Public-making in Contemporary Practices

Art History 6900 “Public-making in Contemporary Practices”
Welch School of Art & Design, Georgia State University
Spring, 2017

I was thrilled to design and offer this graduate seminar for the Art History department in the Spring semester of 2017.

Rationale

This course reflects the growing body of scholarship and curatorial attention being given to publishing as an artistic practice

For example, Dushko Petrovich at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Arts Journalism program is offering a similar course entitled, “Publishing as Creative Practice.”

Triple Canopy offers their “Publishing Intensive” which asks the following:
“How have artists, writers, and designers used the pages of magazines and books as sites of and material for experimentation? [….] What are the politics of access and identity associated with online public forums and media?”

Antoine Lefebvre created his La Bibliothèque Fantastique as part of his practice-based PhD in fine arts, which he defended in 2014.

Gwen Allen’s The Magazine (MIT Press/White Chapel Gallery, 2016) “contextualizes the current condition and potential of the artist’s magazine, surveying the art worlds it has created and then superseded [….]”

Annette Gilbert’s Publishing as Artistic Practice (Sternberg Press, 2016) suggests that, “In the face of a changing media landscape, institutional upheavals, and discursive shifts in the legal, artistic, and political fields, concepts of ownership, authorship, work, accessibility, and publicity are being renegotiated. The field of publishing not only stands at the intersection of these developments but is also introducing new ruptures.”

During the summer of 2017 I will participate (as a part of the continent. Editorial Collective) in the “Publishing Sphere—Ecosystems of Contemporary Literatures” events at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. “At The Publishing Sphere scholars, writers, artists, and representatives of initiatives will investigate the different locations of contemporary literatures between an abstract sphere and a material space.”

Connecting the classroom to the community

Before I was invited to join the faculty of the Welch School of Art & Design I worked for several Atlanta-area nonprofit arts organizations. While working in our community I saw a need to connect local university students to the professional arts organizations in the city.

This seminar is my first attempt at creating opportunities for my students to establish professional relationships with our city’s vibrant arts community.

I was fortunate to have a variety of guest lecturers:
Lauri Stallings, founding artist of glo.
Dayle Bennett, creative director for Center for Civic Innovation.
Robert Witherspoon and Hannah Leathers, Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.
Victoria Camblin, editor and art director for Art Papers.
Shannon Turner, founder of StoryMuse.
Susannah Darrow, co-founder of Burnaway and executive director of ArtsATL.

How do I assess whether or not learning is happening?

I am committed to creating the best environment I can for my students to learn. Toward that goal I deploy several instruments for assessing student learning in my classrooms. Here is my syllabus.

The typical end-of-semester student assessment of their professor is an insufficient tool for measuring student learning and does little to demonstrate the instructor’s efficacy as a teacher.

I structure each of my courses to gather information from my students about their learning. I do this by establishing a base line of each student’s prior knowledge of the subject (here is my prior knowledge tool), from this instrument I get a sense of how familiar each of my students are with the subject matter.

Close to the middle of the semester I schedule, for each of my courses, a Group Instructional Feedback Technique (GIFT) session from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. I’ve found these sessions very useful for opening better communication between my students and I. Frequently I am told by my students that these sessions demonstrate to them that I care about their learning and they find this motivating. I also find these sessions helpful for identifying adjustments to the coursework to maximize the interest of the students and this aids my ability to teach the materials.

At the end of the semester I ask my students to complete a post course assessment tool so that I can see what the students believe they’ve learned from the course. This instrument is essentially the same tool used at the beginning of the semester, updated to reflect the end of the semester.

Critical Thinking and Writing

This seminar is a writing-intensive one. My students are required to read and respond every week. I also ask the students, at the beginning of the semester, to write a brief opinion essay outlining what they believe marks a publication. I ask them to revisit this question at the end of the semester, so that I can assess the impact of the materials covered in class.

This is also a practice-based class, so I ask my students to generate a proposal outlining a public-making activity they would like to manifest here in Atlanta. Here is my grant proposal project assignment. The students generate ideas together as well as in conference with me. They then present their proposals as a final project during the last days of our class.