Summer Reading Project

Contemporary Practice
Assignment 1

Due: First Day of Class

Contemporary Practice allows first-year students to strengthen their voices through creative and social collaboration with their peers. Vital components of Contemporary Practice—ones that facilitate and support the first-year students’ understanding of their place at SFAI and in the Bay Area art landscape—are introductions to the school’s array of studio practices, studio critiques, and field trips to museums, galleries, artists’ studios, public art sites, and other urban sites. These activities are central to experiencing how artists and viewers communicate, represent, and make meaning of the world around them. Additional co-curricular initiatives such as workshops, public lectures, and exhibition openings in which students participate help to foster understanding of how the tensions produced by the interaction of cultural, social, and personal forces foster critical thinking and artistic opportunity.

To prepare you for some of the questions and conversations we will engage in this course, we have chosen several articles as your summer readings. These articles touch upon exhibition/ institutional cultures, interdisciplinary art practice, and what makes “contemporary art” contemporary, and are meant to provoke and challenge your thoughts about pressing issues for artists today.

Read each article and provide a 125 word response to each question listed blow.

These responses will be collected on the first day of class.

1. “Tales from the Crit: For Art Students, May is the Cruelest Month” (Jori Finkel, 2006)
How is the art school critique framed in this article? How does this author frame the critique as a negative experience? Offer a counter-position to the tone of this article. How can critiques be generative or positive?

2. “Contemporary art does not account for that which is taking place” (Liam Gillick, 2010)
Summarize your understanding of Gillick’s critique of “contemporary art.” How do you relate to the designation of “contemporary art”? What do you think defines the “contemporary” in contemporary art?

3. “Kate Rhoades and the Labyrinth of Discarded Materials at Recology SF” (Emily K. Holmes, 2016)
Rhoades is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in diverse media including painting, video, and comics. How have the articles and videos influenced your thinking about working with diverse materials and mediums? Also, besides the obvious “politically correct” notion of working with recycled materials, what do you think about the aesthetics or storylines the puppets represent?

4. “The Monolith” (Gary Kamiya, 2016)
This article makes clear the contradictions present in the exhibitionism, institutionalism, and accessibility of art in respect to the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). As you begin the next phase in developing your art practice at SFAI, how does the negative and positive critique of the expanded SFMOMA influence your thoughts as an artist?

Contact: Paul Klein, Chair, BFA Department—

Foundations in Global Art History
Assignment 2

Due: First Day of Class

Please read E. H. Gombrich’s “On Art and Artists,” enclosed with Road Map. This essay asks you to look at art and the world around you, not just carefully, or in the terms of what you like or identify with—but curiously. It suggests that the study of art history and visual studies demands a fresh and “curious eye,” and not necessarily a “good eye” (to borrow a  distinction developed by the art historian Irit Rogoff). A curious eye is eager to know, as much as it is perhaps “a bit odd” and willing to go to strange places, or to look at familiar places strangely. 

On the first day of Foundations in Global Art History, we will talk about how we might apply Gombrich’s suggestions. Bring questions you might have about the essay to class and we will work together to answer them. 

Contact: Nicole Archer, Chair, BA Department—

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