Tradition and Innovation: Northwest Coast Indigenous Digital Design

Spring 2021
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 15
4 12 Credits per quarter
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This is a foundational program emphasizing digital design, art histories, visual literacy, and artistic research.  The thematic thread will address a range of visual languages, design strategies, and traditions employed by various communities, including Northwest Coast Indigenous design history and traditions.  These approaches to images and objects are quite different from conventional, western ideas about “Art” that is primarily aesthetically pleasing or focused on self-expression.  The program is designed to support both students who are visual art emphasizers, as well as those who are interested in education. No prior art experience necessary --  enthusiasm, good organization, and a strong work ethic are required.

The morning lectures and workshops will provide an overview of contemporary Northwest Indigenous arts by looking at work by Indigenous artists, scholars, and curators. You will be introduced to innovative work being made by contemporary Indigenous artists to consider the challenges they face in developing their practice. You will also gain insights into current writing being produced by Indigenous scholars developing theories from an Indigenous perspective.

In the afternoon digital design workshops students will be introduced to Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop applications.  Students will use industry-leading techniques to make new artwork for a digital portfolio. Students will build on their visual literacy skills in Pacific Northwest Indigenous art, with a particular focus on the Northwest Coast Formline art style.

This program will have a 12-credit option that combines the lecture and digital art workshops; there will be a separate 4-credit option that covers only the digital art workshop component.  If you register for one, do not register for the other.

In general, program activities will involve faculty lectures, guest lectures, images, videos, virtual museum tours, workshops, readings and class discussions, short writing assignments, project reviews, and presentations. Students are expected to use critical thinking skills in interpreting the readings, images, videos, tours, and lectures.

Instruction will be online in Zoom and Canvas. Films will have an asynchronous option, viewable by students on their own through Canvas links, but also shown in class. Most lectures and workshops will be in synchronous morning classes, to replicate (as much as possible) a classroom learning community. All digital art workshops will be on Zoom in synchronous afternoon sessions.

To successfully participate remotely in this program, students will need a computer or laptop (Chromebooks cannot run Adobe programs). Students will have access to Adobe Creative Cloud (specifically Illustrator and Photoshop). The remote learning structure of our lessons is as follows: Lectures/workshops will be held on Zoom (accessible via Canvas) in morning classes, and there will be digital art workshops on Zoom in the afternoon.


Spring 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (12): 30283
So - Sr (4): 30286

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory For

Visual arts, education, cultural education, and Indigenous Studies

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting