The interdisciplinary Art & Society Course is central to the mission of the Siena Art Institute (“SART”), and is required for all students.
The course allows students to develop substantive projects to further their portfolio development, and to have numerous opportunities to interact with a diverse array of artists, to deepen their understanding of contemporary art practices, and the various roles that artists can play in a broader social context.
Participants in the Fall 2019 Semester include:
The course is divided into three project units: the 3-week Introductory Project Unit, the 5-week Mid-Term Project Unit, and the 6-week Final Project Unit. Through the progression of these projects, students are guided through the production of a strong personal body of work, fostering their ongoing portfolio development.
Students’ work on their individual artistic projects is augmented by an exploration of the city of Siena and its surrounding territory as a complex historical and social setting to which students are asked to respond artistically. A variety of activities, including collaborative projects, research, visits to cultural/artistic spaces, and other locations in the local area, presentations from guest artists and creative professionals, and discussions of assigned readings contribute inspiration and context for students’ projects.
In the Art and Society course this semester, we will be working together to explore and be inspired by our surroundings here in Tuscany, and to consider how the dynamics of intercultural dialogue can impact our contemporary art practices. You will be guided through a series of projects to foster your ongoing portfolio development, receiving feedback about your work from your classmates, teachers, and our visiting artists. Excursions as well as reference materials such as book excerpts and articles will further enhance the development of your artistic projects during the semester.
There is an organized calendar of group critiques and individual advising sessions, to ensure that students are receiving constructive feedback from a variety of perspectives about their developing artistic projects. In this intimate and rich setting, the feedback opportunity for the students is exceptional.
Formal group critiques are held during the intro unit, the mid-term and at the end of the semester, during which all students will be present to offer constructive criticism to students regarding their work.
The course includes discussion of career development, offering students guidance as they embark on their careers as emerging artists.
As part of the Art and Society course, students will have opportunities to interact with our visiting artists. After our intro unit, every Tuesday evening at 6 pm there is a presentation as part of our series “stARTers: assaggi d’arte”. Presentations are led by our Residents as well as other guests, critics, musicians, writers, etc. Students are required to attend all presentations in English, and are encouraged to attend the other presentations in Italian as well.
Dates for Fall 2019 semester:
- September 1-3: Arrivals & orientation.
- September 4: Intensive 3 weeks begin (Art & Society Intro Unit, plus Italian Intensive)
- September 20: Intensive Italian exam.
- September 23: Semester elective courses begin.
- Nov 1-10 Mid-Term break.
- Nov 22-25 Long Weekend.
- December 7: End of Semester exhibition opening 4-6 pm.
- December 9-11: Final exams.
- December 11: Final Critique and Final Dinner.
- December 12-13: Departure.
Fall 2019 Regional Initiatives:
For the Fall 2019 semester, the projects of the Art & Society course will be within the context of initiatives exploring different communities within Siena, getting beyond the “surface level” or touristic lense and interacting with various micro-communities including the neighborhood groups, local artists and craftspeople, groups addressing sustainability, and more. the community of projects mapping contemporary art projects in response to specific locations and in response to artisanal traditions in the territory of Siena.
Specific topics we will explore in our Fall 2019 projects include:
- Responding to Location
- Connecting Cultural Heritage to Contemporary Artistic Practice
- Art as Social Criticism / Social Reflection / Social Metaphor
- Art as Public Communication / Entertainment, Propaganda, Kitsch
- Art as Community Galvanizer
- The Diversity of Audiences / Diversity of Viewpoints
How can your newfound surroundings in Siena and Tuscany serve as inspiration for the development of your own artistic projects? In your decision to study at the Siena Art Institute, you are obviously interested in exploring new territories and being in contact with different cultures. We will be experiencing the history of Italy as well as its contemporary realities, and to use this inspiration to propel your ongoing artistic development. Online platforms such as our course blog which we will create together open up additional venues to share your artistic creations with a broader audience, in addition to opportunities to share your work in-person, specifically during the Mid-Term Open Studio and the End-of-Semester Exhibition.
This semester you find yourself in the middle of Tuscany, one of the world’s most celebrated territories. Often the standard images and ideas about Tuscany today remain at the level of stereotypes and superficial understandings, romantic touristic “postcard views” of the scenic landscape. During the Art & Society course this semester, you will come to a deeper understanding of this territory, its complex culture, diverse population, and multi-layered social dynamics. Our initial projects this semester will ask you to specifically respond to your newfound surroundings here, as a way to begin your artistic endeavors in response to the unique location in which you find yourself.
Being part of a diverse and multicultural group, we also will explore how the concept of “Cultural Intersections” relates to our increasingly global and intercultural contemporary society. Territorial borders may seem very permeable in today’s world, while at the same time the world is becoming increasingly fractured in relation into “interest groups,” with divisions based on political viewpoints, age, socio-economic status, and educational background. As your projects develop this semester, you will be encouraged to address some of these broader issues based on your experiences in the region of Siena as well as experiences from your personal backgrounds.
What artworks can you create as a response? To guide you in your artistic development, the Art & Society course in the Fall 2019 semester will be divided into three main project units:
Intro Unit: Orientation and Disorientation: Exploring the City/ Connecting Past to Present: Artisan connections (weeks 1-4)
Using our initial explorations of Siena & the surrounding territory to explore different ways of responding to our newfound surroundings in Tuscany, looking beyond a touristic appreciation of the region, we will explore how alternative paths, maps, and exploration of traditional and contemporary artistic and artisanal practices can become rich source material for artistic inspiration using our own perspectives. Project assignments include the “Walk of Destiny” (week 1) and “Tempo Zulu” (week 2). A special event during the intro unit will be the SART Open Day on Sunday Sept 29, with a workshop led by Fall Project fellows Bik Van der Pol.
Mid-Term Unit: Story-telling through diverse viewpoints: Guided walk project / Micro-communities (weeks 4-9)
For your mid-term project, you are asked to develop an artistic project drawing upon your own background and your experiences in Siena and the surrounding territory, focusing on the themes of story-telling through diverse viewpoints and exploring the micro-communities that can be found within Siena and its surroundings. A booklet project (weeks 3 & 4) will then expand into the development of your Guided walk (weeks 4-6) & Mid-Term Project (weeks 7-9).
Now that you have spend some time in the territory of Siena, you are neither a complete “insider” nor a complete “outsider.” You have explored the local cultural history and contemporary realities, and have reflected on it from your own perspective. How can you now expand and deepen your personal artistic response? Are there particular points of view or personal narratives that particularly spark your interest, connections between past and present that you are interested to engage with?
Specific themes to consider in your Mid-Term Projects: cultural heritage, contemporary realities, multi-sensory materiality, alternative narratives, & site-specificity. Although not required, the theme of artisans and craftspeople may be of particular interest in students’ projects, bridging the arenas of traditional practices to contemporary realities.
The Mid-Term unit will include two special events: Saturday Oct 12 Amaci Giornata del Contemporaneo Open Studio 4-6pm (details to be confirmed), and Tuesday Oct 29 SART Mid-Term Open Studio (together with stARTers event). Beginning in late September, weekly presentations of visiting artists and writers will take place each Tuesday at 6 pm as part of our series “stARTers: assaggi d’arte.”
Final Projects: Digging Deeper: Beyond the surface (weeks 11-14)
Culminating in the end-of-semester exhibition opening Saturday Dec 7, held at the Siena Art Institute, you will further expand upon your ongoing studio work for the creation of your end-of-semester project, digging deeper into themes that we have developed in the first half of the semester. Over mid-term break you will be asked to send us a written project proposal explaining your ideas for your final project, and through individual advising, thematic discussions, and group critiques, we will support you in the development of your final project work. The final exhibition will stay on view for one week and is free and open to the public.
Student Learning Objectives:
-To explore working from a variety of artistic perspectives and techniques, to strengthen students’ ability to work cross-disciplinarily and to determine the most effective artistic platforms for their planned projects, working towards the overarching goal of student’s portfolio development.
-To work collaboratively and independently on thoughtful, experimental art projects in and around the Siena area with diverse group of energetic, skilled, and inspired artists and writers with a demonstrated interest in artistic exploration and rigorous intellectual inquiry.
-To create within the class a dynamic environment which fosters artistic production, intense critical dialogue, intercultural communication, thoughtful reflection, and growth.
The goal of the class is to support students’ ongoing artistic development through a holistic exploration of the intersection of art and civic life, and the roles art can play in a society, and to develop a studio practice that is curious, open and flexible.