“In today’s global culture, the role of the artist is more vital than ever. Art today is often as much about the production of knowledge as it is about the visual formal aesthetic. That is just one of the reasons why in Art Center College of Design’s Fine Art program we encourage our students to see art as not just a purely expressive pursuit, but also as an intellectual inquiry.” -Laurence Dreiband, Chair, Fine Arts Program
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.
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.
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.
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.