This fall, the Art Studies department will offer a unique art seminar course for all students called ARS 414, Art with Diverse Materials. The class is an interdisciplinary, studio art class in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences inspired by the Fluxus movement of the mid 1900’s.
The Fluxus movement, which is where Tori Ralston, course instructor and coordinator of visual arts concentration, drew inspiration for the class, was a playful, accessible and open approach to making art that started in New York during the mid 1900’s.
The course will focus on and simulate Fluxus-style collaboration between artists from different disciplines and prove that anyone can be an artist according to Ralston.
“It’s a small, creative class that is really trying to be inclusive and collaborative with the arts,” Ralston said. “I think that that is what makes it really work. Having the ability to be out in the world with your art is something that you don’t always get to do as an undergraduate.”
Fluxus art was strange, weird, exciting and experimental in nature, and it utilized elements of humor, playfulness, interaction, musicality and surprise, according to Ralston.
“Some of the key components to it were that artists would use everyday materials ... so it was very kind of a playful, sort of accessible, open approach to making art,” Ralston said. “That's in contrast to the arts before that, that looked like art. It was just galleries and museums, so these artists were trying to break out of that.”
Students will showcase their work in an exhibit at the Craft Center in November, and are working to participate in a First Friday exhibit at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design for the first time this year. In past semesters, students have created elaborate, three-dimensional black out poems and interactive one-minute sculptures for the exhibit. The sculpture might be as simple as holding 10 oranges in a creative way so that the person becomes a sculpture, but usually students have more elaborate ideas according to Ralston.
The seminar group will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops that are sponsored by the Art Studies department. In past semesters, students have practiced smoke painting by raising and lowering damp pieces of paper over a smoky fire that marks on the paper to create a unique design. They have also learned how to use Japanese ink to create zen style paintings. At the end of the semester, students will create an experimental sonic video and two videos will be selected as a part of the NC State Libraries Student Moving Image Showcase exhibit, according to Ralston.
Second-year arts studies student and co-president of the Arts Club, Sabrina Hurtado, took the class in the fall of 2019 and said this class is different from others because of its self-led nature.
“Many classes have guidelines and strict rubrics to guide students toward a final goal, but ARS 414 is a class that allows students to take nearly full control of their projects,” Hurtado said. “For example, our final project was to make a non-narrative film, meaning a film that could not have a sequence of events or a story that contextualized it. That was the only requirement.”
According to Hurtado, the free structure allowed for everyone to have completely different end results and brought new perspectives to the class, and Ralston said this is the goal of the course. Students in communication, marine sciences, natural resources, design studies, business administration, psychology, intercollege transfer and arts entrepreneurship have already enrolled in the course for the fall, according to Ralston.
“Any student that has a passion for something and ideas to share can succeed in this class,” Hurtado said. “Not only is any student capable of creating exceptional projects for this
class, but I encourage all majors to experience creating these artistic projects within their area of study. The ideas and questions that are discussed in this class give students a more well-rounded look on academia and flourish innovative outlooks that can be applied to their field.”
Working with students from different backgrounds works for this class because the artists from the Fluxus movement were interdisciplinary, contemporary and experimental themselves, Ralston said.
“It’s really neat just trying to understand everyone’s perspective and points of genius, how they come together in collaborative groups and learn from each other,” Ralston said. “I’ve taught art for a really long time, and it's some of the most interesting critiques I’ve ever experienced because we’re not all fine artists. It’s a bunch of different people from different areas of study who bring a whole new layer of vocabulary.”
ARS 414 will meet on Mondays from 1:30-4:15 p.m. in the Crafts Center. There are no prerequisites for the course, and it will meet the visual art requirement for art studies students. It does not currently meet a GEP requirement, but will count as a free elective.
ARS 414 is offered during fall semesters and the waitlist is still open for students who want to enroll for this fall.