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Sculpture course focuses on sustainable, social art projects

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

LAWRENCE—Sustainability is a hot topic in the creative arts these days, and the Department of Visual Art debuted a new class this fall with this very theme. “Social and Sustainable Art Practices” with associate professor Matt Burke explores the intersection of creativity and sustainability, especially as it relates to issues of habitat, food systems and social/civic artwork.

“We're looking to bring equal parts in-depth discussion and creative action to issues surrounding sustainability and environmental crisis,” Burke said. “Creativity and the arts need to play an even larger role in these pressing issues by exploring how direct, creative action actually influences how we think.” 

The class is an effort to draw closer together students in the arts, humanities and sciences by offering truly engaged learning opportunities. Students will read from landmark and contemporary texts, prompting discussion on these topics with the added component of creating group and individual authored artworks.

“The formula is to place emphasis on physically creating works as the class engages, thinks and discusses the course topics,” Burked added. “In essence, we are interested in how action changes thinking.”

The class will complete three projects throughout the course of the semester: a timber-framed structure, biodynamic beehives and social-oriented artworks.

This week the class is hosting Jim Rogers for a five-day timber framing workshop, where the class will complete a timber-framed structure while the guest artist is in house. This initial project, the Timber Pavilion, will be an 8-foot square open timber framed structure with an intended mixed-use function. The class and entities on campus will work to identify its permanent location and purpose.

Rogers is a graduate of the Fox Maple School of Traditional Building and the Heartwood School. He began Jim Rogers Sawmill in 1994 in Georgetown, Massachusetts. Jim Rogers Timber Designs opened 10 years later as a part-time business at the same location. It uses state of the art 3-D CAD drawing software to create drawings for architecture, timber framers and owners/builders. Rogers’ specialties include CAD software training, timber frame consulting services and timber framing instruction.

Chalmers Hall is at the northeast corner of 15th Street and Naismith Drive. Visitor parking is available at the Allen Fieldhouse Parking Garage, 1501 Irving Hill Road.

The Department of Visual Art is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

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