Spring 2023. Advanced Practice: Less, Then Ego


CRN: 13369 PGFA 5303 A

Adv Practice: Less, Then Ego

Faculty: Cullen Washington

Fri. 12:10 – 2:50pm


The title references the 80’s movie, Less Than Zero about addiction and loosing the sense of self. This studio course encourages the removal of the ego from the thinking of painting and therefore the process of painting. The starting place of our conversation will be in Freudian study of ego, id and superego. Readings continue with Buddhist belief systems about attachment and suffering with examples of the meticulous sand paintings. Aspects of work that address identity will also be a center of focus. The class will define possible criteria for ego based painting. What does ego based painting promote (identity, gender, sense of self, etc.)? From here, works presumably tied to ego would be viewed as well as works that employ the readymade and removal of the hand. Exercises would include: Dismissal of scale and grandness, painting small; Removal of the hand, directness; The “Never Ending Story”, a semester long painting by which students make major weekly adjustments that cover up both good and bad parts of the painting; “Second-hand”, painting over other students’ works and then improvising; “Time Out”, painting quickly, investment of time and labor doesn’t automatically equate to quality.


Open to: MFA Fine Arts & upper level BFA Fine Arts students only. Others by permission. Some seats reserved for MFA Fine Arts Students.


Faculty Bio

Cullen Washington, jr. is an abstract painter. His works entitled, Primers (meaning the underlying beginning) pair ideas of skin and space, color and fields. They symbolize the underlying beginnings of consciousness, matter and humanity. The atmospheric surfaces are comprised of graphite, charcoal, ground mineral pigments and ink, a primordial mixture using the basic element carbon found in natural phenomena.

Cullen Washington Jr. is a native of Louisiana and received his BA from Louisiana State University and his MFA from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Washington has exhibited his work nationally and internationally including: The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; The Studio Museum in Harlem; The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Massachusetts;  The University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Saatchi Gallery, London. In addition, Washington has been an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Yaddo and Amherst College. He was the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Residency in New Orleans. Cullen’s work can be found in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem,  the Joyner / Giuffrida Collection, and the Charles Saatchi Gallery.