The meat of my studies is in Visual Arts and since my first term here at Bennington I’ve been taking a wide variety of courses within VA with a variety of very talented and inspiring teachers, all of whom are actively making work both in and out of Bennington.
I’d have to say that in this past year as a sophmore, I’ve developed a really close relationship with my sculpture and slip-casting (ceramics) teacher Yoko Inoue. She’s really redefined what it means for me to produce visual work here at Bennington. She strongly emphasizes the importance of context and research. I’m currently taking a class with her called The Social Life of Sculpture, an advanced sculpture class. She’s gotten us to submit formal, in depth proposals for our final projects of the term that we had to present to the class for midterms. One of her many goals for us is for us to understand the importance behind being able to critically articulate our ideas, in a similar way as artists do when they apply for grants and residency programs around the world. She drives the conceptual and intellectual side of art-making, constantly pushing us to re-evaluate and question our work in order to imagine it in the world beyond our campus. She’s become a personal mentor of mine; she’s not only a teacher but also a friend that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with in NYC for the casual lunch date to talk about art, Bennington and life.
I believe this to be true for most Bennington students across all disciplines. Everyone, at some point along the way, finds that one (or even two, or three) faculty member who they connect and grow with.
If you’re interested in learning more about what Yoko does and seeing her work, here are a couple links:
Hope this feeds your interest :)
First, there are no formal programs at Bennington in any discipline, just a bunch of cool faculty members who want to teach students no matter what their experience level or expertise is.
That being said, sculpture and architecture work in a similar way as literature or math might, from day one you are working in the studio, diving in dumpsters for cardboard, or cutting up butter board or doing whatever you need to do to make your work. The other cool thing about those disciplines, like all disciplines at Bennington, is that students in the classes are coming from a wide variety of backgrounds. So, for example in one of my sculpture classes a music student (who also builds his own guitars) made several sculptures surrounding music. Another student who studies costume design was in a self declared “Princess phase” and decided to make a throne when we were asked to design a place to sit.
Field Work Terms vary greatly between students. I worked for a furniture builder building furniture. My friend who did the music sculptures worked for Jason Middlebrook, a sculptor. Another sculpture friend went to Uganda to teach art. Architecture wise students sometimes find jobs in architecture studios. A friend of mine wrote articles about old historic buildings around Philadelphia and another worked as a TA at a university in Ecuador. Basically whatever you can dream up you can find.
If you have any questions or would love to chat more I would love to talk, shoot me an email email@example.com
The sun majestically perforated the clouds this morning, striking one lone snow-tipped mountain. For some, these rays breaking through the windows of their sleepy dorm rooms stimulated their natural circadian responses, and they rose up like the rest of their animal brothers and sisters in the woods. For others, however, this dawn meant only that another hour had passed in their sleep-deprived delirium. Why, I sometimes ask myself, at a school where there are ostensibly no “requirements,” where we are free to design our own education, do we CHOOSE to do this? The answer, I think, is because we love our work so much.
Here’s what some of us are doing for finals. Check it out:
Trying to help my friend construct a sculpture earlier this month pushed me into foreign territory. I found myself wishing that I knew more about physics. It didn’t help when I looked around and saw this:
A creation by Chendru Starkloff who is using his understanding of physics and tapping in to professors here to make some really interesting work.
The assignment for the Intro to Sculpture class was to create a sculpture that captures a movement you do everyday. His action: mounting his bike.
I surveyed other interns in the office (and a few I pestered on Facebook) and here is what I found (we limited our selections to classes offered this fall that are open to first year students, i.e. nothing advanced):
Forests: An Introduction to Ecology and Evolution with Kerry Woods
Ben ‘13: “Any class where you get to go on weekly field trips with ecology professor Kerry Woods will change your life.”
Ezra ’13 adds: “It was the class that kick started my interest in ecology - it’s really well-constructed; students learn to ask rigorous questions ABOUT science as well as becoming comfortable with scientific literature. Also, the labs are phenomenal!”
Fundamentals of Spatial Thinking and Making with Jon Isherwood.
Amira ‘12: You’re exposed to working with so many different materials, including clay, wood, metal. But the really great part is that even though its an introductory class, you’re still required to call upon a personal aesthetic to complete assignments. So even though it’s assignment based and everyone is working on a common project, you’re able to incorporate your own artistic vision.”
Electronic Music: Creativity and Sound with Randall Neal
Ezra ‘13: ”This class gets you listening to everything as music – the huge revelation of the early experimenters in tape and processed sound is that music is “organized sound,” not just of instruments and voices, but also of machines, animals, and artificial noise. You listen to lots of classic and contemporary electronic music, learn the basics of pro-tools and recording, and make two larger pieces. It’s a great class to take from the get-go if you’re interested in any of the arts, because it improves your ability to listen with open ears and gives you a chance to pursue your own aesthetic and ideas through the projects.”
First-Year Dance Intensive with Terry Creach
Julia ‘15: “It was great because there were definitely a lot of freshman in it but there were also students from a lot of different years who were exploring dance for the first time; so it was low-pressure in that you weren’t expected to be an expert at anything coming in, but at the same time you were treated with the same respect as as a more advanced dance student (I took it with Susan Sgorbati, but I’m sure Terry Creach is the same). I think it’s a good way to find out if Bennington-style modern dance is something that you want to continue with.”
Social Psychology with Ron Cohen
Ellie ‘13: This is an amazing introduction to social psychology, the study of individual behavior within a social context. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn, through practice and readings, how to conduct social psychological research, even in your very first term at Bennington. It also will completely change the way you look and think about the world around you!
An Introduction to the Art of Sound Design with Julie Last and Scott Lehrer
Insiyah ‘12: Its a really great introduction to different ways of thinking about sound and it’s also a nice class to have if you’re thinking about video, theater, or visual arts, because a lot of people use this as an opportunity to design sound for visual work. It’s great because you get a lot of technical experience but you also do all this reading that helps you build your conceptual ideas about sound.”
Introduction to Pure Mathematics with Andrew McIntyre
Evan ’13: “What is important is that Andrew teaches math in a way that no one else does. You learn to look at an equation or a problem and break down what each part of the numbers is doing. Andrew asks you to consider what the equation is supposed to be doing; what it does at time-initial; what it does at time-infinity; and if all of that makes sense. Not only does he change the way you think about math, but the way you think about math, I’ve found, has a profound bearing on the ways you think about problem-solving and numbers themselves.
Philosophical Reasoning with Paul Voice
Akhurapa ’14: “It is unique among philosophy classes here in that it provides a survey of different topics in western philosophy (ethics, epistemology, meaning of life etc)
It serves as a great introduction to western philosophy and allows students to develop their skills writing social science essays and formulating and developing arguments/analysis. Bonus points because Paul is great!”
Insider Perspectives on the French-Speaking World with Stephen Shapiro
Fizza ’13: “Firstly, an introductory language class would be just great across the board - language classes here are broad in a way that no matter where we land in terms of our medium (visual arts, science, social science) we will find them contributing to our work. Also, Stephen is wonderful: helpful and fun as a teacher. His classes are entertaining and he really knows how to teach the foreign tongue. He is really broad and will be especially supportive if you are really motivated or are interested in something wild - he is teaching some kids Latin.
The Journey III: The 1860s with Eileen Scully
Jan ’14: “From the fact that this survey history course requires you to keep a ‘substantial personal journal, writing weekly letters to fictive friends and family,’ you might deduce (correctly) that Eileen is an unconventional history teacher. Her classes are the most open-ended of any I’ve had at Bennington, with almost unlimited possibilities for projects - a few years ago, one student put on a puppet show about Russian history for her final. I dislike this word, but I would call her classes “emergent” - they begin like a blank slate and gradually, Eileen and the students negotiate the terms of the class and what they want to get out of it. And she’s genuinely brilliant but she, more than any other professor I’ve had here, avoids imposing: her classes are all genuinely different because they all develop in an organic way. Take this course if you want to find new ways of thinking about and experiencing history but also if you want a classroom experience that will make you consider deeply what it means to be and learn as a Bennington student.”
The Actor’s Instrument with Kirk Jackson or Jenny Rohn
Sarah ’12: It’s really an amazing way to either dip your toes in or review the basics. It covers a lot of different techniques and exercises and both Kirk and Jenny are great!