Fall 2013 Curriculum

Fall 2013 Curriculum

Public spaces like parks, plazas, and city streets all serve as places where people can gather to talk, play, and protest. Since the creation of the first cities, public spaces have been an important part of our democracy. In New York City, Union Square Park has been used for rallies and meetings, as well as to protest government policies. Today, the majority of the public spaces in NYC are privately owned and so restrict groups of people from gathering. Artists have always created art for public spaces, and today, many artists are putting their work in public and reclaiming public space to comment on various issues that affect our communities. Students in this class will reflect on the differences between public art and activist public art and experiment with public art forms and media to address social issues and concerns.

Our cities are in constant flux - old buildings are torn down and new ones are built, long time residents leave, new residents move in. Increasingly city planners are working more closely with real estate agencies and businesses and many neighborhoods in NYC are rapidly changing. Gentrification displaces poorer residents with high rents, higher taxes, and more expensive services and stores. Artists play a role in gentrification by moving into neighborhoods where the rent is cheaper, but they also comment on issues of gentrification and the changing city through their work. In this class, students will explore how and why neighborhoods are changing and who the stakeholders are. Students will learn about the work of contemporary artists who address issues of gentrification and urban change in order to consider their own visions and aspirations for the neighborhoods and the city where they live.

While the existence and effects of global warming continues to be debated in the news, it is obvious that our cities are being affected by stronger and more devastating weather. From Hurricane Sandy in 2012 to the tornado that struck Brooklyn in 2011, severe weather is changing city life and raising questions about our personal and social responsibilities. What is global warming and how have artists responded to climate change and other environmental concerns in their work? In this class, students will look at how our ecological footprint is changing the planet and how art can investigate environmental issues, draw attention to ecological concerns, and perhaps propose new ideas and even solutions for the future.

Food is a basic human need and right. While we used to produce our own food, we now rarely see where or how our food reaches our plates. From cafeterias to five star restaurants what are the issues that influence where food comes from, how it is produced, and who eats it? Many artists today are looking at food production and consumption in order to propose alternative systems for generating, sharing, and representing food. Other artists are using art as a means to research and raise awareness about the food we eat, as well as to discuss ethnic and national conflicts in various parts of the world. In this class, students will have the opportunity to find about a wide range of artistic projects related to food and food issues, and make their own work that explores the intersections between food issues, social awareness, and art.

Who controls money in our society? The recent financial crisis in the United States caused many people to lose their homes and jobs. The differences between a small percentage of rich people (1%) who control our economy and the vast majority who struggle to make a living (99%) has led many artists to comment on our financial institutions, corporations, capitalist structures and the relationships to how we live our lives within those systems. Students will explore what role money plays in their lives and in the lives of people in their communities as well as how money is connected to larger financial institutions and global systems. Students will also learn about a range of artistic projects that address how money functions in our economy and create their own work exploring the influences of money on our daily spending habits, personal rituals, and lives.