Monday, March 23, 2009

Greetings from University of New Mexico

Hi from UNM Art and Ecology 493/593, which includes Bill and Catherine (who have introduced themselves), and Molly the class’ graduate assistant soon to finish a master’s degree in fine arts sculpture. The students include a retired forest service supervisor, a student of photography, a student of sculpture and a student of landscape architecture. I don’t mean to pigeonhole the class by background or area of study, but to demonstrate that this is an interdisciplinary course. We come from different parts of not just UNM’s art department but of Albuquerque and the world, and our ages span sometimes as much as our circumstances. We meet weekly to discuss assigned readings of both art and ecological significance. Weekly topics include water (so imperative, layered, and controversial), history of ecology, cultural ecology, food, eco practice, mapping and walking. We respond, rant, question, contradict, extol and criticize. We can be cynical, direct, simple, childish, confident, obtuse, insecure and insightful when trying to get to the crux of – art and ecology, and ecological art. We review and critique our constructed responses to the readings. We wonder how what we do in this classroom can relate to provocations from somewhere on the web, let alone outside the classroom. Issues addressed provoke and arouse not just questions relating to the readings and of the classroom ebb and flow of discussion, but of concerns connected (and disconnected) to our lives, ourselves, and our creative processes. We meet for two hours a week, oftentimes longer because five minutes before the end of class is when the good conversation starts. Below is a week by week reading list with a sample of some of the art objects and images inspired by the readings.

Week One: Water
Childs Craig, “Phoenix Then and Now”, High Country News, April 16, 2007
Reisner, Marc, Cadillac Desert
Stegner, Wallace, The American West as Living Space, Living Dry.

Week Two: Water
Childs, Craig, The Secret Knowledge of Water
Irland, Basia, Water Library
SIMPARCH with Steve Rowell, Hydromancy, Cydlifiad (Confluence), Beckoning Cistern, Water Glass & Water Table, King Street Garden, Exchanger Fountain, Hudson River Purge

Week Three: History of Ecology
Kastner Jeffrey & Wallis, Brian, Land and Environmental Art
Smithson, Robert “Frederick Law Olmstead and the Dialectical Landscape”, Artforum, 1973, pp 62-68.
Mozingo, The Aesthetics of Ecological Design, Landscape Journal, 16:1 1997 pp. 46-59

Week Four:
Cultural Ecology

Mann, Charles, “1491”, Atlantic Monthly Vol 289, issue 3 pp. 41-53
Weatherford, Jack, Indian Givers
Tuan,Yi-Fu, Topophilia: a study of environmental perception, attitudes, and values

Week Five:
Cultural Ecology

Jackson, J. B., A Sense of Place, A Sense of Time
Leopold, Aldo, The Sand County Almanac, Thinking Like a Mountain.
Weisman, Alan, A World Without Us

Week Six:

Pollan, Michael, “Farmer in Chief”, New York Times Magazine, pp. 62-71, Oct. 12, 2008
Kingsolver, Barbara, Animal, Vegetable Miracle
Pollan Michael, Omnivore’s Dilemma
Kloppenburg, Jack, “Coming into the Foodshed”, Agriculture and Human Values, 13:3, 1966, p 33-42

No comments: