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Faculty, University Art Museum Recognized at State of the University System Address

Results of a Three-Year, Interdisciplinary Project Shared at the SOTUS Campus Showcase

From left: Edward Schwarzschild, Daniel Goodwin and Corinna Ripps Schaming. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 5, 2019) – Faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and representatives from the University Art Museum presented the results of a three-year collaborative project at the 2019 State of the University System Campus Showcase.

The interdisciplinary project began three years ago as a set of courses taught through the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of English and the University Art Museum, according to Danny Goodwin, an associate professor of art and the director of the studio art program in the Department of Art and Art History.

Goodwin developed and taught the art courses in conjunction with Corinna Ripps Schaming, interim director and curator of the museum, and Edward Schwarzschild, an associate professor and director of creative writing in the Department of English and a fellow of the New York State Writers Institute.

Holding classes at the museum and allowing the exhibitions to generate discussions, materials and ideas for research provided students with a type of hands-on learning experience that would not otherwise be possible in a traditional classroom setting, Goodwin said.

“These courses, based on the exhibitions Race, Love and Labor and Future Perfect, helped encourage students to interact with art by working, reflecting and exploring in the space itself,” he said. “We wanted to help convey that curatorial practice and artistic production themselves constitute research, not merely illustrate or support academic endeavors.”

Last spring, UAlbany joined Skidmore College, Colgate University and Hamilton College in hosting a portion of This Place, a photography exhibition that featured more than 600 images taken by 12 internationally acclaimed photographers.

This Place, initiated by French photographer Frédéric Brenner, “explores the complexity of Israel and the West Bank as place and metaphor,” according to the exhibition’s website.

As part of the collaboration, Goodwin and Schwarzschild served as faculty liaisons, recruiting 16 faculty members from across the University to implement 22 courses during the 2018-2019 academic year with This Place exhibition material.

A special project grant from the Teagle Foundation, awarded in 2015, encouraged and supported the creation of a series of events and workshops, as well as student trips, exhibitions and publications at the University that were connected directly with the collection of courses, according to Schwarzschild.

Schaming said the goal of the project was to increase first-hand encounters with art and to raise awareness in the value of interdisciplinary teaching, particularly with the role of museum exhibitions.

“No matter what discipline you’re studying, there’s a visual language and culture that we all participate in, and museums are key to opening up those important dialogues.” Schaming said. “Not only is museum pedagogy a discipline and a form of research, but it’s a way of meaningfully responding to our contemporary world.”

The nexus of museums and a diverse array of other disciplines facilitates a powerful form of learning, one that uniquely enrichens a student’s educational experience, said Michael Christakis, vice president for student affairs at UAlbany.

“We can sometimes get lost in the language of ‘interdisciplinarity,’ but if you are a 17-year-old coming to a public university and you have a nationally-renowned contemporary art museum at your fingertips, that’s ultimately a real game changer in terms of transforming the quality and value of a student’s time on campus,” he said.

Read more on This Place.

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