Fall 2015

Art in Place and the Place of the Arts


Eric W. Sawyer (Section 01)
Stephanie A. Sweet (Section 01)
Wendy Woodson (Section 01)


Art is the product of the imagination, but imagination is often the product of a place.  We will examine the process by which art can spring from and return to a place, whether geographically or abstractly located.  The course will survey the interaction of place and art from several perspectives: site-specific art, art in the community, art across borders and frontiers, art in the academy, art in the marketplace, and art and ecology.  Each perspective will be framed by examples of established work in music, dance, theater, and film that arise from or respond to place, both locally and globally.  We will also consider work created by artists in our region, and on our own campus by Five College faculty and students.  Finally, students will be given tools to work on a final creative project of their own, individual or collaborative, following the models and approaches to interaction with place that they have studied.

The primary texts for this seminar will be works of art in different disciplines:  dance, theater, music, literature, film and visual art supplemented by theoretical texts that provide useful context and ways to think about Art in Place/the Place of Art.  Weekly viewings of live and virtual works will be required as well as written responses and class discussions about the works of art.  Some of these viewings will involve field trips in the pioneer valley and nearby cities. An emphasis will be placed on students becoming familiar with the wealth of art practices, exhibitions and archives that are available to them as students at Amherst and in the Five Colleges. Additionally students will be encouraged to see and discuss connections between the arts and other disciplines within a liberal arts curriculum as well as their capabilities to build communities and collaborations.  In addition to critical writing and discussion students will create their own art projects in different media as a response to/inspired by some of the examples of work that we see during the semester, working independently and in collaborative groups.  The objective in these projects is not necessarily to become an expert in art making but to engage in art experimentation as a method of analysis and discovery and as a way to view the world.

Fall semester. Professors Sawyer and Woodson.

If Overenrolled: FYS


Artistic Practice, Attention to Research, Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Community Based Learning, Writing Intensive


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015