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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Gary L. Carpenter
B CUSP 191
Bothell Campus

Art and Public Spaces

Examines works from across the arts: painting, writing, film, architecture, theater, new media. Explores their relationship to public spaces such as museums, site-specific structures, galleries, and exhibitions, as well as the history of their public reception. Includes site visits. Offered: ASp.

Class description

Art in Public Spaces is a 50% hybrid course (50% of the course will be online) designed to familiarize students with the basic practical and theoretical aspects of public art with a focus on the impact this art form can have on local communities and society at large. This quarter, it is a 50% hybrid course, meaning that half of the class will be online and we will only meet face to face once a week. This course takes an active, project based approach to public art emphasizing the function of the work over aesthetics: a course introducing students to art as a tool to inspire thought, spark conversation and as a catalyst for change.

By its very nature, the creation of public works of art requires an interdisciplinary approach drawing from a wide variety of disciplines. The creation of these works often involve rigorous research into science, communities, materials, as well as a good working knowledge of budgets, legal documents and artistís rights. Public artists are fabricators and makers, environmentalists, social activists, and passionate creators who must consider the client and the community as well as work within budgetary and time restraints. We will explore the purposes, practices and functions of public art. Who makes these works of art? Who decides? Is the work accessible to all? Does it need to be? Are there moral and ethical considerations? What are the legal considerations? What role does the First Amendment play in these works of art? These questions will guide this course and help to formulate the underpinnings of the design projects. For these projects, students will develop all of the components usually required for public art proposals (strong concepts, models, plan and elevation drawings, artistsí statements, budgets, etc). These skills will be taught in class.

Student learning goals

Students be able to formulate and express more informed opinions about works of art in public spaces (develop the ability to engage in critical dialogue).

understand and appreciate public art form the artistís viewpoint through group and individual design projects

Comprehend the overarching social implications (legal, moral, ethical) in the selection and development of public art projects

develop strategies for independent research (what to ask, where to find it, what to do with the information)

communication/self-expression/ presentation skills (how to get your message across to others)

explore creativity and gain confidence in creative abilities

General method of instruction

This course is designed around students developing individual public art proposals. To prepare students for this there will be a considerable number of readings accompanied by group and class discussions. Students will be asked to look beyond the aesthetics of public works of art, and to begin to understand the function and social implications of these works.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites are required for this course. Because it is a hybrid course though, it is advisable that the students are comfortable working independently.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments include weekly readings, written projects on works students visit outside of class time, and two design projects; one group project and one final individual public art project.

Grading will involve the students willingness to push the boundaries of the issues presented, class participation, written essays on specific works visited by the students and in depth research exploring their projects. The largest portion of the grades rely on the completion and presentation of two public art proposals.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Gary L. Carpenter
Date: 02/18/2013