Artists to Watch Today
ARH 2198-01 Dr. Betsy Towns
Office: Workplace West III, room 109 firstname.lastname@example.org,
Office Hours: by appointment
"From early on, very early on, I understood that art is not about what you say. It’s about these other things that you don’t say." Cai Guo-Qiang
This active upper-level, content-, composition-, and conversation-intensive course explores artists working today who appear poised to have significant impact on our culture. We’ll engage with visual art from around the world, most from the 21st century, and fiction, criticism, theory, philosophy and multimedia responses to Art Today, working to determine what we each find important to watch.
● Journal notebook or sketchbook.
o Minimum 8 inches in any direction
o dedicated to this class
● At least 100 4x 6 index cards
● Scotch tape
● 24 pack crayons, or colored pencils, or, if you’re good with ‘em, markers
● 6 mixed line pens, pref all black; pencils
● Readings will be available via email, on our blog, or on Blackboard. Assigned materials will include non-fiction, fiction, poetry, films, songs, ads, blogs; in short, a variety of forms. I will frequently ask you to print the readings and mark them up.
● Access to functional printer with paper and ink
● Class Blog: http://artisanlab.blogspot.com/
● Films: (Both available on Netflix streaming as of 1/5/2016)
o Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, 2012
o Alison Klaiman, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, 2012
● We will be reading very significant chunks from Sarah Thornton, 33 Artists in 3 Acts. I recommend that you get a copy! but…. I will provide chapters on blackboard as needed
● Facebook: I have group for the class to share links, UNCSA Artists to Watch Today; I encourage but don’t require you to join.
Student Responsibilities –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
● To Learn is a verb…. come to class ready to think, build bridges, make knowledge. Learning takes root in play, experimentation and reflection. Find time and space for those
● Come to class on-time, prepared, and ready to engage. Complete all assignments and bring a notebook and writing/drawing tools.
● You are responsible for all the material in this syllabus. If you lose your syllabus, you can find it online. Print any syllabus updates and keep them handy.
● You are responsible for your education. Manage your schedule, act professionally, and contact me about any concerns you may have.
● Your behavior affects the experience and education of your colleagues, negatively or positively. Someone checked out or not prepared drains energy from the class. One engaged with the material and actively participating adds value for all.
● Above all: Be Curious. Take interest. Ask questions
This course introduces you to practices of examining, analyzing, and interpreting images and articulating your responses to them in speech and in writing. Your questions, insights, and energy will drive the course and what you learn. Contribute to discussion each day. Please prepare homework carefully so that you are ready to contribute effectively in class.
At this point, you are likely familiar with the conventions of participation in college courses, but for the record: success in this course necessitates a community ethos – requiring active, sustained, purposeful engagement. Building and sustaining the community of this class is each of our shared obligation and responsibility.
We must engage with each other seriously, substantively, respectfully, and carefully. I work to structure and sustain a safe environment for creative and intellectual risk and practice respect for class members as well as their work at all times. I expect you to meet these same standards for professionalism. We will all:
● Take each other seriously, even (perhaps especially) if you disagree.
● Meet deadlines
● When confused: ASK QUESTIONS.
Major Assignments –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
In addition to completing the assigned readings and class and homework assignments, major course requirements consist of
● Composition & Response book, including 3 small comp responses 30%
● 3 compositions 30%
● a final project. 20%
● Participation, presentation critiques, responses, etc. 20%
With each, seek the most appropriate form for the content you’re working with; this may be an essay (from formal to experimental to playful to…), a photo essay, a video, a performance, a work of art, a multimedia extravaganza. For all of these, the key elements are the same, and they include: a clearly articulated central idea, substantive development, coherent structure with an inviting opening and convincing finale, and form and presentation that suits the material and reveals your commitment to your work and your audience. You’ll evaluate the work of your peers on a variety of standards, and I’ll evaluate work in terms of content, craft, and creativity.
Acknowledgements: You will use a variety of sources to gain knowledge about your subjects; always acknowledge those who have contributed to your understanding by providing sources and citations for information in the appropriate format
Grades take into account:
● Content (accuracy and substance of material created),
● Craft (care and attention to design and detail)
● Creativity (inventive solutions to assignments; original, critical thinking).
If you accomplish all that is required on time, clearly, correctly, thoroughly and in a satisfactory manner, expect a B. To earn an A, go above and beyond: execute work in an original and exemplary fashion. Work that exhibits minimal effort or limited breadth in thought and/or effort will earn a C or lower. Failure to demonstrate understanding of the material and/or to show depth of effort will result in a Failing grade. Late work: 1 letter grade per day. If you have an excused absence, send your work with a friend or deliver it to my mailbox
Major Due Dates:
2/9 Composition #1 and response due on blackboard and in book- notebooks due in class
3/17 Composition #2 and response due on blackboard and in book
3/29 Catalogue Entry/ Museum Label
4/7Composition #3 and response due on blackboard and in book
Presentation : sign up
5/4, 1:00-3:00 Final Project Exhibit and Critique – notebooks due
Course Calendar –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
This calendar outlines the course generally. I will introduce much more material in class, and assignments and due dates are subject to change given caprices of weather, health, and the culture of the classroom. You are responsible for being up to date so watch for any syllabus updates on the course blog and via blackboard.
For every reading/viewing assignment, you must either answer specific questions I pose or write a half page response to the aspects that interest in your journal before class.
1/12 Introductions. Review of Modernism and Postmodernism. Elements, Principles, and Composition in all Media.
1/ 19 Postmodern & its Predecessors: Duchamp & Warhol. HW:Read: “The Influence of Marcel Duchamp on Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, and Peter Blake,” available at artrepublic,
1/21 Artist as Art: Identity & Art of the 80’s. (Velasquez, Dali, Warhol; Abramovic, Sherman)
HW:: View: Marina Abramovic: the Artist is Present, Read: Sarah Thornton on Cindy Sherman
1/26 Relational Aesthetics: The Art of the 90’s (Felix Gonzales-Torres, Christian Boltanski, Sophie Calle, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ben Kinmont, Mark Dion)
HW: Reading by Nicolas Bourriaud, “Relational Aesthetics,” on Blackboard)
1/28 Admitting Negative Bias. Artists to Watch whom I don’t want to Watch
HW:: readings about Koons and Hirst from Sarah Thornton Presentation #1
2/2 Admitting Positive Bias: Five of my Favorites ( Heffernan, Celmins, Richter; Mann) HW:: readings from and about Sally Mann (on Bb), Lawrence Weschler on Richter (on Bb) optional additional homework: Corinna Beltz, Gerhard Richter Painting, 2011 Presentation
2/4 Contemporary Art informed by Art History (Julie Heffernan, Kehinde Wiley, Yasumasa Morimura, Eve Sussman, Cindy Sherman.) HW: reading on Kehinde Wiley tba
2/9 Composition #1 due, posted to blackboard by classtime. no reading. Discussion topic: your heroes and horrors in contemporary art(s)
2/11 Museum Visit. HW:Read and comment on all compositions
2/16 Discussion of Composition #1 HW:: study and comment on all compositions posted on blackboard
2/18 Detailed observation, I think! or exploration of identity. Specifics tba.
2/23 Topic: Work (Gerhard Richter, Mark Bradford, El Anatsui, Tam Van Tran, Julie Heffernan) HW:: Read excerpts from: Heidegger, “On the Origin of the Work of Art,” Benjamin, “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” on blackboard (long challenging reading day!) Presentation
2/25 Identity: Cao Fei, Hubbard/Birchler, Mary Reid Kelly, Roni Horn, Wangechi Mutu. HW:: Watch Art 21: Cao Fei, Hubbard/Birchler, and Mary Reid Kelly (on pbs.org), Read: Sarah Thornton on Wangechi Mutu (on Bb) Presentation
2/26 last day to withdraw
3/1 Form as Meaning: Leonardo Drew, Gabriel Orozco, Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama HW: Readings from Sarah Thornton on and Art 21 viewing tba Presentation
3/3 Moving Image as Visual Art: Pippilotti Rist, William Kentridge. HW: Read at least 2 articles about Rist here: http://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/25/pipilotti-rist/press/. Bring passages to share and your comments to class in your journal. Carefully explore this site on William Kentridge http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/williamkentridge/
3/5-3/13 Spring Break
3/15 Satire. HW:Reading: Sarah Thornton on Maurizio Cattelan, Yinka Shonibare on Art 21. Additional Artists: Ron Mueck, Patricia Piccinini, John Feodorov, Kerry James Marshall Presentation
3/17 Composition #2 due. no other HW:. Storytelling: Brothers Quay, Grayson Perry, Kara Walker, others.
3/22 Time: Documentary/Evidence Hiroshi Sugimoto, Mark Dion, Walton Ford, Pierre Hugo, Starn Twins, Thomas Struth. HW: Watch Art 21: Sugimoto, Dion, Ford Presentation
3/24 Composition 2 Discussion. (HW:: respond as directed to all compositions on blackboard)
3/29 Museum labels Due, hung: Campus Tour.
3/31 HW:view Alison Klaiman, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, 2012, netflix Final Project Topic Due
4/5 Politics Alfredo Jaar, Omar Fast, Shirin Neshat, HW:reading: Alfredo Jaar and Simon Critchley in Conversation. Presentation
4/7 Composition #3 due. no HW:discussion topic: Catch up day. Review, reflection.
4/12 Politics 2 Martha Coburn, An-My Le, Swoon HW:reading: NYT on Swoon and New Yorker on An-My Le. Read all compositions Presentation
4/14 Discussion of Composition #3 (HW:: study all compositions posted on blackboard)
4/19 Performance and Its Objects: Janine Antoni, Charles Atlas, Nick Cave, Kimsooja, HW: Art in America interview with Janine Antoni, Kimsooja on Art 21 Presentation
4/21 Animals: Cai Guo Qiang, Pierre Huyghe, Pieter Hugo, Olly & Suzi. HW:Reading: Randy Kennedy, “Pierre Huyghe: Unpredictable Anarchy” NYT, Nuridsany on Zhou Chunya, and “The Reciprocated Gaze: In the Photographer Pieter Hugo,” ArtMag and read or just peruse pictures in Will Smith, “The Hyena and Other Men,” Museo Magazine, Presentation
4/26 Topic and HW:tbd. Artists to Watch literally today Presentation
4/28 Topic and HW:tbd Artists to Watch literally today
5/4 Final Project Exhibit and Critique
Policy Matters –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Time Commitment –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
In all classes, students should expect to spend 2 to 3 hours working outside of class for every hour in class. This course meets three hours a week, so students will spend 6-9 hours on hw.
Technology: You may use laptops, phones, etc for course purposes. If you check emails, text, surf (and, it’s easy for people to tell when you have checked out) I’ll ask you to switch off. If it happens more than once, that’s it: device free for the term.
Late work: Because this course is collaborative, to get the most from it, work must be available by the due date. Late work will not be critiqued either by your colleagues or me.
Critique requirement: You will share almost all the work you compose in this course with the class. Thoughtful, substantive critique of your peers’ work is a significant course requirement.
This is a discussion course, therefore regular attendance is crucial. A week of unexcused absences will affect your course grade. Two weeks of unexcused absences will result in failing. An unexcused absence on a day that we are to discuss your work means you will not get feedback. We will move on with the schedule.
If you do miss class, you are still responsible for the material. In the event of an illness or emergency, make up the work as quickly as possible. If you stop coming to class, do not assume that I will withdraw you. You are responsible for managing your course enrollment. If I must cancel class, I will email and post on blackboard materials and any needed schedule revisions.
I encourage you to meet with me at least once during term. We can discuss writing ideas or issues, possible topics or methods, and even look at drafts. I am available to discuss academic accommodations that may be required for students with disabilities. If you email me, I try to respond within 24 hours; if I do not respond after 48, assume that I didn’t get the message.
All work that you submit must be your own and composed solely for this course. Plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated. UNCSA’s “Academic Integrity Policy” is as follows:
UNCSA is committed to fostering an intellectual, artistic, and ethical environment based on the principles of academic integrity as a critical part of educating artists and citizens. Academic integrity is essential to the success of the University's mission, and violations of academic integrity constitute offenses against the entire UNCSA community. Students who violate University rules on academic integrity are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and/or dismissal from the University. Since such academic integrity violations harm the individual, all students, and the integrity of the University, policies on academic integrity will be strictly enforced. For further information please visit the College Handbook Website (pg. 54): http://www.uncsa.edu/about/office-of-the-provost/handbooks/college-handbook/appendix-d.aspx
Writing Center: The school’s writing center offers free assistance on a walk in basis. Hours are posted on the UNCSA website on the “For Students” page. No appointment is necessary. The Writing Center is located on the second floor of the Academic Services House, 1915 Sunnyside Avenue. For further information contact Elizabeth Klaimon, Director of the Writing Center. Email: email@example.com Phone: (336) 631-1515.
Accommodation for Students with Disabilities: In compliance with the UNCSA policy and equal access laws, I am available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations required for students with disabilities, given written documentation. Consider registering with the Office for Student Disabilities to verify eligibility.
The Writing Center at UNCSA Our goal is to work with students to help them become better writers
Elizabeth Klaimon, Director, Writing Center, Sunnyside, 631-1514 firstname.lastname@example.org,
· Free one-on–one tutoring sessions: between 15 – 45 minutes long.
· Assistance in all stages of the writing process
Adverse Weather Policy
In the case of overnight weather situations, such decisions normally will be made before 6 a.m. and will be posted on the UNCSA home page (www.uncsa.edu), on the recorded greeting at the main phone line(336-770-3399
For each composition assignment, dig into the work of an artist active today whom you think we should keep our eyes on. You may choose one of the suggestions below, or work with your own idea.
o Compositions can take the form of essays, creative fiction, artwork, multimedia, letters, podcasts, videos, comics, lectures or some other form.
o For each, you must include a carefully-written narrative describing and explaining your choices in developing the piece.
o You cannot repeat forms. In other words, you can’t choose to do two photo-essays, or two documentary videos. The assignments can build cumulatively. You can explore a theme or concern over several pieces. Or, you can dig more deeply into material that has emerged from class. Your final project may make use of your earlier work.
o Remember that describing what you see in the works of art you are working with is a key part of writing about art! Let us see what you see.
- Consider the question: what period are we in now? What artists best demonstrate it?
- Research and explain an artist’s techniques, processes, biography, content, artworks, career, etc. in an essay, documentary video, illustrated book, cartoon, etc.
- Research an artist’s body of work. Create their next great work or exhibit
- Curate an exhibit of a single artist’s work or a group show. Print or otherwise create reproductions, create the labels and exhibition materials, and hang the show for us. You could do this in real scale or miniature.
- Review, in some fashion, an art event or work. You can look at a body of work or an individual work, but describe what you see! (translate the visual to the verbal)
- Respond and engage with an assigned reading. This can be an essay or review. It can be a parody, a homage, a variation, or a revision.
- Go to Wake Forest and look at works in their Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art. Start at the Benson Center, the student Union. (you can check out a catalogue at the info desk.) (you can get a chik-fil-a sandwich or a krispy kreme to sustain you while you look and think). Find a work that interests you, research the artist and the piece, and respond to it with an essay, a video podcast, a map, chart, graph, or other information network, an artwork of your own, a review... or…
- Make a piece of art in a public place. Document the response of at least five viewers (either secretly or by asking them for their response.) In your narrative, be sure to explain who or what influenced and inspired your choices?
- Gather a group of five-ten well-known artworks and explain why you think of them as connected. Possibilities: ten works of art on the same subject, seven very blue works, works that show how horrible people can be, art about love, death, curiosity, politcs, disaster. Art that you talked about with your boyfriend the day before you broke up. Works that include dogs, well-designed shoes, or that include collections of paintings in the background. Portraits of power, beauty, desire. Make a little book, cartoon, or webpage that digs into why you think these works should go together.
- Write a speech about your favorite work of art and what makes it good. Orate in a public place and document the experience.
- Analyze another writer’s response to a work of art. What theories, philosophies, or techniques do they employ? What position do they take?
- Write a proposal for a book about an artist, theme, or artwork. Consider designing the cover, writing the cover text, including summary, ‘blurbs’, and flap text.
- Design an exhibit, and create the introductory text, catalogue entries/labels for some of the included works, perhaps the promotional materials for the exhibit…
Due date: sign up in class.
In twenty minutes, teach us something substantive about a contemporary artist to watch, or a group of artists or artworks you see as connected. Consider the best way to deliver the information so that it is unforgettable, and uniquely connects form and content.
Inspiration: Scott McCloud on TED; Sir Ken Robinson and RSA on TED, Isabella Rosellini Green Porno, John Green Crash Course, The Might Be Giants Here Comes Science, Lynda Barry
Structure your information in some way – a handout, a Powerpoint, prezi, a blog are the traditional ways; a monologue, a performance a film also work. Do not try to wing it. Avoid relying on others’ material (video, for example) too much Twenty minutes is a long time. Be prepared and have something substantive to teach.
Due date: last week of the term
In your end-of-term project, you will intelligently and creatively engage with the course material. You may draw on the options listed above to create a project that goes into greater depth. You may choose to further develop your work from earlier in the term, explore an idea that arose in class, or pursue a different approach. You must present a clearly-articulated and developed idea to the class on the day topics are due. Try to find a topic and form that fills you with desire to get started. Making something you want will make you make it something you’ll be proud of. And, very likely, so will I.