- Art, Tyler School of
- Art History
Does our present global environmental crisis demand a new way of thinking about art and its history? What role has art played in constructing an image of our environment as natural resource, scientific specimen, mythic Eden, arena of struggle, and/or fragile ecosystem? Can art and art history help envision a more sustainable world or are they part of the problem? As a way of addressing such questions, this course takes an "ecocritical" perspective on American art from the late 19th century (when the word "ecology" first appeared) to the present. More than any other single nation, the United States bears responsibility for the ecological challenges facing our planet, even as its citizens arguably enjoy unparalleled opportunities for creative freedom. By highlighting the interconnectedness of human beings with their environment in America, as well as the power of art to re-imagine that relationship, the course provokes students to re-think accepted canons and practices in light of other criteria having to do with sustainability, environmental justice, and our ethical responsibility to non-human life. Covering a wide range of artists and media - from the Romantic paintings and writings of Thomas Cole and John James Audubon to more recent work by Edward Burtynsky, Subhankar Banerjee, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Robert Smithson, Helen and Newton Harrison, Eduardo Kac, Alexis Rockman, Mark Dion and other contemporary artists active in this country - the course gives students a new and richly diverse opportunity to think about American art. NOTE: Field trips are mandatory for this course.