Art 160 : Special Topics in Visual Studies: Material Worlds: Contemporary Sculpture and the Social Life of Objects.

This is an advanced interdisciplinary class with a focus on material culture, studio production, reading, and critical theory on capitalism’s effects on the production of art, as well as artists’ responses to its demands.

What does it mean to make “objects” in a world already glutted with object-products? How does the mechanical or mass production of object-products inform or create friction against the intimately handmade? This class will ask students to examine their own methods and materials of “object-making”, situate themselves against a contemporary context of global manufacturing and “product-making,” and attempt to reclaim the idea of sculpture as a social catalyst as opposed to standard consumer object.

Topics covered will include the readymade and globalization, the unique object versus the mass-produced, artists who mimic corporate production and distribution chains, and the social and political effects of production, consumption, capitalism, and the various forms of resistance to it such as shopdropping, counterfeiting, public ownership, and the DIY craft movement. Art movements such as the Bauhaus and the Arts and Crafts Movement will be explored as examples of responses to the dilemma of mass production. We will also cover the intersection of art and design, looking at groups such as Atelier Van Lieshout, Unfold, Futurefarmers, and Andrea Zittel, among others.

Students will utilize traditional sculptural mediums, ceramics, and craft techniques as well as simple 3-D computer modeling programs, free object databases, and digital processes, among others. Project assignments are structured to take advantage of individual students’ interests, while at the same time providing distinct parameters and goals. We will also be looking extensively at contemporary artists working today, and discussing how their art reflects upon and impacts the world around them. A museum field trip, collaborative project, visiting artist talks, and and workshops/demos will be included. Regular readings will be assigned, with discussion and response to follow.