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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Linda S Watts
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

Members of this class will explore three major categories within contemporary American art-- public art, installation art, and interventionist art. We will view and read about such art, discuss the issues specific works raise, write analytically about art within its cultural context, and develop proposals for new art works.

What Content This Course Will Ask You to Discover:

--What is public art? --What is installation art? --What is interventionist art? --What attributed do such works possess, and what patterns emerge through comparisons? --What produces the most compelling works in each of the above artistic categories? --How do viewers engage with such texts? --What is the cultural context for contemporary art? --What are the lasting implications of such expression? --How does one create such art pieces?

What Specific Skills the Course Will Invite You to Build:

--Identifying and evaluating sources --Using primary and secondary sources --Applying critical methods to artistic issues --Thinking in humanistic terms --Making textual inferences --Engaging conflicts among interpretations --Practicing across modes of writing (such as analytical essay, press release, and peer response)

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

There are many ways to meet your degree requirements, so it is important for you to choose each course wisely. Sometimes practical constraints, such as time slot and the like) play a part in your decisions, but these should not trump choices based upon the learning prospect. No course is right for everyone, but only you are positioned to determine which course is most appropriate for you.

You should know from the outset that the way I teach typically calls upon students to “do something” rather than to hear or watch me do something. What this means is that you will need to take responsibility for your own learning; hold yourself accountable for your choices; interact, question, respond, and introspect; deal constructively with complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty, ambivalence, and nuance; contribute to shared inquiry as conducted by a community of learners; and be ever receptive to, and resilient in, intellectual risk-taking.

Here are a few clear indications that this course might not be for you: you desire a survey course where in-class coverage of text-book material is the central value, you prefer lecture courses, you like to remain anonymous in the classroom, you decline to participate in class discussions and activities, you want to interact only with the instructor (vs. peers), you expect to be successful on the first attempt at a skill, you dislike reading and/or writing, you are uncomfortable with readings featuring adult situations or strong/coarse language, you like best a class where questions can be settled and facts confirmed, you think it will be an easy course because such topics seem wholly subjective, or you are more concerned with your grade than with what you learn. If any of these statements describes you, the course is probably not a good choice for you. If this is the case, I would be glad to assist you in finding one more suitable to your educational needs.

Recommended preparation

There is no preparation or prerequisite for students enrolled in this course. It is important that class members possess intellectual curiousity, as well as a passion for writing, speaking, and dialogue. A creative turn of mind is helpful, but no prior experience with art or art history is needed.

Class assignments and grading

Frequent reading assignments; field assignments to view and respond to artworks in the Seattle area; in-class essay exams; and a project that includes an oral presentation.

Important: Please note that due to the nature of this course, class members will be required to complete field assignments that involve viewing both indoor and outdoor art in the Seattle area. If enrolling in the class, please be prepared to complete approximately three such assignments outside class time. Each will require two hours with the art, in addition to whatever time is needed to reach it and return from it.

Class members will be evaluated in and across a variety of performance categories, including n-class contributions, essay exams, field assignments, projects, and presentations.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to e-mail me at

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.
Last Update by Linda S Watts
Date: 07/20/2006