Mapping Public Spaces: Art, Narrative, and the Commons

June 25, 2012 - June 29, 2012 8:30 am-3:15 pm

2012 UWM Art Education Summer Institute

For information on registering for the related sessions at UWM and the John Michael Kohler Art Center, or to receive undergraduate or graduate credit, see below.

How are the arts are used to examine, build, and sustain place?

Spaces are both physical and mental. They are layered with meanings and relationships that speak through the imaginary, the mythic, and the other. They are infused with memories, histories, and exchanges. The two-week Summer Institute will ask participants to narrate the city through artistic endeavors that transform our engagement with it and work as a tool for thought and action.

We will investigate how art and narrative can be used to map our perceptions of the environment through the work of such artists as Agnes Vardà, Art Spiegelman, Rikrit Tiravanija, Rachel Whitehead, Marc Augé, Barbara Miner, Alfredo Jaar, Mona Hatoum, Robert Frank, Allan Sekula, Mel Chin, among others. Historically, cartographers created maps to document the built environment to ease navigation and ensure the safety of both city dwellers and travelers. But postmodern mapping projects have also offered us critical methodologies involving image and text that enable more layers of information and experiences that move beyond the pure documentation of our surroundings to a more holistic understanding of place that is use-generated and speaks to the ecological, historical, and cultural issues that shape our urban landscape and our sense of commons, or communities. We will also consider the implications of mapping, narrative, and art for writing curriculum and conducting research.

During the week at Lynden, participants will explore the sculpture garden from multiple perspectives: that of the director, charged with connecting art, nature and community; a master gardener; a photographer; and an artist. Students will explore ideas of place-based education, relational aesthetics and art-based inquiry, creating objects and/or visual narratives that respond to the land, space, and natural, cultural and community resources present at Lynden. At the end of the week, students will have the opportunity to show their work in a collective exhibition. The Lynden segment may be taken for 1 credit (see below).

The full two-week institute will take place at the UWM campus (June 18-19), John Michael Kohler Art Center (June 20-23), and the Lynden Sculpture Garden (June 25-29). Summer Institute participants have the option of enrolling for 1, 2 or 3 credits for this course under Art Education 489. Experiences taking place at the Kohler and the Lynden are seen as workshops worth one credit each. The entire two-week course can be taken for three credit hours under Art Education 830, Education Policy 579, or Art Education 489. In order to register and earn graduate credit, Summer Institute participants must enroll with UWM as a graduate student, either in a non-degree program or in a degree program. If you have further questions about course credit and content, please contact Rina Kundu at or at 414.229.4200.

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