Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

An Artist’s Life: Diverse Voices and Changing Contexts


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This course has space available. An application is not required for this seminar.

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Sustaining a career as a visual artist takes entrepreneurship, creativity, and clarity about your goals, yet there are myriad possible ways to succeed and thrive as an artist. How do emerging artists connect to and contribute to an artistic community that supports what they do? How do artists create space for their work, or even create their own contexts? If you chose to be an artist, how will you sustain yourself financially and spiritually on your own unique path? This class seeks to demystify what it takes to live an artist’s life, while also helping you find your voice and passion, which is what makes this work life affirming as well as world changing.

If you want to explore a career in the visual arts, perhaps leading to an Art Practice major or minor at Stanford, but don’t quite know what that path would look like, this course is for you. The class will consist of a series of studio projects, each centered around a different guest artist whose career and art practice we will study. The example artists will be primarily artists of color or artists from underrepresented communities in the art world, such as queer or trans artists, with careers ranging from the conventional to the more unusual. These artist selections model the possibilities of an art career for students who do not see themselves represented in the mainstream art world, while broadening all students’ understanding of the different methods for making work and practicing as an artist today.

Through four introductory studio projects, and a longer personal final project, this course will allow you to hone your artistic concerns through a wide range of media and contexts. We will work with drawing & sculptural media (using a kit of shipped materials), digital media, photography, video, performance, and conceptual themes like designing an “anti-monument” or honoring your spiritual ancestors. You will be asked to consider how your personal voice can be expressed through introspection, engagement with your own history, cultural subjectivities, and activism. You will also research and create and share an online presentation of an artist who inspires your work.

While this course will be taught online, activities like shared sketchbooks we will mail to each other every week, personal subject matter, and our discussions with guest artists, will bring us together as a community. We will meet twice a week for an hour and twenty minutes online, but will often break into smaller groups for discussions or sharing work. Assignments outside of class will allow you to work in analog media (acrylic paint & clay included in the shipped materials kit) as well as digitally using free or provided software (like Adobe Creative Suite). Students will need access to a Mac or PC computer, a phone-camera or any other form of digital camera, and be able to be online during class time with shared audio, and video as needed to show work. We will also create asynchronous means of posting and sharing work to mitigate any bandwidth issues we all may face.

Camille & Terry are excited to get to know you and your work, and to share our own paths & passions for art with you in this IntroSem course!

Meet the Instructor(s)

Terry Berlier

"I am excited to co-teach this class because I wish I could have taken this as an undergraduate. Every artist has a unique career path. I love meeting artists to learn about their practice, ways it changed over time, and how they have established themselves. I am a queer, interdisciplinary artist who now works mostly in sculpture although I began as a painter. I see my own practice as a playful, open-ended, experimental process. I act as an archaeologist excavating material objects to challenge our understanding of progress and reveal how history is constructed within a cultural landscape. As part of this, I investigate the evolution of human interaction with the natural world, queerness, and ecologies. This often results in sculptures that are kinetic and sound-based, and multi-media installations. I am currently exploring desire lines, the landscape architecture term for marks left on the ground when one veers from the normative path, to explore queer resistence."

Camille Utterback

"I majored in art as an undergrad because my art professors challenged my thinking and understanding of myself in profound ways. I decided that if continually questioning and re-making my world was what art was, I was all in. It took me another ten years, and a graduate program in interactive telecommunications, to begin to find my own artistic voice and an art career. That happened when I discovered computer programming and interaction design and applied my feminist understanding to these fields to help create a new field of interactive installation art that honored our embodied experiences. I like to think about how current technologies limit and underserve the sensual and shared aspects of our humanity, then re-configure these same tools to create new possibilities for how they could amplify these instead. Lately, I have been trying to combine digital screens with kiln formed glass."