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Cross-campus workshops available to IU students this fall

July 19, 2013

Kevin Lair, instructor for the IU Columbus Center for Art + Design (IUCA+D), seeks assistance from IPE affiliates in getting the word out about his series of cross-campus workshops offered during the fall semester.  Please contact Kevin Lair with questions and/or to arrange a time for him to make a brief presentation to your students about the workshops.  

Each workshop in the series is an independent, one-credit-hour course executed over four days. The workshops are mutually supportive in their content and approach; however, they are designed to enable students to take one, two, or all three workshops. Graduate students need to enroll in C580 and undergraduates in C480. The workshops are designed for students to work in an individualized manner and receive material on the level appropriate to their program. IUCA+D is part of IU Bloomington. The courses are listed under AMID.

"The Rural Post Industrial" is the first of three workshops offered by IUCA+D / Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design (AMID). The 1-credit-hour course challenges participants to find and explore the connective tissue binding rural and urban worlds and to create modes that speak from a rural landscape to both rural and urban audiences.  The workshop is intended to be interdisciplinary and bring in very different perspectives with hopes of providing students with an unpredictable and challenging experience. The goal is "creative abrasion”--the sometimes rough interactions that are needed to spark change and innovation. (No sparks, no fire!)  Creative inquiry will be encouraged to explore issues of the Rural Post-Industrial. Students should take the lessons of the course and apply them to their own particular areas of interest.

"Non-Human" is the second workshop in the series.  All animals have some relationship with humans such as the active and directed relationship with domesticated livestock; however, even recently discovered animals that live far below the earth’s surface have provided insights into what is required for life and potential healthcare applications. We are always seeking knowledge, hoping for some application in our own lives, and creating potential changes in the lives of non-humans.  These desires and our relationship with the non-human is defined most significantly by the challenge of communication.  The creatures who lack a voice with which we can directly communicate force us to be creative, inventive, persistent, empathic, and compassionate in order to learn from them. Inevitably, seeking insight into the lives of the non-human brings human existence and relationships into question.  Where are the point/s of differentiation and are they fabricated to suit particular purposes or do they fundamentally have meaning?

Charles Darwin asserted that from his experience as a researcher studying a particular animal he would over time attribute its actions to reason rather than instinct.  In fact, in recent years Darwin’s observation has been playing out in the larger scientific and academic community about what non-humans are capable of and creating a far richer sense of the animal being than previously thought. Old assumptions are being flushed and new possibilities emerging.

The third and final workshop in the series is "The Fear of Empty Space."  Horror Vacui references those moments that snap us into awareness if only for a brief time. We suddenly feel the complexity, power, and impact of seemingly invisible, small scale, emergent phenomena in nature as a pattern takes shape for us. The impact of nature and what we often think are not much more than "raw" materials for our purposes can be experienced as having a capacity and vibrancy that engages us in profound ways.  However, we have to unlearn common ways and seek a more meaningful, thoughtful relationship with what Jane Bennet calls "vibrant matter."  With this realization, it is hard to be proscriptive or dogmatic about action, inaction, causes, preventions, or solutions. It does compel us to explore, search, and question our relationship with the environment.  Also noted by Bennet is the long list of thinkers who understood the need to create the right context in which a moral set of principles can be lived out.  Artists also seek to create ways we can better see the hidden patterns, relationships, and significance in our world.

In this third workshop, we will advocate for the vibrancy of matter through creative inquiry. We will focus our inquiry on the "fear of an empty space" or ways in which nature operates and ways in which we have enabled, initiated, fostered, thwarted, challenged, and ignored.