graduate critique seminar

This core seminar provides a grounding in concepts, histories, practices, and potentialities of the field as reflected in the department’s four curricular themes (Permanence and Ephemerality, Public Practice, Space and Place, and Systems). It is designed to help students develop their reading and writing skills in direct relationship to their own work, to inform and support their long-term career through development of a strong knowledge base, and to position their work in relation to the evolving field of contemporary sculpture. In addition to addressing specific themes identified by individual teachers, the class examines tensions and connections between sculpture, architecture, designed objects.


course requiremements

The seminar has a weekly course load of 30-40pgs for 7 weeks designed to build a shared language.  Concepts and theories are put into practice with 4 group critiques.  Two workshops are reserved for professional strategies and discipline.  Students are expected to complete all assigned readings, submit 2 writing assignments, 4 presentations and group critiques. Verbal participation during reading discussions, critiques, and visiting artist presentations is an absolute requirement.  The course is supplemented with Sculpture Dialogues and Visiting Artists.  

assignments by deadlines

WEEK 1: 7 min artist presentation introducing artistic influences to the class. 

WEEK 4:  Students will write a 5pg script for a 10min lecture analyzing contemporary myths, ur-forms.  Gathering topical material evidence on things, technologies, fiction, spaces, and events, students will catalogue, interpret, and identify dominant socio-cultural myths and respond with their own critical perspective. 

WEEK 5: 1pg Artist statement DUE in print.

WEEK 7: 12 min Material Culture lecture based on writing.

WEEK 10: Presentation on 10 Artists grants, residencies and exhibition opportunities.

WEEK 14: 12 minute Artist as Autodidact lecture based on writing.

WEEK 12-15:  Artwork due in class critiques

rules & rituals

Class has a true start of 1:05PM.  We discuss readings for 1.5 hours with a 15 minute break between readings, followed by critique exercises and visiting artists.

This is a face to face encounter with your peers, NO cellular phones.

3 Absences without notice will result in an automatic non credit.  Last date for withdrawal is ___.


reading topics

1. [Systems & Space] Susan Buck Morss & Augusto Boal

2. [Space & Things] Arvatov & Sofia

3. [Systems: Ontology] Bryant & Thacker

4. [Systems: Ontology] Kohn & Agamben

5. [Systems: Objects] Eagleton, Kristeva

6. [Systems & Practice] Singerman

7. [Practice] Bey & Ostrow



Readings and Class discussions assigned from week 2-8: 

Students will understand disciplinary history of  sculpture, aesthetic language and contemporary discourse.  Students show comprehension when they can describe and interpret texts, make references to historical concepts and theories and connect to current artistic practices, link complex perspectives from social, historical and cultural contexts to their own artistic work.  Students are evaluated not just on their ability to contest, but also ask questions that builds true inquiry and knowledge production.


Writing Synopsis based on readings assigned from week 2-8:

Students will develop critical thinking skills and are deemed intelligent when they can understand, interpret, interrogate historical models of thought with a contemporary reframing of stakes, formulate artistic responses by occupying a position in roundtable discussions of reading and propose viable artistic strategies in Labor and Practice section of the course.


Artist Statement, Writing and Lecture Presentation:

Students will gain communication skills through a rigorous practice of writing, public discourse and self presentation.  Students will be evaluated on their ability to present themselves coherently in public, in studio visits, and respond with a complex interpretation of cultural critiques.  The Artist as Autodidact Lecture assignment gives students the opportunity to collect, connect, and analyse the development of their own taste and interests against larger social and cultural contexts.  Students will be able develop their own language and method of presenting their work and artistic background.  Students are required to develop the ability to link research, communicate its relevance and present multiple frames of references that persuasively communicates value, meaning and interest to the audience when communicating publicly. 


Artistic Work:

Students will put theory into practice with a creative body of work.  Students show discipline when they are able to follow their aesthetic intentions and curiosity with a high level of intensity in the actualization of the work.  Students are expected to build momentum based on their initial exploration to advance thinking into the next stage of their artistic inquiry. Evident in their creative work is the ability to propose, innovate and evaluate aesthetic values towards more artistic and critical practices.



1:05pm True start.  

1:05-2:15pm Reading discussions.

2:15pm -15 minute break. 

2:30 Lecture presentation of artist works related to the reading and short critique exercises to apply our understanding of the text.

3:00pm - student presentations

NO laptops or cellphones allowed in class.

This is a face to face encounter with you peers.




Presentation of syllabus and course requirements. Students will present a 7 minute lecture on their artistic influences.

CLASS 2: WAKE FROM the modern dream

[Things & Practice] Readings due on Susan Buck Morss’ Dreamworld of Mass Culture from Dialectics of Seeing and Augusto Boal’s Invisible Theater. Class discussion on modern mythology~urforms, dialectical images, mimicry and action. Guidelines on Material Culture Paper (5pgs) with Afterimage. Critique exercise with Katie Patterson’s Light Bulb to Simulate Moonlight. 


CLASS 3: material imagination & its container

Reading due on Boris Arvatov’s Everyday Life and the Culture of the Thing and Zoe Sofia’s Container Technologies. Class discussion on artifacts as comrades and the unnamable, corporeal imagination of society. Material Culture Paper due in print.  Artist Statement writing workshop.

CLASS 4: get real; object without a subject

[Systems: Epistemology] Readings due for class discussion on Levi R. Bryant’s Towards a Finally Subjectless Object and Eugene Thacker’s Clouds of Unknowing. Class discussion on anti-realist positions and the impact of a de-centered subject on aesthetics. Screening of Ian Bogost’s video essay on Object Oriented Ontology.  1pg Artist Statement due in print. 

CLASS 5: return to the open, the world & feeling

Readings due for class discussion on Edward Kohn’s The Open Whole from How Forests Think and Giorgio Agamben’s essays, World and Earth & Animalization.  Critique exercise Oliver Laric’s Versions.  Statements and edited papers will be returned with guidelines for your upcoming lecture on material culture presentation. Individual meetings on papers & presentation.


CLASS 6: uncivilizable trace, abject & sublime

Readings due for class discussion on Terry Eagleton’s Free Particulars from Ideology of the Aesthetic and and Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror.  Individual meetings on papers, presentation and connections to work.


CLASS 7: material presentations due

CLASS 8: conditions of production

[Practice] Reading due for class discussion on Saul Ostrow’s Critical Practices and Dawoud Bey’s Advice to Young Artists Round table discussion on artistic strategies and challenges for contemporary art production.5 min presentation on 10 grants, opportunities and resources.

CLASS 9: 4 studio visits

CLASS 10: 4 studio visits


CLASS 11: 4 studio visits

CLASS 12: 4 studio visits

CLASS 13: artist presentations

[Public Practice] Final assignment due in a 10 min public presentation of artistic work, art historically and culturally contextualized.


CLASS 14: artist presentations

[Public Practice] Final assignment due in a 10 min public presentation of artistic work, art historically and culturally contextualized.

© 2017 LAN TUAZON.