Explorations in the Arts

Section 3, Spring 2017, Fridays, 2:10 pm – 5 pm

Assignments

Blogs

You will be required to write various blog posts of at least 250 words each throughout the semester. Each blog prompt and due date will be posted below; for each post please include a featured image and a creative title (do not use titles such as “Homework 1”).

  1. DUE: Feb 10 Category: My Arts
    Part 1
    : What do “the arts” mean to you? Some questions you might consider: How do you define the arts? What role do the arts play in your own life? Are you an artist or a fan of the arts? Are there art forms you’d like to learn more about? Part 2: On the same blog post, use a photo from your scavenger hunt as the Featured Image (decide with your partner who will post which photo). Write a few sentences in a final paragraph at the end of your blog post about the photo. What kind of art/artistic space does the photo represent? What do you think is interesting about the art/art space?
  2. DUE: Feb 22 Category: Morgan Library: Dickinson; Choose Option A or B below.
    • Option A: Compose a poem in response to a Dickinson poem. At the end of the poem include a note that indicates which poem you were inspired by. Some ideas for getting started:
      • Use one of her lines as the first line of your poem
      • Use her signature style of dash marks to break up your phrasing
      • Use “hymn meter,” to which many of her poems are composed (i.e. can be sung to the tune of “Amazing Grace”)
      • Write about a similar subject (death, flies, introducing yourself by name – or lack thereof – to another person, etc)
      • Whatever else you may come up with!
    • Option B: Write between 250 and 500 words on curation of Morgan show. Some questions to consider:
      • What was the overall message or feeling you took away from show? What was communicated about Emily Dickinson?
      • How did the space in which the exhibit was held affect your feeling or understanding of it?
      • How did the choice of objects and the arrangement of the objects in the show affect your feeling or understanding of it?
      • What role did text or written language play in the show? This includes everything from wall descriptions to displayed manuscripts.
      • What do you think the show should have included and did not?
  3. DUE Feb 24 Category: Resistance Photography
    Take a photograph at some point during the next week (with your phone or, if you want, a camera) that you think speaks to the word “Resistance.” Post your photo to the blog (use as featured image) with a brief explanation of why the photograph represents resistance.
  4. DUE March 10 Category: ICP
    Choose a photograph from the show Perpetual Revolution we visited at ICP. Write an analysis of that photograph using John Szarkowski’s criteria of photography analysis: The Thing Itself, The Detail, The Frame, Time, and Vantage Point. Post should be between 250-500 words and can use bullet points for each criteria.
  5. DUE: March 24 Category: Dance
    Analyze one (or all) of the dance performances you saw at Lincoln Center according to the title of the piece. In what way did the dance you saw performed embody the meaning of its title? Use the Elements of Dance to back up your ideas and describe the dance you saw performed. A link to the video on the Elements of Dance can be found in the slideshow, which is posted on the Dance page under Resources. Be sure to introduce your entry by referring to the name of the dance company, the title of the dance, and the venue. ALSO: While at the performance be sure to take notes on all three dances if you are planning to write your Essay 2 on Dance, which will be one of the choices. The full assignment guidelines are forthcoming.
  6.  DUE: April 28 Category: Theater
    A. In a 250-500 word blog post, discuss the role of music in Bring the Beat Back. How was music integrated into the performance? Take note of the points in the performance when music played a role. Why do you think the playwright chose to integrate music at particular points? How did the music function in terms of establishing character, creating atmosphere, driving the plot, or serving another dramatic purpose? Be sure to describe the music as well and how it changed over the course of the performance. What kind of instruments were used? Was it fast-paced? Slow? Did it make you happy? Sad? In what ways did the performance meet or challenge your notions of a musical or musical theater?
    B. In a 250-500 word blog post, analyze the dramatic action of one scene of Bring the Beat Back. Give an overview of the scene: What was the situation? Which characters were present and what were they doing? What were the observable actions? What was the sustained action? What was the motivational action? What was dramatically important about this scene in terms of the play’s overall concept or overarching drama?
    C. Part of the Jack theater’s mission is to be a “radical” space that promotes social justice; in other words, it is meant to be a space of resistance against oppressive structures in the culture at large and in the art world. In a 250-500 word blog post, discuss how Bring the Beat Back fits the Jack’s mission: How is the play resistant? Remember that there are many ways to be resistant: The play might be resistant in its form, in its relationship to traditions of drama or musical theater. The play might be resistant in its treatment of its characters’ identities, such as gender and sexuality. The play might be resistant to large-scale political systems, such as white supremacy. The play might be resistant in other ways not identified here but that you identify yourself.  
  7. Essays

    You will be required to complete two formal essays this semester. The assignment prompt for each will be posted below. Essays, which should follow all rules of MLA style and be written in formal, academic language, will be submitted on Blackboard.

    Essay 2: DUE: May 12, submit on Blackboard only

    Choose ONE of the options below, on Bring the Beat Back (either expanding on your theater blog post or choosing a new topic) or on the Whitney Biennial.

    1. The Whitney Biennial:
      In class, we discussed Dana Schutz’s painting “Open Casket” and the controversy surrounding that artwork as well as visited the Whitney Biennial, in which the painting was exhibited. In a 3-4 page paper, offer your perspective on the painting’s inclusion in the show: Should “Open Casket” have been included in the Whitney Biennial? Why or why not? Your thesis statement should offer your opinion on this question as well as an overarching reason why (or why not), and your body paragraphs should provide the reasoning behind that opinion. Each paragraph should focus on a different reason or issue that informs your opinion. In this paper, it would be important to draw from and to include commentary from the various artists and critics who have weighed in on this issue. HERE is the link for the PowerPoint I showed in class, which includes some of those sources. In addition, you might want to listen to and draw from the Whitney’s public forum on the painting, co-hosted by The Racial Imaginary Institute (you can watch HERE). In addition to considering the painting on its individual merits (or lack thereof), you should consider the larger context of the Whitney Biennial itself and whether this particular artwork belonged in this particular show: What were the themes of the Whitney Biennial? What argument(s) or message(s) do you think the curators were trying to send to visitors? The Whitney Biennial webpage (linked earlier) has some information on the curation of the show, and the curators themselves spoke at the public forum. Any sources you refer to in your paper should be cited using proper MLA style (in a Works Cited list and internal citations).
    2. Choose from A, B, or C, below, on Bring the Beat Back:
      A.
      In a 3-4 page essay, discuss the role of music in
      Bring the Beat Back. How was music integrated into the performance? Take note of the points in the performance when music played a role. Why do you think the playwright chose to integrate music at particular points? How did the music function in terms of establishing character, creating atmosphere, driving the plot, or serving another dramatic purpose? Be sure to describe the music as well and how it changed over the course of the performance. What kind of instruments were used? Was it fast-paced? Slow? Did it make you happy? Sad? In what ways did the performance meet or challenge your notions of a musical or musical theater?Your central claim/thesis statement should make an overarching statement about the role of music in the performance, and your body paragraphs should address unique and specific aspects of the music (For example, one paragraph about how the music enhanced character, and another paragraph on how the music created a specific atmosphere important to the play’s overall message, etc). 

      B. In a 3-4 page essay, analyze the dramatic action of several scenes of Bring the Beat Back. Give an overview of each scene: What was the situation? Which characters were present and what were they doing? What were the observable actions? What was the sustained action? What was the motivational action? What was dramatically important about this scene in terms of the play’s overall concept or overarching drama?

      Your central claim/thesis statement should make a general statement about the play’s dramatic purpose/message, and each body paragraph should address a key/individual scene that contributed to the play’s overall dramatic purpose/message. 

      C. Part of the Jack theater’s mission is to be a “radical” space that promotes social justice; in other words, it is meant to be a space of resistance against oppressive structures in the culture at large and in the art world. In a 250-500 word blog post, discuss how Bring the Beat Back fits the Jack’s mission: How is the play resistant? Remember that there are many ways to be resistant: The play might be resistant in its form, in its relationship to traditions of drama or musical theater. The play might be resistant in its treatment of its characters’ identities, such as gender and sexuality. The play might be resistant to large-scale political systems, such as white supremacy. The play might be resistant in other ways not identified here but that you identify yourself.  

      Your central claim/thesis statement should make a general statement about the play’s relationship to the Jack’s mission of resistance, and each body paragraph should address a specific way that the play was resistant.

Essay 1: DUE: March 17 — SUBMIT ON BLACKBOARD

Option 1
In a 3-4 page paper, write an essay in which you offer an analysis of I’m Nobody! Who Are You? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson at the Morgan Library & Museum. For a thesis statement, weigh in on what overall message the exhibition provides about its subject “the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson.” Support your thesis statement in body paragraphs that focus on the different ways the show contributes to that overall message, each body paragraph focusing on a different aspect of the show. To support your ideas, you should describe some specific elements of the exhibition: The space in which the objects were displayed, the choice of objects displayed, the information on the walls, etc. If you like, you may quote from The New York Times review of the show and/or information found on the Morgan Library’s website, links to both of which may be found under Resources>Morgan Library & Dickinson on our course website. You may also draw from your blog post on the show.
Option 2
In a 3-4 page paper, write an essay in which you offer an analysis of Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change at the International of Photography. For a thesis statement, weigh in on what overall message the exhibition provides. Support your thesis statement in body paragraphs that focus on the different ways the show contributes to that overall message, each body paragraph focusing on a different aspect of the show, with an emphasis on the photographs. In addition to a detailed analysis of at least three photographs – drawing when necessary on the readings by Szarkowski and Sontag – you may also want to comment on the space in which the photographs were displayed, how they were displayed, the choice of which photographs to display, the information on the walls, etc. If you like, you may quote from The New York Times review of the show and/or information found on the ICP website, links to both of which may be found under Resources>On Photography on our course website. You may also draw from your blog post on the ICP.

See sub-page under Assignments for directions for the Final Digital Project

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