Experiential Learning Projects

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Because I believe my students learn best when something beyond their own coursework is at stake, I’ve undertaken a number of special projects in my classes. These have involved curating open-call exhibitions, showing work in exhibitions outside of the university, and producing work in the service of community organizations.

Guerilla Curating Film Program

Making the Invisible Visible – a screening curated by Guerilla Curating for Exuberant Politics, Spring 2014

Among these varied films are experiences, stories, and evidence of the realities of our history and our present that usually remain uncomfortably invisible and hidden. By forcing us to stare into the face of the realities of quiet prejudices (Why, MANUFACTURED BRITISHNESS), histories less known (778 Bullets, Reality 2.0) and the current sometimes hidden destruction of our living world (Living on the Edge), these films demand our at- tention as they powerfully direct our eyes and ears to their messages, making the invisible, visible.

Why, Borja Rodriguez (Spain, 5 min)
Reality 2.0, Victor Orozco (Germany/Mexico, 11 min)
778 Bullets, Angela Aguayo (US, 18 min)
Living on the Edge, Aaron Zeghers (Canada, 3.5 min)
MANUFACTURED BRITISHNESS, Kristina Cranfield (Great Britain, 12.5 min)

Work selected from an open call by Kelly Gallagher, Jared Jewell, and Jaime Knight.

Collaborative Performance Documentation – Media Art Lab, Fall 2013

In cooperation with visiting choreographer and performance artist Esther Baker-Tarpaga, Media Art Lab students documented the installation/performance event created in the interdisciplinary course “Collaborative Performance.” Student teams worked with performers in each vignette to determine the best location and type of performance, then filmed the on-proscenium event on three consecutive evenings using a three-camera set-up. They then synchronized the video and edited short documentary vignettes to convey the feeling, but not full duration, of each piece. In the course of preparation we discussed the role of documentation in performance art.

Screen Capture Exhibition Poster

Screen Capture – an exhibition curated by Media Art Lab, Spring 2012

From the first moment that fire projected shadows onto the cave wall, people have used various types of screens to exhibit images and information. Today, we live in a society dominated by “screen culture.” We spend our days with screens: working with computers, texting on cell phones, relaxing with television, navigating by GPS, being distracted by moving billboards, and going to the movies. The ubiquity of screens in our lives obscures how different types of screens actually operate, both technologically and culturally. This exhibition explores the evolution of this screen culture and its myriad possibilities in transmission.

With my guidance, students in Media Art Lab devised and distributed the thematic call, selected exhibiting artists from over 50 submissions, installed the work, and promoted the show. The exhibition ran May 2-8, 2012 in Art Building West.

ArtistsRaphael Arrar (Cambridge, MA)
Liat Berdugo (Providence, RI)
Faith Holland (New York, NY)
Gabrielle McNally (Iowa City, IA)
Josh Rios (Chicago, IL)
Crystal Roethlisberger (Tulare, CA)
Steven Silberg (Catonsville, MD)
Ricardo Miranda Zuniga (New York, NY)

Symbiotic exhibition postcard

Symbiotic – a exhibition of work by students in Intermedia Workshop, Spring 2012

Symbiotic is the product of a temporary collaboration between Grand Valley’s Curatorial Studio and artists from the University of Iowa. It is a student-curated group show with a thematic emphasis on human impact and environmental intervention. The featured artists find common interest in matters of mapping and landscape, particularly in the relationship between our collective conceptions and depictions of the American heartland in both data and image. The GVSU Curatorial Studio here plays an intermediary role by joining geographically distinct locales with a concern for the interstitial space therein, both physical and cultural. The exhibition ran April 13-14, 2012 at the Gallery @ 1Division in Grand Rapids, MI.

Winter with Art & Ecology infrastructure at Miller-Orchard Community Garden

Art & Ecology Projects at the Miller-Orchard Community Garden, Spring and Fall 2011

The Spring and Fall 2011 Art and Ecology classes undertook community-based projects at the Miller-Orchard Community Garden, located near the Studio Arts Building on Iowa City’s southwest side.  Following extensive readings on community-based art, meetings with gardeners, and research into the neighborhood, the students proposed, developed, and carried out projects in the garden. In both semesters, students opted to develop useful and beautiful infrastructure for the garden, building entranceway trellises from on-site materials; installing an underground vermiculture (worm composting) bin; and constructing message centers to facilitate communication between gardeners and with the general public.

Food Roots Cover

Food Roots – a local foods community cookbook, Spring 2010

Food Roots was a collaboration between Local Foods Connection (LFC) and the Art and Ecology class at the University of Iowa. Over the course of several months, 14 students and an LFC volunteer interviewed several of the organization’s client families and social service agencies, in addition to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers from whom it purchases fresh food. Students also conducted background research and spearheaded the design and layout of the book using photographs supplied by LFC. The cookbook highlights Iowa City’s diverse food knowledge and educates the community about cooking and nutrition. Clients and farmers interviewed for this book come from Illinois, Iowa, California, Mexico, Guatemala, Republic of the Sudan, the Togolese Republic, El Salvador, and Thailand. The project assembles the knowledge and experiences of LFC’s clients and channels student skills and energies to become involved in the community and in local issues such as poverty, hunger, and food justice in Johnson County.

Local Foods Connection enrolls low-income families and the agencies that serve them in CSA programs. CSAs provide a season’s worth of fresh produce to consumers while paying local earth-friendly farmers fair prices for the food they grow, raise, and produce. Clients have the opportunity to visit a farm, as well as to learn healthy cooking methods. These opportunities are part of LFC’s larger educational program, which covers nutrition, cooking, and environmental issues.

Download as PDF: Food Roots Cookbook (26 MB, without cover)