Converging Landscapes: Art, Ecology, and History
FNAR-307 / FNAR-507
Studies of landscape are at the center of multiple fields of fine art making, environmental research, and historical inquiry. Christopher Tilley defines “landscape” as “a holistic term” that frames relationships between living beings and locales, “forming both the medium for, and outcome of, movement and memory.” For interdisciplinary arts practitioners in Philadelphia, the landscape may conjure such relationships at points of convergence: when the physical and symbolic layers of the city lay bare social dynamics, truths, and opportunities for action. Such a range of landmarks – including rivers, gardens, public parks, rowhomes, statues, municipal infrastructure, waste streams, the skyline – are indicative of the deep histories of the region itself, as well as the human-activity that traffics upon it. To produce work about and from Philadelphia is to inherit long-standing questions of civic belonging, make sense of shifting demographic and ecological conditions, and to balance aims for striving and coexistence. Students will pursue group projects and cross-disciplinary independent work, around selected arts and municipal partnerships throughout Philadelphia. Students work will contribute toward a class wide exhibition, as well as collaborations with artists, archives, and organizations. Converging Landscapes – Art, Ecology, and History will be structured as a socially-engaged art praxis civic studio. The course is ideal for students invested in issues of socially-engaged public art, environmental humanities, history, and civic engagement.