MATTERS: Connecting Art + Design to Materials, Materials to Labor + Land
- Kaitlin Pomerantz
- Weitzman School of Design (PennDesign)
Kaitlin Pomerantz will develop cross-disciplinary and cross-departmental course programming through the Weitzman School of Design that connects arts and design learners to the production and disposal sites of the defining materials of their fields (ex. paper, wood, glass, pigment, “the internet”), laying groundwork for creative practice rooted in social and ecological awareness, repair and care. This novel and welcome initiative will support existing curricular efforts, bridge learning communities, and engage students with sites of art, industry and history beyond the University- including with partner site RAIR Philly, an artist residency at a waste management facility in North East Philadelphia. This programming focuses on using sites of historic and present industry to investigate questions of extraction, production, nature and matter. Responding to present unprecedented ecological and social collapse, it acknowledges that educational systems must support arts and design learners in gaining awareness of the inner workings of their fields to empower the development of practices rooted in care, sustainability, and equity. As writer Terry Tempest Williams states: “To bear witness is not a passive act. It’s an act of consequence that leads to consciousness.” Becoming conscious of the cycles, systems, land and labor practices that undergird the fields of art and design offers space for conscious inquiry and change. Experiential, project, and place-based learning leads students to interdisciplinary thinking, problem-solving, and radical innovation. This project will create space at the Design School for conversation across fields about what ethical practice in the arts and design fields can and should be.