Spring 2019 Participants

You can follow the activities of our students in the Spring 2019 semester Art and Society course through the blog listings of “Spring 2019” category, and through their profile pages listed here:

Art and Society Spring 2019 Course Description:

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.

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 inter-cultural 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 Spring 2019 semester  (Jan 24 – May 17):

  • January 24: Students meet the school staff at Florence’s Peretola Airport and depart for orientation. We ask that students arrive by 2pm in time to meet staff at the arrivals area by 3pm at the latest.
  • January 24-26: Orientation
  • January 28: Intensive 3 weeks begin (Art & Society Intro Unit, plus Italian Intensive)
  • February 15: Intensive Italian exam
  • February 18: Elective Courses begin
  • March 25-28: Midterm exams and critiques
  • March 29-April 1: Long weekend mid-term break
  • April 19-28: Spring break
  • May 1: National Holiday (International Labor Day)
  • May 11: End-of-Semester Exhibition
  • May 13-15: Final Exams and Critiques
  • May 15: Final Critique and Final Dinner
  • May 17-18: Departure

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.

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 multi-cultural 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 Spring 2019 semester will be divided into three main project units:

Intro Unit: Orientation and Disorientation:  Exploring the City

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) “Tempo Zulu” (week 2) and “Contemporary Artisans: Where Past Meets Present” (week 3).

Mid-Term Unit: Points of Inspiration

Building upon your intro unit explorations, we will be working on the development of artistic projects addressing themes of site-specificity in Siena, considering how artworks can be ways of communicating your own personal experience and point of view to a broad audience, and how spaces can embody far-reaching concepts such as sensory materiality, social dynamics, environmental issues, and cultural intersections. 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:

Culminating in the end-of-semester exhibition opening Saturday May 11th, held at the Siena Art Institute, you will further expand upon your ongoing studio work for the creation of your end-of-semester project. 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.

-To engage with Sienese and Tuscan communities in multiple ways: through observation, dialogue, outreach, and collaboration.

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.

Topics covered in the course 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