Summer Intensive Program Challenges Advanced Art Students
Students experienced art and nature while developing as artists in accelerated and intensive summer program
December 17, 2017
For centuries artists have been drawn to the natural beauty of the diverse landscapes in Utah. The vast expanses of deep canyons, majestic mountains and rich red rock have inspired some artists to use the land itself as their medium. Wide stretches of desolate desert and star-soaked skies continue to inspire artists today, including Department Chair Gary Barton – who, together with Associate Professor Daniel Everett, designed an intensive art immersion program to challenge advanced art students to meaningfully engage with the land as an artistic subject.
The Summer Intensive Program, which combines ART 394R (Special Projects) and ART 480R (Advanced Studio) for a full course load during the summer term, took students beyond the classroom for what Everett described as a “first-hand, un-mediated interaction with art and nature.”
Classes were scheduled all day on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the term for instruction, critiques and field trips that focused on experiencing the landscape while making art. Several of the trips included camping at significant sites, providing students with time and space to grow as artists and as people, and to develop a strong sense of community.
Extended trips together strengthened students’ relationships not only with each other, but also with their professors. Time spent in close quarters allowed students to personally observe how Barton and Everett approach their own art-making. This is critically valuable, Everett said, and difficult to effectively teach in a classroom.
In the program’s debut this past summer, students visited the following locations:
While some of the sites provided important artwork for the students to view and experience, others served to inspire the students in creating their own art. By the end of the term, students completed a wide range of projects, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, prints, fiber-based works, videos, performances, installations and sound works.
“From a textbook, one can discuss theory and concept,” said Brynne Capps, a student who participated in the summer program. “From a gallery or a purposeful setting, one feels the presence of art and can discern the power – or lack thereof – personally.”
“From a gallery or a purposeful setting, one feels the presence of art and can discern the power—or lack thereof—personally.”
Although the program is meant to be fun and inspiring, the instructors maintained high expectations. Students were required to log at least 20 hours of studio time each week – in addition to time spent in class – and to participate in detailed critiques of each other’s work.
Capps said that although the requirements were sometimes stressful, it was worth it. “I worked harder for and gained more from this class than any other class I have taken at BYU,” she said. “Ultimately, I was able to do more work and better work than I had previously hoped.”
For student James Talbot, the opportunity to produce a large body of work within a relatively short period of time – and with few prescribed limitations – was the highlight of the program. “I took away a sharper focus into what I was interested in as an artist, and a better way of capturing that,” Talbot said. “My experience is really helping shape my artistic voice.”
The Summer Intensive Program was made possible by a generous experiential learning grant, which funded student travel and lodging. For more information about the university’s experiential learning initiative, see President Worthen’s Inspiring Learning address.
Priscilla Stewart will present her research on place- and ecology-based education at the National Art Education Association’s National Convention, the premier conference for K12 art educators and university researchers