Degree Program: 

How do creative works and practices frame our understanding of place, space, culture and ecosystem?

Take Spiral Jetty, by Robert Smithson, or the Lightening Field, by Walter deMaria, or the Sun Tunnels, by Nancy Holt, as examples of works of “Land Art” or Environmental Art. At first we may see these as objects, sculptures, or field conditions. Ultimately these works shift observers’ attention away from their object-ness, if they can even be called that, and towards the larger environment, allowing us to see in a new way.

And how, through engaging in creative practices ourselves, as makers and not consumers of cultural work, can we develop connections and resonances between things, ideas, experiences, perceptions of the world around us that were previously held apart?

This “special topics” seminar will cross various disciplinary territories (arts, design, and sciences) and embrace a range of exploratory methodologies so that we may, as a group of individuals and as a group, re-consider being in and with the Desert. It strives to create a context through a non-binary but rather gradient between reflective, reflexive and generative creative practices that may include close observation, reading, critical thinking and framing, writing, drawing, moving, embodying, physically engaging, constructing, inhabiting…; these forms of discovery and reflexivity will also be situated in dialogue with contextualizing frames of science, geography, land use, environment, and so on.

Students will be challenged to explore questions concerning our inhabitation of the desert through familiar and unfamiliar techniques, to work independently and in groups, to exit the classroom and campus to encounter the world and experts in diverse disciplines and to collaborate towards a creative work that synthesizes the complexity of our condition into a resonant work of poetic potency. 

Regular grades are awarded for this course: A B C D E