Adelheid Mers: Teaching + Curriculum

Since 1996, I have taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, first adjunct across multiple, studio and theory departments (an immense advantage in gaining a curricular perspective), and later tenured, after joining the department of Arts Administration and Policy. In Chicago, I also taught at the American Academy of Art, a design school, Columbia College, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, downstate at Illinois State University, and as visitor for summer classes or block seminars at Alfred University (Alfred, NY), Leuphana University, Fachhochschule Potsdam, the Bauhaus University Weimar (all Germany), and the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (Austria), through their department of Cultural Management and Gender Studies.


How I see art school curriculum is rooted in advising and teaching experience, refined through intentional conversations with individual artists and cultural managers as part of art/research projects. I represent my perspective through THE BRAID template, a diagram alliteratively tagged making, mediating, and managing. The first two of these three suites can be traced diachronically through histories of art education, shown in an exemplary manner by Howard Singerman, with the third being emergent, hinted at early by Dwight Conquergood, whose own alliteration is,"creativity, critique, citizenship". All three can be observed in the modes individual artists and administrators work through. In historical perspective, making is first, capturing studio apprenticeship with all its concerns (a subject centered/art world view); mediating marks the curricular entry of critical and theoretical reflection, mainly through art history and art sociology frameworks (an object centered/art field view); while managing, initially narrowly understood as professional practice (often relegated to career services operations) is now in the early stages of being expanded into a metamodeled conception of arts and culture (a node/forcefield aware, arts ecology view).

While chairing a department, I focused on introducing material that furthers the third perspective, by increasing access to forms of resarch, media ecology and technology, and recruiting and hiring to increase diversity.


My course descriptions are compiled below. I launch new courses roughly annually, according to expressed student needs, and pegged to my research interests (marked as New_Course). I have also taught from existing descriptions (Core_Course), writing syllabi with different degrees of freedom. Courses are listed in reverse order, for the year they were first offered. Many of these courses were taught multiple times, while others were one-time experiments. Some were co-taught. When my schedule required me elsewhere, courses were handed off to colleagues, who have since updated them and made them their own.

Course Descriptions:

2020_New_Course_Reading as Creative Practice

A course that cuts across textualism, to bring embodied experience and academic reading together. In development. SAIC

2019_New_Course_Performance Studies: Embodying Art and Cultural Policy Research

This course, a seminar and laboratory, is situated at the triple intersection of (1) Art Research, drawing on course participants' artistic, scholarly and managerial practices, particularly in the ways they shape each other; (2) Performance Studies, addressing its broad engagement across theater, performance art, choreography, and modes of research, including modes of notation and forms of field work; and (3) Cultural and Cultural Policy Studies, looking particularly towards ways of modeling institutions and cultural ecologies, and social justice concerns. Through readings, group and individual projects, we will explore how Performance Studies with its focus on embodiment is a strong complement for Art Research and Cultural/Policy Studies inflected cultural work and activism, offering up broader tactics for diverse practices. Final projects will be documented on the international Research Catalogue platform, accommodating text, image, sound and video sources. SAIC

2019_Course Update_Art Economies (2009)

Art Economies discusses value formations in the arts through three key metaphors: Art Worlds, Art Fields and Arts Ecologies. Each metaphor is connected to a specific discourse, with linking models to be observed between each. Art Worlds are framed through histories of and critical debates in Museum Studies. Art Fields are worked out primarily through sociological debates, taking as a baseline Bourdieu's and Baudrillard's mobilizations of institutions and practices and leading into Creative Industries models. Surpassing those, Arts Ecologies provide insights into theories of networks, transnational capital and related media policies. Operating contemporaneously, the three discourses are refracted through each other. This course will untangle lines of argument, and support artists, designers and arts administrators not only in critically navigating the complex vocabularies, but also in interacting with the institutional frameworks they have spawned. SAIC

2018_Block Seminar_Dear artist, dear neighbor, dear [...], how do you know? Exploring Performative Diagrammatics as Medium of Artistic Research

Artist and researcher Adelheid Mers (lives and works/teaches in Chicago) uses diagrammatic means to probe artistic and communal processes of knowing and working. This seminar is part of the concept preparation for an exhibition in March 2019 in Berlin, at Kunstverein Nord, that Mers will participate in. This course is offered as a block seminar. Using existing diagrammatic templates (Fractal 3-Line Matrix und Braid), participants will be able to conduct facilitated auto-epistemologies that tease out personally preferred ways of working and creating new knowledge (cognitive engines). This material will be the basis for collaborative work that will consider mobile, topological forms of public, meta-cognitive spaces. A leading question is how communal knowledge emerges in context. Our explorations will include performative uses of simple objects and gestures to experiment with arising, connective patterns. In preparation for the exhibition, field trips to Berlin Moabit will serve to establish connections within the local, cultural ecology, with the goal to develop ways to offer participatory uses for the installation. Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany

2018_Core_Module_Theories of Art Production and Organizations

This module explores the environment and framework for the production of cultural goods. It provides an overview of current theories on the production of cultural goods, and you will critically reflect on these theories in the context of professional practice. You will also analyse the role of cultural organisations within their broad network in society, politics and the market. Content for this module was commissoned for a new, online MA program, offered in collaboration by Leuphana University and the Goethe Institut, Germany

2018_ Course Update_Art Economies (2009)

This course has been significantly updated to address the impact of digital economies and the shifts in value creation that are occurring along technological axes. Topics include the Sharing Economy; Branding, Reputation and Information Literacy; Digital Humanities and the rise of Project Work; Blockchain and Organizing for the Arts; and more.

2017_Study Trip_Course_Documenta 14

Documenta is one of the important international art exhibitions, organized by a newly appointed team every five years in Kassel, Germany, since 1955. The 2017 iteration — Documenta 14 — is unique in that it is situated in response to world political events, by having a large part of its programming in Athens, Greece. Subtitling the exhibition "Learning from Athens", this iteration's artistic director Adam Szymczyk has invited MCA curator Dieter Roelstrate (working in Kassel)
and Logan Center curator Monika Szewczyk (working in Athens) onto his team, offering SAIC a local point of entry. While this trip will focus solely on the extensive Documenta programming while in Kassel, in Greece we will also visit crucial sites of cultural value, from the Acropolis to concurrent art exhibitions such as the Athens Biennale. We think it is crucially important that students not only observe, but actively engage. In each city, students will have two days to develop and enact performative assignments around the roles of hosts and guests, culture and citizenship, all central Documenta 14 themes. These will be accompanied by art historical and arts policy rooted discussions and written assignments. Students are to contribute to both, performative and writing assignments, to an extent in keeping with their research interests, abilities and credit selections. A collaborative spirit will be fostered. Co-taught with Mechtild Widrich. SAIC

2016_New_Course_Flexible Art Worlds

This course explores the various interests and systems that animate art worlds. Those who create arts businesses, operate arts organizations and participate in the work of arts institutions shape how a significant part of culture is produced. By articulating and enacting plans, missions, programs and policies, professional and volunteer cultural workers advance rationales that materialize as specific opportunities, support, production, presentation and dialogue. These activities are driven by multiple interests, embedded in popular, economic and academic discourses, enacted variously at local, national and global scale. Drawing on contemporary examples and including experience contributed by seminar participants and visiting lecturers, this intensive course will lay out a foundation on which to assess the many positions currently active in cultural networks. Students who are trying to establish art careers and students who aspire to work or already have experience working as arts administrators are equally addressed. This course was developed with the support of Asha Iman Veal. SAIC

2015_New_Course_Also Makes Art

Arts education focuses on making, grounded by looking/listening, and contextualized through reading, writing, and critical reflection. This course asks if studies in cultural practices that are based in criticality, for example curation, art history and arts management, can and/or should be contextualized by art making. Are forms of art knowledge accessible? Open to BA/MA participants and others who would like to pursue this question, this course offers support to students who want to include art making in their research experience, through group advising and critique, addressing individual projects and themes, including techniques and materials. As artists often engage theory to support their own creative practice, this course explores how art making can be integrated with other professional/theoretical practices in the arts. SAIC

2015_New_Course_Media Futures

Excitement abounds in museum contexts to employ digital media to preserve and record resources, create new user interfaces, remote access and smart didactics, support and
expand scholarship through effective databases, connect with audiences of different abilities, develop new approaches to metrics, update marketing and development tools and strategies, including social networking, and also to present new media artwork in appropriate ways. Those complex concerns, discussed most recently under the heading of Digital Heritage, are unfolding within the larger framework of Electronic Cultural Policy. The development of national information regulatory systems like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and other, global efforts to further expand legislation that supports digital rights management technologies are setting copyright driven creative industries at odds with the cultural democracy museums seek to enable as part of their mission. Through lectures, discussions and critical readings, accompanied by student driven administrative and artistic hands-on projects where appropriate, this course will explore an environment in which the development of artistic and institutional mediascapes, including abilities to sample and create mashups, is predicated on the preservation of consumer autonomy. I recruited Shawn Decker to co-teach this course, and he significantltly contributed material. In its first year, the course was awarded the opportunity to create a self-titled exhibition at the Sullivan Galleries. Through the ATS Department’s resources, a second venue was made available at the Bloomingdale’s Building 6th floor exhibition space.

Media Futures will be an exhibition at the Sullivan Galleries that will explore the many ways in which media intersects with fine art and other contexts of creative output and changes the way museums and other cultural institutions think about presentation. Media art emphasizes continual reinvention, innovation, and complex global collaborations across various media platforms. Constant reconfiguration of relationships between artist, technician, designer, presenter, funder and audience have become the norm for much media-based work. Curated and created by students of the team-taught graduate seminar of the same name, the show will follow the interests of young media art practitioners, curators, and theorists into the future threads of media art and design practice. SAIC

2012_Study Trip_Course_The Baltic Triangle

We will gain inside views into the complex art ecologies that have evolved in four closely neighboring, but very differently situated locations. Nordic cultural policies highly subsidize culture and provide strong artist support. Worldly Stockholm, Sweden, where the study trip starts, boasts a flourishing art market and cultural institutions of international calibre that also have to adapt to emerging, more entrepreneurial European Cultural Policy mandates and a recent, political shift to the right. We will hear first hand from artists, economists and administrators. An overnight ferry trip brings us from there to Helsinki, Finland, where we will conduct a one-day seminar with doctoral students in the arts in one of the most cutting edge programs in Europe, and meet key players in both art and design organizations. Helsinki has been designated “World City of Design” for 2012, and we will be able to contrast the exposure that brings with the experiences made in Tallinn, Estonia, a Cultural Capital 2011, to where we will undertake a two day excursion by ferry from Helsinki. Estonia gained independence after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the European Union in 2004, part of a complex legacy we will try to make legible. Departing by train from Helsinki’s famous Eliel Saarinen designed station, we will travel to our final destination, St. Petersburg, Russia. There, contemporary art is less visible, its presentation the hobby of the super rich, while traditional institutions are reinventing themselves in the post-soviet context, evidenced also by the ongoing expansion of the Hermitage Museum with its partially contested holdings. We will also explore international cooperations here, in collaboration with the ProArte Foundation and CEC Artslink. Co-taught with Nick Lowe. SAIC

2012_New_Course_Mapping the Artworld

Far from being isolated in their studios, artists need to develop an extended understanding of the histories and socio-political environments that have informed and drive current trends and policy developments in public, private and alternative arts institutions, among them galleries, museums, auction houses, commissioning and funding agencies, schools, professional associations, residency sites and publications as well as collectors and other publics. The goal is to gain an analytical overview and communication skills that allow artists to critically act within that context, and to be empowered to shape the very institutions that frame production and presentation of artwork. SAIC

2012_Core_Course_Curatorial Practices

Students in this class will develop and select their own roles to join in and support the production of all aspects of the exhibition The Hairy Blob, in collaboration with Hyde Park Art Center staff, including programming, educational materials, marketing, installation support and more.

Curated by Adelheid Mers, this exhibition has many moving parts. It focuses on how artists visualize time and will run at the Hyde Park Art Center from April 22 to July 29, 2012, presenting video, mobile sculpture, drawing, changing installations, dance and audio performance work in the first floor galleries and on the video façade. Additional works and commentary will be featured in the 'asteroid belt' online component, reconfigured weekly throughout the exhibition by invited writers and other contributors, and serving as a depository afterwards.

For this course, much of the work will have to happen in teams outside of class time, particularly in the weeks immediately before the opening, with class sessions serving as check in moments with each other, HPAC staff, artists and other participants. SAIC

2010_New_Course_Ethics of Accumulation and Distribution

Through case studies, this course will identify and evaluate historic and contemporary narratives that impact flows of objects through local, national and global contexts, including public and private collections, museums, archives, alternative and temporary settings. Issues of authorship, ownership, access and policy formulation will be read through the lens of discourse analysis. Goals are to question players’ responsibilities to peers and constituencies and to frame responsibilities for the presentation, interpretation and preservation of artifacts. Students are expected to participate in and to lead discussions, and to complete either a critical study or a related project. SAIC

2010_New_Course_Curatorial Models - Experimental Contexts

In this course, students will survey, analyze and develop experimental curatorial models. Discussion will include actual and virtual, local, national and international curatorial practices that have the capability to shift or occur outside of institutional boundaries. Students will have the opportunity to propose, develop, critically back up, and explore experimental models. Experimentation may revolve around participants' roles, location, materiality, media and technology, spatial and temporal extension, funding approaches, aesthetic, social and political criticality and other topics. Work resulting from this course may be a critical study, a plan, a grant application, projects in progress, fully implemented concepts, or a combination of those options. SAIC

2009_New_Course_Complementary Practices

This course pairs MA and MFA candidates to establish a forum in which modes of research that course participants have developed in their studio, academic and administrative practices are examined and compared. Potential intersections will be addressed through self-generated, collaborative projects that may include, but are not limited to exhibition proposals, archives, catalogs or documentaries. The goal here is not to place the MA/MFA orientations as oppositional but to create an intensely complementary and interdependent professional endeavor that may impact future practice.

Course Structure: Students are expected to read and discuss assigned texts, write and discuss a professional statement, develop and participate in group-work, and develop a group project that will be assessed in weeks 12 and 13 of the course. Each student will keep individual lab notes. Lab notes A should reference the experience of developing a project and relevant course readings. Lab notes B will be the foundation for a final report that assesses the experience of working across specialties. A report will be submitted by each participant, to be presented on the last day of class. Dan Devening was invited to co-teach this course. As part of the course, each student was provided with a personal diagram of their mode of practice. The group project the course developed was an exhibition event, "Object Symposium". A materials collection related to the event was deposited in the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection at SAIC.

Object Symposium Video:

2009_New_Course_Art Economies

Creative Industries discourses posit artists’ work as model of entrepreneurism in support of a greater realm of design that produces value-added commodities through information technologies. Developed in the late1990’s after cultural critique had identified pedagogical, social and political uses of the arts throughout the 70’s and 80’s, this move completes a full turn away from the traditional “art-for-art’s-sake” framework indicative of high culture, towards an understanding of culture as resource. The valuation of art worlds, works and practices shifts depending on the framework evoked, leading to market, community and/or resistance inflected rhetorics. This seminar will attempt to untangle the strands. SAIC

2008_Core_Course_Departmental Colloquia

A course that invites visiting speakers, to connect to core curricular topics. SAIC

2008_Core_Course_Arts Organizations in Society

This course offers a foundation in contemporary theories of cultural policy while offering strategies for re-thinking the possibilities of arts administration. A central objective of the course is to develop an understanding of the mission and operation of different arts organizations in the context of society’s structures and needs. Cultural policy in the US, along with other national models, is critically analyzed. Current debates in a variety of disciplines touching on the production, administration, and circulation of culture are explored as a way to begin to define the ethical positions of cultural display and reception. SAIC

2007_New_Course_Diagrams in Art and Activism

Diagrams as forms of communication, as tools of multi-modal reasoning, and as artistic strategy are central to this seminar. This semester only, students will have the opportunity to create a course related exhibition at Gallery 2, and to participate in the exhibition in any self-selected role, for example as artist, as curator, or as writer. Please be aware that a significant effort and extra time will be required. You are expected to participate in the creation of the exhibition, to read and discuss assigned readings, and to prepare a final paper/report on a topic of your choice that builds on your exhibition involvement.

The students titled the exhibition they conceptualized and curated "Forks, Tables, Napkins". SAIC

2007_New_Course_Art as Research

This course will examine how forms of artistic research may contribute to, interpret, use or transform scientific methods and/or technologies. It will consider art making through the lens of Consciousness Studies, addressing the relations of making and thinking, of language, metaphor, perception and imagination. It will outline how visual and literal skills along with intuitive and logical approaches are traditionally perceived to be distributed within fields of endeavor and have been valued, emphasized and combined in different ways. The intent of the course is to develop contemporary, working models for creative practices.
Course Structure:
Each student will select a research topic and determine a research method, keep a lab book, and will post one reading assignment for the class. A research paper is due on the last day of the course. In addition, as outlined in the schedule, each student will assist one other student with his/her research. Assistance may consist in helping to keep the required lab book, giving feedback, finding resources, and other tasks that may arise from the nature of the selected project. Presentations may be made jointly, but the lead researcher is responsible for the final paper. For sessions 6-13, students will adopt one of the assigned texts to help lead a discussion. SAIC

2006_New_Course_Artist Roles in 21st Century Practice

Artist/philosopher/yoga practitioner Adrian Piper states in her text 'On Wearing Three Hats': "My variety of professional activities are all different, equally essential expressions of one self. " This course explores how one can sustain multiple practices within and across the arts by recognizing established and/or instituting innovative frameworks that support one's needs. Examples of individuals or groups who have successfully combined art practice with work as administrators, critics, curators, designers, editors, educators, or with other professional practices will be introduced and critically examined. Students' experiences and aspirations will serve as the foundation for course projects and additional research.

Course Structure and Requirements:
1. Course members are expected to give introductory (10-15 min) talks about their work in class. Please consider how to present everything that is of consequence to your professional interests and pursuits in a condensed form. The format should be an artist talk/professional presentation.
2. Throughout the semester, each course participant should ‘adopt’ at least three of the listed readings to summarize and help lead a conversation about in class. Up to two students may share adopted texts and moderation of the associated conversations, if desired. Of course, still try to read as many of the other posted texts as possible!
To adopt texts, please place your name next to the text listing on the course wiki (communally editable website),also available from the “links” tab of this course on the portal.
3. To facilitate the exploration of students’ multi-faceted approaches to their areas of work, we will create expanding visual maps. Maps (sketches, timelines, diagrams) may be prepared at home and/or in class, in tandem with discussing them. Rolls of wide paper are useful for this.
4. Students will also conduct an individually selected research project on particular artists, groups, trends or exhibitions related to the course topic that results in a paper to be presented to the class. To facilitate research, one informal progress reports is requested. Final papers are due on the last day of class. SAIC

2005_New_Course_Art on Location: Biennials as Site

Since the mid-1980s, numerous international biennials as well as roving festivals and conferences have emerged in addition to established locations that include Venice, Sao Paulo, Sydney, and Kassel. This burgeoning activity coincides with a period of intense artistic investigation and engagement with site, temporary modes of working, cultural questions, and direct interaction with constituencies. Through readings, discussions and with guest lecturers, this course will look at how these international venues have been approached and engaged by curators, artists, and audiences. Student projects will be developed out of a given curatorial premise through research on a specific locale's culture and history within the framework of critical engagement with local and global issues.

Adopt a Biennial: each student researches and presents one Biennial, as far as possible including curatorial concept, artist approaches and impact on the community.Selected artist projects: each student selects one artist project, researches and presents that artist’s response to the exhibition environment. Develop a Biennial for Chicago: Develop a curatorial concept for Chicago as the site of a Biennial. Collaborations are possible. Develop a Biennial contribution: each student sketches out a contribution to a Biennial of his/her choice. Collaborations are possible. The 2005 iteration of this course included participation in an international student project at the 2005 Istanbul Biennial. SAIC

2005_New_Course_Applied Aesthetics

This interdisciplinary, advanced research seminar was designed with the intent to study aesthetic theory with an immediate view to examine its applicability and usefulness in relation to the work produced by the seminar participants. Readings cover a broad range of Aesthetic Theory.

Four assignments need to be completed: 1. Each student will present his/her studio work in a 15 minute, informal introduction. 2. Each student is expected to select one of the supplied readings to prepare in depth, to present it concisely, and to lead a brief discussion. 3. Beginning in session 6, students will present their “positions.” Each 45 minute presentation will show how the student sees his/her work tied into a theoretical context. This is an opportunity to raise questions and to discuss specific interests. (Examples for position themes: “How I see my work in the context of Dewey’s “Art as Experience”, “How Feminist Theory supports my studio approach.”) A presentation of the selected theory should be followed by the application of the theory to the studio work. To support the presentation, each student is required to assign at least one reading to the class. 4. A paper is due on the last day of class. SAIC

2004_New_Course_The Telematic Society - Media, Communication, and Ethics

This class introduces the thought of renowned media theorist, Vilém Flusser. Flusser was born in Prague in 1920, emigrated to Brazil by way of London in 1940, where he took up writing and published the books Language and Reality, The Twentieth Century, and History of the Devil before he became professor for the philosophy of communication at the Fundação Penteado (FAAP) in São Paulo in 1964, and at the Escola de Arte Dramática and the Escola de Superiore de Cinema in 1967. He was an advisor to the São Paulo Biennial, lectured in Europe and the US, and moved to France in 1975, where he collaborated with the artist Louis Bec on the book Vampyrotheuthis Infernalis, an account of humanity from the point of view of a mollusc, and with Karl Gestner on projects regarding color. Until his death in 1991, he continued to teach, lecture, and publish. Further titles include Gestures, Communicology, Media Culture, Into the Universe of Technical Imagery, and For a Philosophy of Photography. A sufficient number of his texts have recently been translated into English, to make it possible to offer this course as an overview over this prolific writer’s work. Deeply influenced by Martin Buber and fluent in the history of western thought, Flusser offers an acute assessment of art, media, and communication from the vantage point of an international migrant. While introducing his thought, artwork created in response to his work is examined. SAIC

2004_New_Course_Statements, Grants, Proposals

This class associates training in professional practices with an overview of social, political and philosophical contexts of the artist’s profession. You are expected to read and summarize the assigned texts, participate in discussions, introduce your artwork to the class, and write several artist statements. In addition, we will complete two grant applications and will create one mock jury in class. SAIC

2004_New_Course_Developing Project Proposals

RFPs, requests for proposals, are regularly issued when artwork needs to be placed in new public buildings as part of the percent-for-art program requirements that many states, counties and municipalities have adopted. At budgets between $10.000 and $250.000, the application process is challenging, while the income that can be derived is significant. This class will serve to research RFP's and to develop one or more full proposals according to the guidelines of the projects selected by each student from published material. Students may work individually or collaboratively. The class will open with a discussion of critical issues and then look at the participants’ work to assess where development into public projects makes sense. Students will study RFPs from a wide range of sources, select the project they will pursue and research its context. This will include extensive exercises to learn how to write cover letters and statements, the research of community and architectural contexts, research of art materials, and the creation of a schedule and a budget, in short, how to fulfill all the formal and legal requirements of the RFP, how to develop a language to interact with the public, with commissions, architects and engineers, and how to take their demands into account when revisions are requested. A field trip to the Chicago Public Art Office will give an overview over Chicago’s Percent for Art Program selection process, and a visit with the principals of a Chicago architecture firm that specializes in green architecture and sustainable design has been scheduled. Each student will create at least one detailed plan and present a model that will be critiqued by a visiting curator/art consultant. Textbook for the class is “Dialogues in Public Art” by Tom Finkelpearl, who was the Director of New York City’s Percent for Art Program from 1990 to 1996. The book presents a concise overview of changing attitudes toward the city as the site of public art and addresses controversies in Public Art, experiments in Public Art as Architecture and Urban Planning, dialogues on Dialogue-Based Public Art Projects, and Public Art for Public Health. SAIC

2004_New_Course_Celebration and Festivity

Settings for public, communal events are carnivals and parades, bonfires, amusement parks and dance clubs, parties and flash mobs. Events may be innovative or traditional, present challenges to power or be designed to manipulate, be spontaneous outbursts or ritual ceremonies. These structures are echoed in the art world by situationist interventions, fluxus happenings, public performances and performance art, tactical media manifestations, orchestrated audience participation like Pierre Huyghe’s “Streamside Day Celebration”, and art festivals like “Burning Man.” Many of the contemporary works challenge boundaries between life and art, or between art and politics. What all these public transgessions of the everyday have in common is that they are partially unpredictable because they tap into the abandonment and energies of crowds. This class will assess celebrations, festivals and their settings as critical and affirmative functions within societies, and as subject and element of the creative process in contemporary artwork. Readings will include Elias Canetti’s “Crowds and Power.” We will extensively consider artwork that addresses the above and will give significant room to discuss seminar participants’ related projects and experiences. SAIC

2002_New_Course_Authorship and Identity

Driven by artists and theorists, the role of the artist is currently being reconstructed to embrace concepts of diversity, hybridity and responsibility to audiences. These adjustments are based in part on a re-evaluation of concepts of identity. In today's global, post-modern society, we work in and through communities that interact and thus reshape each other. Traditional Western philosophy assumes that societies are composed of stable, autonomous individuals. This position is opposed by claims that selves can be realized only in and through communities, and that we do not possess identities outside of the social matrix. For today’s artists/authors/designers, who may work individually or in collectives, with or without an audience in mind, it is useful to acquire a working knowledge of theories of identity that underlie practice, as they affect the personal satisfaction as well as the scope of productivity of artists in their respective societal contexts. We will seek for evidence of the implementation of concepts of identity in work by historic and contemporary artists and curators from varied cultural contexts, while trying to develop working strategies for the future. In group critiques and guided individual explorations students will have the opportunity to plumb and compare their own approaches within a critical discourse. SAIC

2002_Core_Course_Visual Communication University of Chicago

2001_Core_Course_Figure Drawing University of Chicago

2001_Core_Course_Modern/Postmodern Survey

This course surveys late nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. Basic formal, contextual, and technical developments are discussed in relation to socioeconomic, intellectual, and cultural trends.Emphasis is placed on theoretical and critical issues. SAIC


This course was requested as a Graduate Elective Seminar under the title above, by Art History Chair, Simon Anderson. This interdisciplinary class attempts to integrate readings in the history of ideas with concepts of space and its relation to matter. We will begin to map out the realm of installation art by assessing the relations of objects to their dedicated environments: devotional objects in places of worship, statuary in parks and gardens, interiors and ornamentation in architecture, leading to a survey of the beginnings of contemporary installation art with Constructivism and Dada. ... The rest of the syllabus was lost to data corruption. SAIC

1999_Core_Course_Fundamentals of 2-d Design Columbia College


The course is divided into four thematic sections that address fundamental areas of an artist’s experience: ‘Work and Leisure’, ‘Quality and Taste’, ‘Who is Original’, and ‘Choice’. Each section consists of lectures, readings and discussions, sculptural assignments, introductions to materials and techniques, and writing assignments. Many of the School’s resources will be introduced. Students are expected to complete all assignments and keep a sketchbook in which ideas are developed.

A: Work and Leisure (4 sessions) This section focuses on environmental awareness and collaboration, emphasizing questions of play and seriousness in the making of art. Wood, plaster, and fabric are introduced.

B: Quality and Taste (4 sessions) This section focuses on the creation of objects and questions of aesthetic judgment. It offers a sculptural assignment in two parts. Digital cameras and documentation concerns are introduced.

Assignment Part 1: Make one beautiful and one ugly object, using materials of your choice. Special consideration should be given to the way the objects will be displayed.
Assignment Part 2: Make the beautiful object ugly and the ugly object beautiful. Is it feasible? What are the obstacles? How does display change perceptions of beauty?
C: Who is Original (3 sessions) This assignment introduces research skills and notions of collegiality and continuity within the history of art. Individual advising takes place. Artist books are introduced.

D: Choice (4 sessions) In this section the theme of an artist’s individuality and the responsibility to develop it are approached. Students work individually and learn to create a project schedule. SAIC

1998_New_Course_Theory and Practice

I no longer have a course description, but this outline survived:

1. 01/__ Whorf and Alphabet lecture
2. 02/05 10 minute introductory studio visits/slide shows
3. 02/12 Marshall McLuhan: visual and auditory space
4. 02/19 David Abram: Ecology
5. 02/25 preliminary statement readings
6. 03/05 perspective and virtual reality
7. 03/12 Fuller video
8. 03/19 Plato, Aristotle and artist’s texts
9. 04/02 tba
10. 04/09 studio visits
11. 04/16 no class - critique week
12. 04/23 Dewey: Art as Experience + Irwin
13. 04/30 Art and Science
14. 05/07 Michael Polanyi
15. 05/14 20 min studio visits with final statement readings

1. Whorf, Benjamin Lee; Language,Thought and Reality, Cambridge University Press, 1989
The relation of habitual thought and behavior to language pp.134-159
2. McLuhan, Marshal, and Powers, Bruce; The Global Village, Oxford, 1989
3. Abram, David; The Spell of the Sensuous; New York, 1996, ‘Philosophy on the Way to Ecology, pp.31-72
4. Fuller, Buckminster, R.; Utopia or Oblivion, New York, 1969,‘The World Game’, pp.157-161
5. Robert Motherwell - ‘The Modern Painter’s World’, pp 635-638
in: Art in Theory 1900-1990, ed. Charles Harrison, Paul Wood; Blackwell, Oxford and Cambridge
6. Mircea Eliade, Sacred Space and Making the World pp.20 - 65
in: The Sacred and the Profane; San Diego, New York, London, (1957) 1987
7. Ross, Stephen David, ed.; Art and its Significance - An Anthology of Aesthetic Theory; Albany, 1984
8. John Dewey, Art as Experience, pp.204-222
9. Plato, Republic II+III, pp.9-32; in: Ross, Stephen David, ed.; Art and its Significance - An Anthology of Aesthetic Theory; Albany, 1984;
10. Edgar Wind,The Fear of Knowledge, pp. 47-62; in: Art and Anarchy, Northwestern University Press, 1967;
11. David Smith - Economic Support of Art in America Today, p.663-665 in: Art in Theory 1900-1990, ed. Charles Harrison, Paul Wood;
Blackwell, Oxford and Cambridge, (1992)
12. Donald Kuspit, Idiosyncratic Identities; Cambridge Univ Press, 1996
Introduction, pp.1-7; ‘The Short, happy life of the work of art’, and ‘The End of Creative Imagination’, pp.48-63
13. Lygia Clark; Introduction, p13-15; Fundacio Antonio Tapies, Barcelona
14. Helio Oiticica; pp. 12-13, 34-37, 42-44, 85-88, 93-96, 100, 103-105;
in: Brett, Guy, et al, ed.; Rotterdam + Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1992
15. Chipp, Herschel B., ed.; Theories of Modern Art, A Source Book by Artists and Critics, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1968, Naum Gabo, ‘The realistic manifesto’, pp.326-329
15. Ross, Stephen David, ed.; Art and its Significance - An Anthology of Aesthetic Theory; Albany, 1984. Leo Tolstoy, ‘What is Art’, pp.178- 181
16. Ross, Stephen David, ed.; At and its Significance - An Anthology of Aesthetic Theory; Albany, 1984. Sol LeWitt, ‘Sentences on Conceptual Art’, pp 691-692
17. Irwin, Robert, Being and Circumstance- Notes toward a Conditional Art, Los Angeles, 1985 ‘Change’, pp.1-3
18. Polanyi, Michael; Meaning; Chicago, 1975, ‘Personal Knowledge’, pp. 22-45


This class combines group technical instruction in clay, plaster and wood as well as assigned readings and discussions with two individualized sculpture assignments accompanied by the writing of one final statement/manifesto. The class is divided into two sections. A:What is Space? Sculpture is commonly designated as 3-d, but historically space has been perceived, defined and represented in many different ways. The first section opens with an overview over quotes spanning 4000 years regarding concepts of space in the fields of art, mythology, philosophy and physics, leading to an individual assessment by each student of his/her preconceptions and interests. From those interests individual sculpture projects focusing on the representation of space will be developed and carried out. In the framework of those projects, traditional sculptural techniques including modeling in clay will be introduced as well as demonstrated. Readings will include Whorf,  Abram, McLuhan and Dewey, dealing with the connections of language, writing and perception, environmental awareness, conceptions of visual and auditory space and the relation of artist, viewer and art object. Group critiques will close this section. B: The Impossible Project. The often intimidating prospect of realizing technically complex projects is a part of working in the realm of sculpture. The second assignment is called the “Impossible Project” to help overcome this intimidation by embracing mistakes as well as utilizing the opportunity of working on a model scale while still thinking “big”. This section will open with the presentation of a video on Buckminster Fuller, which emphasizes his daring thought beyond the boundaries of the obviously feasible. Fuller insists on the importance errors and mistakes have played in his development. Following a discussion, individual sculptural projects will be developed, carried out and critiqued. Northwestern University

1998_Core_Environmental Arts

”We shall never understand the natural environment until we see it as a living organism” (Paul Brooks)

This class combines group technical instruction as well as assigned readings/discussions with two individual and one collaborative sculpture assignments. One weekly session is dedicated to readings and discussions, the second session is dedicated to studio work and individual advising. The writing of an artist's statement is required, and the collaborative project will be accompanied by a written research project. The class emphasizes the student’s ability to develop themes from careful observation and attempts to encourage a strong sense of self-motivation through individual responsibility in each aspect of the projects. Its structure is based partially on the assumption that students learn much from observing and discussing each other’s varied efforts. It seeks to provide tools for the sculptural as well as verbal articulation of artistic goals.

We will complete a 3-part project:
1. Create work related to texts on environment/ecology(4 weeks), 2. then investigate viewers reactions and perceptions regarding your work. Introduce your results to the group and from the conclusions drawn create a group project: “A work for the viewer” (2 weeks), 3. individually amend your first work according to the results of your investigation. You may continue to work in small groups if you wish to consolidate projects. (3 weeks)

Partially recovevered syllabus. Northwestern University

1998_Core_Course_Beginning Drawing

Assignments in this class are laid out to allow for a widening understanding of the scope of drawing, moving through the dimensions from point to line/plane to space to time. Students will learn how to use drawing as a preparatory as well as a final medium, placing applications within historical context while becoming familiar with the cycle of conception/observation/abstraction as a preparation for the development of an individual artisticic language. Northwestern University


This 4 week workshop within the BAFA program sculpture segment was designed to shift the focus of artistic investigation to the role light plays in the fields of art. It combined studio work with reading assignments and discussions focused on the philosophical context of perception. Alfred University, NY

1996/97_Core_Course_Sculpture 1 Illinois State University

1996/97_Core_Course_Sculpture 2 Illinois State University

1996/97_Core_Course_Sculpture 3 Illinois State University

1996_Core_Course_Beginning Sculpture

Credit for this course will be based on thoughtful, creative and timely completion of all projects (reading, writing, sculptural), development of ideas in a sketchbook, participation in discussions and critiques, and attendance. Each class begins with an 1 1/2 - 2 hour lecture/discussion session. Readings are required.

We will conduct three Sculpture Projects: Project 1: Human scale: reach, horizon, field, gesture, mark, track, trace, print, cast
Project 2: Monumental scale: model of (at the moment or principally) impossible projects Project 3: a) determine your scale/determine your own project in extension of the previous two, b) argue your stance: artist’s statement or manifesto. SAIC

Courses taught at the American Academy of Art, Chicago, 1994-1996

In a video created in 1996, students manifest Guignol/Kasperle/Punch folk traditions in presenting their learning experience.