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In this course, students will concentrate on contemporary art issues, as well as become aware of current trends and styles of art in their surrounding communities. Students will also explore the social, political and cultural environments of existing artistic expressions as they relate to current events.

Contemporary Art is an elective in which we discuss the themes and topics of art made in the last 30 or so years. The success of this class lies in the combination of traditional slide lectures and experiential projects in which students have the opportunity to see the work of artists in the community. During the quarter we visit local museums and galleries, explore public sculptures and murals and have a class debate about censorshop.

In developing the curriculum for this class, I emphasized the relationship between the students as burgoning designers and the contemporary art world that surrounds them. While slide and video lectures are necessary to create the structure of understanding for the class, importance is placed on reading and discussion. At the initiation of each lecture, students answer a series of questions that are visited later in relation to specific artists. One lecture is even devoted to a student lead debate on censorship in the arts focusing on the work of Chris Ofili, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano and Sally Mann.

An even more effective method of introducing students to comtemporary art is to just leave the classroom and experience it. While most of the students live in the Bay Area, they are woefully ignorant of the art that surrounds them. The content of each trip is reinforced with a written analysis of the artworks or venues visited. Students are particularly inspired by the murals in the Mission District of San Francisco and by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, an experimental art venue emphasizing mew media. The connection between the art they are seeing and the art they are making is reinforced through an extra credit presentation of their own work at the end of the quarter.

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