2012-13 Catalog

Decorative graphic

Offering Description



Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Julia Zay visual arts, media arts, photography, film studies, art history , Shaw Osha (Flores) visual art , Kathleen Eamon philosophy
Fields of Study
aesthetics, art history, cultural studies, gender and women's studies, media studies, philosophy, visual arts and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
humanities, visual studies, gender studies, cultural studies, education and communications.

Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.
- Walter Gropius

In this program, we want to think about art, and we want to think about work, but we want to think about them in a historically-specific sense.  We will be talking about art and work as practices and discourses specific to “modernity,” and we will talk about modernity as marked by the emergence of art and work as distinct from the rest of social life.  And we will ask what it means to live, work, and make art right now.

Two broad disciplines, visual studies and philosophy, will orient us, and we will also look to the spirit of the Bauhaus (1919-1933) and its struggle to define a modernist art school curriculum as a way of making these questions concrete.  We will work our own intellectual and theoretical capacities right alongside our skills and techniques in visual and time-based art.  We will come to understand what it takes to have both intellectual and artistic practices , as well as how to produce our own intellectual and artistic work

In terms of coverage, the program will offer foundational work in visual and cultural studies, art and media practice, as well as 18 th -20 th century European philosophy.  We will study history in order to understand our own moment better.  We will begin our study with important texts that respond to the gradual rise of industry as the dominant mode of production, and we will continue our examination into the eras that follow.  We will trace the emergence of two tendencies that stand in some tension with one another: the idea of “work” undergoes some disenchantment with the rise of large-scale industry, but it also takes on a romantic aspect with the possibility of greater egalitarianism.  “Art,” and its work, is also simultaneously both debased and exalted, thought of as both epitome and critic of commodity culture, a space apart from and the ironic fulfillment of the market economy.

Following our study of the Bauhaus we will look to the rise of conceptualism in art in the 1960s and 70s and contemporary forms and institutions of art that are grappling with the question of art as labor and artists as workers under current economic pressures. All of these case studies will support our study of how the meaning and value of art has become invested in the everyday and uses labor as an organizing principle of the aesthetic.

We will pursue our themes by thinking, looking, and making.  In fall we will set our foundation by studying major philosophical and artistic movements and texts, basic skills in visual and time-based art, but also by developing our skills in reading, discussing, and writing about challenging texts in philosophy, cultural theory, and art history. 

In winter quarter, we will build on our foundation. One of our central aims will be to reconcile our own utopian aspirations, inspired by the struggles of the Bauhaus , by developing “schools” of our own.  Each of our schools will be responsible for designing a curriculum around a specific discipline and for making collaborative “work” across those disciplines.

We will study a range of theorists, artists, objects and practices. Authors include: G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Michel de Certeau, Judith Butler, Linda Nochlin, Julia Bryan-Wilson, and Miwon Kwon. Artists include: Joseph Albers, Walter Gropius and others affiliated with the Bauhaus, Fluxus-affiliated artists, Robert Morris, Yvonne Rainer, Mika Rottenberg, Chantal Akerman, Charles Burnett, the Maysles Brothers, Fritz Lang and John Sayles. We will also read from a variety of sources in art and media history and theory, and social theory. Program work will include research, writing (both formal academic writing as well as writing experiments), and the making of visual and media art.

Academic Website
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$150 per quarter for an overnight program retreat.
Internship Possibilities
Spring quarter, with faculty approval.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
December 4th, 2012 Winter fee added.
November 26th, 2012 Students may join this program in winter quarter, without signature, but should expect to complete some work over the break.
May 7th, 2012 Description updated.