2023-2024 Catalog

ARTH 380 Art/Work

Art has long had a contradictory relationship to work. On the one hand, the artist is the consummate worker – passionately investing their full self in what they create. On the other hand, the artist is the supreme non-worker, the dreamer who refuses to compromise their vision for the sake of efficiency, profit, utility, or other external pressures. Since the 1960s this contradiction has become internalized into the very themes, processes, forms, and value of art itself. While the definition of an artwork has expanded far beyond traditional media like paintings and sculptures, the definition of work has likewise expanded to encompass a bewildering array of activities, capacities, and sites. This course will examine the intersections between art and work in different parts of the world since the 1960s and address questions such as: how have artists intentionally blurred the distinction between art and labor?  How have processes such as automation and globalization impacted artistic production across local, regional and national boundaries? How have artists made visible the changing class, racial, and gender relations of work? What new forms of power or resistance have the increasing overlaps between art and work enabled? Close discussion of assigned readings and the writing of a research paper will form the basis of the course.


Students will meet 3 hours / week with the faculty member, plus conduct research and writing and work outside the course for at least 12 hours of work.


ARTH 290

Core Requirements Met

  • Fine Arts
  • Global Connections