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Interdisciplinary Initiatives Course Archive

Fall 2017 Courses

IART 3395/6395 Community Engaged Art
Rick Lowe (School of Art)

This Social and Community Engaged Art (SCEA) Part 1 is an introductory course to the emerging fields of social and community engaged art, creative placemaking, social practice, community art, and other related modes of work that seek to bridge art with social and/or community development. The course is part theoretical and part practical field work. As this is an emerging field, the class will research and investigate social and community engaged artists, projects, and organizations. We will explore how art functions in the context of community development and social structures as a value to the field of art and the broader society.


IART 3395/6395 Collective Creation
Matt Chapman & Justin Lucero (School of Theatre & Dance)

This interdisciplinary course will explore the practices of collective creation as articulated by various international groups including Brecht’s Epic Theatre, Colombia’s La Candelaria and Teatro Experimental de Cali, Perú’s the Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, the United States’ Teatro Campesino and Culture Clash and others, to explore notions of diversity, belonging, equity, and community, culminating in a performance that addresses contemporary issues such as immigration, nationality, race, and the American Dream. The course will tap into the wealth of backgrounds and specialties of those participating in discussion and creation and therefore we encourage cross-disciplinary enrollment from among undergraduate- and graduate-level students from across the arts.


IART 3395/6395 Spatial Activism: Houston
Jasleen Sarai (College of Architecture)

This course explores the relationship between spatiality and politics. With Houston as a basepoint, students will discover and examine the urban, industrial, rural and suburban spaces that Houston is made of through readings, discussions and neighborhood tours. Students will learn to think critically about the relationship between people and space, politics and neighborhoods, and the effects created by inequalities that are manifested in various geographical settings and scales. The course will consider topics such as land development, preservation, gentrification, public vs. private space, and race and culture within neighborhoods. Special focus will be put on site-specificity and artistic interventions. Students will create individual work related to their disciplines, as well as collaborative responses to the various conditions that Houston puts forth. 


IART 3395 Text in the Landscape
Fiona McGettigan (School of Art)

This interdisciplinary course will look at text-based works from the arena of public art and environmental graphic design locally, nationally, and internationally. As a studio focus we will look at typographic form and history, issues of typographic scale, dimensionality, and materials and through readings and discussions we will address issues of language, meaning, and context. We will create a series of projects that are in proposal and model form, as well as temporary site installation(s).


IART 3395 You Are Here: Space and Place
Dana Kroos (Creative Writing Program)

While “space” can be defined as the physical parameters of a geographic location, “place” is defined as an area that is used for a specific purpose so that it is endowed with meaning for a person or group. In the last two decades the concept of space vs. place has been widely researched in fields including literature, social science, political science, environmental science, art, architecture, and design as people ask the question: what makes a space a place? Why? For whom? Many of the social and political issues that arise in consideration of space vs. place have become central to studies in the arts: nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, cultural globalization, gender and sexuality, urbanization, digital cultures, and environmentalism and ecopoetics. In this class you will begin a mastery of storytelling and fiction writing through the broader discussion of how space and place are defined in literature, music, visual art, performance and exhibition design. While the main focus of the course will be the basic elements of narrative craft (including voice, tense, character, point of view and plot), students will also have the opportunity to collaborate and to work on interdisciplinary modes of inquiry.



IART 3395/6395 Cargo and Carriers: Sites, Zones, Borders
Prof. Abinadi Meza (Director of Interdisciplinary Initiatives) with visiting artists and scholars CEPRO Music, Mariam Ghani, Ed Keller, Jacob Kirkegaard, Brandon Lamson, Jill Magid, Geoff Manaugh, Roberto Minervini, Nameless Sound, Jeff VanderMeer, and Eyal Weizman.

This interdisciplinary seminar explores spatial practices and projects engaging poetic as well as political sites, speculative worlds as well as concrete geographies, forms of spatial agency, interventions and crossings. The two central figures involved are 1) the carrier - someone or something who by choice or by accident crosses 2) a space, and intentionally or unintentionally brings something, leaves something behind, and/or carries something away from the space they cross. The carrier is an agent in this scenario (traveler, architect, artist, scientist, burglar, cartographer, virus, documentarian, writer, wanderer, refugee, smuggler), as is the space (site/zone/border). The space becomes an active agent as it intervenes, obstructs, populates, colonizes, infects or influences the carrier. We will pay particular attention to how both site and carrier can become cargo - how each can transform or release some thing as cargo that the other then carries/hosts/shelters/incubates/absorbs. We will also investigate the interfaces at work - the instruments, equipment, vehicles, apparatuses, etc. As planned as every expedition is, as intentional as the instruments are, there is always potential for accident or failure, and necessary improvisation. Cargoes and carriers both demonstrate fragility as well as durability, and variously outlast, resist, undermine, abandon or conjoin with each other.


IART 3395/6395 Diagrammatic Visualization in Art and Theory
Prof. Natilee Harren (Art History) with visiting artists and scholars Eric Alliez, Blake Rayne, and Matthew Ritchie.

What is a diagram? What role do diagrams play in the creation and manipulation of human knowledge? How are diagrams employed in creative disciplines (visual art, music, theater, dance, poetry, architecture, design), and what do these diagrams look like? What characterizes diagrammatic thinking? Guided by these questions, this exploratory seminar will survey and examine creative uses, definitions, and theories of the diagram from the early modern period to the present, with emphasis on cultural production in the 20th and 21st centuries. From Leonardo da Vinci and Copernicus to digital visualization after the internet, seminar participants will collaboratively construct a visual encyclopedia of diagrams as we engage a range of theoretical propositions about diagrams by thinkers and practitioners including C. S. Peirce, John Bender and Michael Marrinan, Frederik Stjernfelt, Gilles Deleuze, Éric Alliez, Rosalind Krauss, Lawrence and Anna Halprin, Hannah Higgins, Anthony Vidler, and Fredric Jameson, among many others. Seminar participants will collaborate with artist Matthew Ritchie in presenting a public performance-lecture in the atrium of the Philip Johnson-designed Hines College of Architecture building. Additionally, seminar participants’ research on diagrams will culminate in an exhibition on view at the School of Art’s Third Space Gallery.


IART 3395/6395 The Archival Impulse
Prof. Nick Flynn (Creative Writing) with visiting artists and scholars Regina Agu, Gabriel Martinez, Paula Matthusen, and Raphael Rubinstein.

 This project-based studio and seminar utilizes the Houston artist-run space Alabama Song as a laboratory to examine concepts and processes of the archive as both an imaginative as well as a generative space. Three organizing frameworks—time, sound, and space will be the lenses through which participants will examine questions of the archive. Participants will develop collaborations that will, in some ways, address these conceptual frameworks across various artistic practices including visual art, film, writing, sound, installation, and performance. Participants will perform, present and exhibit their work at Alabama Song, 2521 Oakdale Drive, Houston, TX 77004.