Making Something From Nothing
This course will explore important themes in contemporary art, while structuring experiences that help students think analytically and creatively.
By studying the artist's use of material and process, we will see how ideas of place, the environment, and the construction of identity as it relates to history, politics, race, gender, and sexuality are associated with the very textures of found objects, discards, and other ephemeral matter. The artists we will study have turned away from rigidly traditional forms of art in favor of forms that cross boundaries, defy definition, and stand on their own as investigations into the material and history of that from which they are made.We will approach course material in class through studio projects, essays, discussions, and lectures. The studio work will challenge the students to think about their own relationship to material. Visual choices require a different kind of thinking, and students will have to think about the ability of textures, surfaces, and other visual qualities to communicate with a wide audience.
Masks and Meaning
What is the transformational power of the mask for the contemporary performer? Which societies keep mask traditions alive through religious ritual, community celebration, and/or artistic expression? How do these communities imbue masks with spirit?
Discover the world of masks through this hands-on studio class in mask design and mask making. Movement workshops focus on two contrasting performance styles, Italian Commedia dell’Arte (using the mask you make) and Japanese Noh Performance. Social identity and ritual healing for our contemporary community are explored through collaboratively creating original masks. Your research into the expressive power of a specific tradition – Native American, Africa, Asia, Indonesia, or your own – is shared both through class presentation and your creation of a mask inspired by your study.
Pop & Protest
Despite frequent calls to simply "shut up and sing," popular artists have always been vital catalysts for change.
This course investigates the roles and responsibilities for musicians within popular culture, giving particular attention to their engagement with social and political movements. How have groundbreaking songs and performances influenced and inspired their historical contexts? A larger goal relating to the first year experience lies in a dialogue regarding how modern American society "sees" each other. What defines our identity and how in turn do we identify others? How do discussions and disputes over race, class, and prejudice present a challenge for living an examined life? Do social constructs exist that influence our impressions and decisions? Through an examination of creative works we will explore and challenge the values of modern society as well as our own.
The Half-Known World
In this course we'll approach the writing process as a journey through what writer Robert Boswell calls the "half-known world" -- an approach in which the writer invites the unknown into the writing process, where, through revision, the written work teaches the writer what it "wants" to be about.
You'll have the opportunity to creatively and critically write in a variety of genres, from fiction to nonfiction. We'll read a wide variety of nonfiction and fiction (from realism to magical realism, from memoir to critical essay) from a variety of American and international writers. Along the way we'll investigate the fertile crossroads of thinking "critically" and thinking "creatively" -- we'll debate the critical elements of creative writing and the creative elements of critical writing. If a difference exists between thinking critically and thinking creatively, what is this difference? What can the creative/critical writing process teach us about the world we live in -- and about ourselves? One of the primary goals of this course will be to sharpen a skill that will prove useful to you throughout college: critical and creative investigation through critical and creative writing.