“Artmatters is built on learning in place, and from place, in our highly interconnected, globalized world. We are interested in models of making, doing and participating in the concrete circumstances of social experience. This is a very different proposition than art’s historical withdrawal and specialization. It is to ask how art and artists might reinvent themselves from within the seams between divergent forms, audiences, and functions.”

- Dave Bailey, Director, Artmatters


Introduction: New Forms of Knowledge and Aesthetic Production

In the 21st century, global artists work in an interconnected world — a world in dramatic political, social, and economic transition. The Artmatters Concentration is anchored in a critical inquiry of social space and combines theoretical groundwork with projects that utilize the modern megalopolis as classroom. Artists work in an evolving conception of public art activity, from site-defining projects to innovative and interactive social spaces (both actual and virtual), that contributes to current critical discourse about the agency and shifting role of the artist in the 21st century.

Vision: Expanding the Audience for Art in the Public Sphere

At Art Center College of Design, we are embracing this time as a contingent field of exploration,one of emergence and flux that is also representative of new paradigms for learning. For the past decade, we have been committed to experimenting with participatory and project-based learning methodologies for social impact design projects through the Designmatters Department at the college. Considering issues holistically rather than reductively makes designers uniquely suited to contribute effectively to the social sector, proving that design can play a significant role in addressing some of the world’s most critical problems, and helping effect large-scale, sustainable change. Similarly, artists make things and artists make things happen. Art can become a new form, as well a new form of understanding. The experimental nature of art actively promotes uncertainty and questions established values.

Curriculum: Fostering Social Engagement

Artmatters offers a course of study that reconsiders the purpose of both fine art and applied arts, and their place in the world beyond aesthetics and commerce. Through both collective and individual art production, students examine the interdisciplinary nature of the imagination and the common ground among the arts, humanities and social sciences. The curriculum recognizes the role of activist and disruptive art endeavors that confront a range of social, environmental and political issues that can employ diverse art practice strategies (such as performance, short-term interventions and media events; spontaneous exhibitions, installations, and a range of familiar mass-media communication vehicles, like posters, advertising and billboards) to promote dialogue and reflection, and sometimes sounding alarms and calling for change.

At present, the curriculum is being offered as a “track,” through the Fine Art Department and is open to students from several other applied art majors, including Photography & Imaging, Illustration, Film, Environmental and Graphic Design. Though Artmatters has much in common and will occasionally overlap with Art Center’s established Designmatters department and the curriculum of the Designmatters Concentration, each track offers somewhat distinct approaches for artists and designers concerned with ideas of social impact. The Designmatters Concentration generally emphasizes the pragmatic problem-solving capacity of design to offer useful and sustainable solutions to specific local and global problems, while the Artmatters Concentration sees art as an advocate for responsible and empathetic art production and communication—one that can serve as a journey of discovery and illumination, as well as an agency for change.




Seek Advisement with your Department Chair and the Fine Arts Department


You’ll declare the Concentration after Term 3


You’ll have to complete a sequence of 7 required courses-for a total of 21 units



The framework for these requirements, which can vary depending on your major, are listed below:

1. You’ll take 3 HDS classes (Humanities and Design Sciences)

2. You’ll take 1-2 classes within your department that your Chair has determined to be relevant to social impact design.


3. Finally, you’ll take 2 or 3 Artmatters project-based studio classes. These are upper level classes which often also fulfill your TDS requirements.


ACCD Fine Arts Page
ARTMATTERS Concentration Page