Repair: The Art of Sustainability and Social Practice

Winter 2019
Spring 2019
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Evan Blackwell
ceramic art, sculpture, visual studies

This program will offer engagement with our current political, social, and natural climate. Whether we fix a bike, design a community garden, or help to change policy, this program focuses our attention on positive responses to today’s world. How do we conceptualize and engage with global issues as agents of social change through design and visual art social practice? How do we create more sustainable and fulfilling communities? How do we weave various knowledge systems into a healthy vision for the world? What do we make with the abundance of material goods that fill our daily lives?

To address these questions, we will consider traditions of the past and present that demonstrate cultural responses to environmental limits and social possibilities. We will examine concepts of sustainability to develop creative solutions for environmental, economic, and social challenges. This will include a critical look at alternative and utopian models for living, and sustainability and justice movements already at work in our community. We will study the production of art and design and how artists respond to current social, political, and environmental issues. We will examine the ideologies of visual arts movements such as the modernist avant-garde, social sculpture, and art as social practice. These will be connected to environmental movements and current trends in visual arts, craft, and design such as new forms in public art, urban intervention, resurgence in handiwork, upcycling, and culture hacking. Yogic philosophy offers critical guidelines for sustainable living and we will explore the principles and practices of this tradition.

This program will challenge students to engage through readings, seminar discussions, field visits, research papers, and visual art projects and critiques. Students will participate in active projects that creatively shape spaces in our community. These may take the form of public art projects, sculptures, or installations that enhance public spaces such as community or school gardens or parks.

In winter we will build vocabularies and skills for thinking about sustainability and community transformation. Studio work in two- and three-dimensional design and ceramics will emphasize redesigning, repurposing, and reusing the proliferation of materials available all around us. Study and comparison of cross-cultural examples of sustainability practices will guide the development of our community work. Students will research and report on local and global sustainable communities. In spring we will continue to develop community projects and/or individual visual artworks while working with local organizations to develop applied projects.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

community development, anthropology, education, visual arts, and applied sustainability.


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Class Standing: Junior–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia