30 January 2009

circles + squares

much of our discussion this week in the history + theory course related to humanity's first efforts toward placing habitations + structures on the surface of the earth. far more than simply providing shelter, environmental theory suggests that these first attempts to come to terms with nature carry significant meaning. from the perspective of material culture, barthes would suggest that all of these human-shaped artifacts serve as signs for humans to bring order out of the chaos. at stonehenge, i speculate about humanity's reverence for the unknown and the possibility of meanings for the structure.

23 January 2009

the opus begins

the two-page handout to describe the opus project. funny that what one writes will be interpreted in so many ways.

as the semester has gotten underway, i return to my roots as i do each spring with first year students in our interior architecture program as we undertake a study of the building arts through time. this year, working with suzanne cabrera and stoel burrowes, fellow first-year teaching faculty, we established the opus project as a sort of reporting system for all four of the classes students take as first year students – studio, history + theory, drawing, and graphics. the goal of the single reporting system represents our collected and concerted efforts to reach across the boundaries of each course to find the common ground. students each keep a physical journal with notes from all the classes and then report the “best of the best” online at their blog sites. i, too, find myself carrying a journal, attempting to document if our time together transforms during the semester as the result of this project. it’s good to be drawing along with my students…i think we all forget how much drawing slows you down and gets you to really consider something from many perspectives. besides a sketch book is certainly a people magnet. if you are sitting in a coffee shop, in a meeting, in your office drawing in a sketchbook, people surreptitiously offer a sideways glance, an earnest peak over the shoulder, or more often than not a conversation about something they see in your work. not a bad thing, all in all, just makes it all a little more public.

and speaking of that…there’s this blog which i am attempting to address weekly as part diary on the project and part teaching journal and to put the opus project work out in a public forum. as part of our goals as educators, we share information with others…and this form of dialogue research suggests an alternative for sharing that is made easy by the blog world. i have many questions about the outcomes of all this, but for the moment, i am diving in with the best of intentions. let’s see how long it lasts.

one last thing for context…in the history + theory class, i have shifted to a one-semester chronology. my sidekick and super teaching assistant, gwen mckinney, and i have retooled the material we have learned and amassed over the last several years that she has been with me, streamlining and extracting the most salient kernels for distribution. it’s good testing ground, i think, for precision in class and out, but i must admit that it’s very scary to try all of these new things at once…but life is not fully lived unless it is lived to the hilt. and so it begins…