Art in public places – reconsidering space and time

Posted by Martine Durier-Copp, PhD., Academic Dean

COVID-19 has forced most academic institutions to migrate to online teaching, so as to allow students to complete their academic programs in a time of confinement. Many institutions were already reasonably well versed in some form of online delivery, and for these, the conversion of all courses to digital platforms was, while not ideal, feasible and practical. Since mid-March, social media has been exploding with blogs, how-to, tips, seminars and workshops providing advice to newly-minted online instructors as to how to succeed in the digital educational field.

Less has been written on the unique challenges of art, craft and design education, and the performing arts, to transition to radically new ways of teaching and learning. The blog will chronicle the experience of a faculty member in the Fine Arts Division of NSCAD University, as she sets out on her journey of conceptualizing and designing a new course for fall online delivery.

Professor Kim Morgan will be teaching a new course in Fall 2020 – ART IN PUBLIC PLACES – MAED6410/MFAR 6410, a hybrid seminar/studio course across Master of Fine Arts and Master of Art Education, which will bring together graduate students across interdisciplinary fields of studio, educational. administrative and curatorial practice.

Kim’s reaction to going online is immediate and visceral:

“Well, I’m an installation artist. Installation is about spatial relationships, materials in space and the immersive experience of the body in that space.  I feel that way about teaching.  Normally I’m immersed in the studio class in the moment surrounded by students. Now the world has changed.  I have to reconsider space and time. “

Ambivalence is acknowledged – while her work has involved collaborations with advanced technology (electron-microscope, with Dalhousie Medical School in a project dealing with Blood), and while she has certainly embraced technology in her approach, she recognizes challenges which will be associated in working online with her students this fall.

With the rapid migration to remote this past spring spring, Kim relates difficulties her students had in creating sculpture/installations, which are, fundamentally,  spatial, material practices.  Her challenge, as she sees it, will be to design a rich digital learning community for her students, where they can think about, examine and discuss art in public places, collaborate and exchange, and also create art, using Halifax as a case study.

Up next…planning the digital experience.

Kim Morgan with detail of Blood Group, permanent public installation, CHEB corridor, Dalhousie University, 2016

Blood galaxy billboard, Dartmouth, NS. Photo credit: Lorraine Field