by the images we create? In all cultures, throughout time, artists have sought ways to tell stories about far ranging topics -- the unknown, the success of a hunt, gods and goddesses, historical events, wars, court tales, biblical themes, social instruction, morals, politics, product promotion, and personal imaginings.  Historically, artists have adapted visual story telling techniques to exploit evolving technology and changing social concerns, from ancient wall markings, tomb inscriptions, scrolls, illuminated manuscripts, pottery decoration, carved totems, pictorial painting, to sequential engraved prints, comic books, graphic novels, graffiti and the web. In this studio course, students will investigate "visual language", symbolism, and some of the pictorial devices, materials, and techniques employed by artists to tell stories visually -particularly through sequential composition in the graphic arts. 

Through focused assignments, discussion of artists' works (historic and across cultures), and guided demonstrations in a variety of materials and techniques, students will respond to select historic forms of visual narrative to create unique contemporary forms in which to tell their own relevant stories. "Case Study" studio projects will be selected to focus on key points in world history that mark technological transition in material, technique and pictorial devices employed by artists to render visual narratives.  Projects will range from the hands-on exploration of ancient wall painting and low relief carving technique, through non-press printing techniques such as linocut, image transfer, and potato prints, to collage of found images, xerography, Polaroid print manipulation, digital prints and "synthetic" imaging on the computer. Students will be encouraged to explore and invent new forms of sequential composition and utilize new or previously unexplored materials or techniques.  Concurrent investigations in visual studies will focus on the meaning created through the use of pictorial devices, signs and symbols, and the creation of narrative structure through repeated image/duplication, sequential composition, and visual allegory. Students will be evaluated on writing assignments, level of completion and analysis of assigned readings, research and presentation, quality and completion of projects, and participation in class activities and discussion. There are no prerequisites, however, the following courses are recommended: Intro to Arts and Design, or 2D courses in drawing, painting, printmaking, or graphic design, photography, or writing and/or literature courses.

Level: Introductory/intermediate.  Class Limit: 15.  Lab Fee: $85.   Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD2014Curiosity and Wonder: Design & Interpretation in the Museum

From "cabinet of curiosity" to "exploratorium", this studio course surveys contemporary museum activities and methods of communication through visual display, space, and interaction.  Students will engage in a project development process to refine "big ideas", determine educational goals, and learn techniques to design and build their projects. Class participants will gain an understanding of factors that influence learning, media and modes that may be utilized to communicate complex content, and how meaning is constructed by the selection, organization and layering of intellectual material through the use of object, text, image, and experiential devices.

Projects and hands-on workshops will provide an opportunity to gain skills and techniques in visualizing ideas by developing concepts in the form of plans, sketches, models, and narrative description. Students will have an opportunity to evaluate and create interpretive material for the George B. Dorr Natural History Museum at the College of the Atlantic. Students will be evaluated through participation in class discussion and critiques, attendance, and for completion and quality of assigned projects.  This course is appropriate for all students interested in informal education in the museum environment, design, and visual communication.

Level: Introductory/intermediate. Prerequisite: One or more courses in Arts and Design OR Educational Studies. Class limit: 15.  Lab Fee: $85  Meets the following degree requirements: AD

AD5014Graphic Attack: Advanced Graphic Design Studio

The name of this course, "Graphic Attack", refers not only to the power of image and text within our visually saturated physical and virtual environments, but to the need to evaluate and respond critically to mass media. Students will explore and discuss the roles and responsibilities of designers as primary crafters of visual messages through promotion, advertising and identity design and investigate the work of artists and designers who appropriate tools of advertising to construct alternative messages outside of, and often in critique of, the commercial realm.
This advanced level studio art course combines critical examination of contemporary graphic design practice with studio projects in creative problem solving. Practice in design research, layout and composition, typography, digital imaging and text/image composition will be combined with hands-on studio projects in image generation such as block print, silkscreen, monoprint, instant photography, xerography and collage techniques.

Projects will range from investigations of personal identity and branding to advertising and package design in the retail and socio-political environments. Through studio visits, students will have an opportunity to meet professional artists and designers to discuss first hand process and ethical issues related to their work. Students will be evaluated on conceptual problem solving ability, effectiveness of design solutions, understanding and practice of the incremental process of design, timeliness and quality of work, and thoughtful participation in class discussion and critique.

Level: Intermediate.  Prerequisite: Signature of instructor, Graphic Design Studio I.  Class limit: 12.  Lab Fee: $85  Meets the following degree requirements: AD

AD2011Graphic Design Studio I: Visual Communication

Visual communication is one of the most pervasive means of human communication. Graphic design, within the realm of visual communication, is a process used to effectively convey ideas and information visually through print, electronic media, products in the marketplace, and structural elements in the built environment. Its application may be promotional, editorial, informational, expositional or instigational.  It may cater to, or critique -- commercialism, colonialism, capitalism, and advertising -- or alternately be used to organize information and visualize complex data, or concepts. Is it possible to construct a visual message that will be received through the din and noise of our overstuffed media environment?  Past other competing messages?  What are some of the contemporary issues surrounding design and the roles and responsibilities of graphic designers in the workplace and in their communities? 

In this introductory/intermediate level studio course you will become familiar with visual rhetoric and the basic elements, principles, and processes of graphic design that will help you to construct effective visual messages.  You will work on a variety of conceptual visual communication projects in the realms of information design, editorial design, and promotional design.  Lectures, demonstrations, assignments and critiques will offer a balanced framework for developing skills in creative perception, critical thinking and visual communication.  An emphasis is placed on these elements and evaluation will be weighted more heavily in these areas than technical expertise on the computer.  You will however, be required to learn the basics of several computer graphic applications (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign and/or Quark) in order to complete coursework.  You will receive basic instruction in these programs in class, but will be expected to refer to computer manuals and guide books for specific tools and techniques that may be required to visualize your ideas.  

Level: Introductory/Intermediate.  Prerequisites: Introduction to Arts and Design or Two Dimensional Design I recommended.  Class limit: 12 + 2 w/personal lap tops and appropriate software.  Lab fee: $85.  Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD4014Graphic Design Studio II / Digital Projects

This studio course offers students an opportunity for in-depth study of contemporary issues, applications and techniques in graphic design. Students will pursue conceptual problem solving through creative exercises and theoretical and applied studio projects. Particular emphasis will be placed on advancing skills in creative problem-solving, typography, layout, image generation and preparing art for print. Digital and hands-on methods (techniques such as block print) for image generation will be explored to create original illustrations. Projects will include typography and illustration exercises, identity design, environmental design and interpretive information design. Students will be encouraged to solicit a design project from the local community and produce it in the context of the class by engaging in the creative process from concept to production oversight during the course of the 10 week term. In addition to structured class assignments, students will have an opportunity to propose and pursue their own design projects.
This class will be conducted in seminar/studio format. Emphasis will be placed on the design process - from creation to production, the timely completion of project phases, creative solutions and advancing skill in typography, layout and image generation. The detailed schedule will depend largely on the course make-up and individual project proposals.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced.  Prerequisites: Signature of Instructor, Graphic Design Studio 1.  Class limit: 12.  Lab fee: $85. Meets the following degree requirements: AD

HE1010Human Ecology Core Course

Human Ecology is the interdisciplinary study of the relationships between humans and their natural and cultural environments.  The purpose of this course is to build a community of learners that explores the question of human ecology from the perspectives of the arts, humanities and sciences, both in and outside the classroom.  By the end of the course students should be familiar with how differently these three broad areas ask questions, pose solutions, and become inextricably intertwined when theoretical ideas are put into practice.  In the end, we want students to be better prepared to create your own human ecology degree through a more in depth exploration of the courses offered at College of the Atlantic.  We will approach this central goal through a series of directed readings and activities.

Level:  Introductory.  Lab fee: $25.  Meets the following degree requirements: HE

AD380Intermediate Graphic Design Studio II

This intermediate level course offers students an opportunity for in-depth study of contemporary issues, applications, and techniques in graphic design. Course content will vary. Topics include typography, digital imaging, analog imaging, conceptual problems in information design, environmental design, promotional, publication, and editorial design. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Signature of instructor, Graphic Design Studio I. Class Limit: 12. Lab fee: $85. *AD*

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