Interdisciplinary Art and Design Practices

The Interdisciplinary Art and Design Practices Seminar investigates art and design work in the interdisciplinary modalities of contemporary culture and the city. As artists and designers respond to challenges of global magnitude and local impact, engage with cross-cultural and often conflicting conditions, and operate in disparate economic and societal realms, the need for increased engagement and collaboration is paramount. The complexity present in the context of action—economic, social, political, cultural, and ecological— frequently requires interdisciplinary approaches accompanied by cross-pollinating knowledge and skill sets.
Socially engaged art, relational aesthetics, and activist and emancipatory design practices challenge disciplinary boundaries not only in the art and the design worlds but also as they cross over and interact with communities, policy makers, and experts in fields such as social and political science, anthropology, economics, and ecology; this leads to the expansion of professional vocabularies, tools, and imaginaries and also cultivates new forms of interdisciplinary knowledge. As art and design practices move from art in public space to art in public interest (Miwon Kwon), their participatory and relational makeup can generate platforms and agencies that question dominant culture, construct new practices, establish new subjectivities, and subvert existing configurations of power (Chantal Mouffe). Historical examples of such approaches include Dada, the Situationists, and other avant-garde movements as well as contemporary art and design practices such as the Silent University, Philadelphia Assembled, and the O.N.E. mile project and Afrofuturism movement in Detroit. Such disseminated practices challenge the boundaries of art and design and their environments.

The seminar will navigate the evolving interdisciplinarity of art and design practices by engaging with the city, its communities, and the art world and by addressing urgent societal concerns.
Practice oriented, the seminar includes a series of workshops dedicated to exploring artistic tools and methods as well as the context in which they perform.

Fundamental goals of the seminar are:

  • to expose students to methods, techniques, and positions of interdisciplinary art and design practices;
  • to explore how art and design practices can engage with the public domain and the city;
  • to creatively explore the potential of mediums in the realization of ideas; and
  • to raise relevant questions and to test them through the development of projects;
  • Student evaluation is based on the workshop projects, participation in class, and the final workshop portfolio.

The seminar will include three workshops that investigate the agency of art and design in activating, participating, and responding to public spaces in the city and the communities they inhabit, as follows: 1) 'Boston in Context and Community Engagement' with the Harvard School of Public Health; 2) 'Safe Spaces and Sanctuaries' with the Rotterdam-based artist and community mobilizer Jeanne van Heeswijk; 3) 'The Museum and the City: Reimagining Inclusive and Decentralized Institutions' with the New Museum in New York.

The three workshops will offer complementary and integrated perspectives to help interact and engage with our environment—the city, the community, the artist/designer, and the institute—while bringing societal urgencies such as socioeconomic disparities, race and gender inequality, and climate justice to the foreground. Priority enrollment to ADPD MDes students.

Priority enrollment is given to MDes ADPD students. A limited number of additional seats are available via the limited enrollment course lottery.