Catherine Clinger, Allan Stone Chair in the Visual Arts
College of the Atlantic
We all think differently and approach knowledge from diverse horizons. These art history classes are structured around works of art and readings that reflect this. The authors of the readings are art historians, critics, essayists, novelists, scientists, mathematicians, artists, poets and philosophers, among others. Their fields of study may appear unrelated; however, the set-readings have correspondences with one another. This strategy allows for the possibility that a student may resonate with a passage that another student may find irksome during the preparation for the next class. The contrasting positions of the texts, whether they are critical disagreements, unconventional viewpoints or divergent historical perspectives, prime the student’s mind for further enquiry. Through the readers’ synthesis of the readings, the preliminary case has been made for the class as a whole to reconcile different stories about the same object of study.
The assignation of these readings has another purpose as well. Besides preparing the student for a classroom discussion, promoting visits to the library, and encouraging contemplation in the natural world, it is my conviction that reading helps one to learn about writing. By coming into contact with varied styles of descriptive, plainly written interpretation or lucid theoretical writing, the student experiences the instructive, sometimes inspired, effect of the credible, well-written message. In all of my courses, I assert that cogent and engaged writing affords readers their best chance at gaining a deeper understanding of an object that they may never have direct contact with. If one truly desires to be heard through writing and argumentation, one must recognize the obligation of clarity in expression, written and verbal.
As a scholar, my research bridges three areas of study which encompass European and American Art from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries; Romanticism and critical theory, print culture in the transnational fields of science and technology, and the emerging field of the ecological humanities. My research projects and publications integrate these intellectual concerns, particularly with regard to questions of human/nature interface, environmental aesthetics, the metaphysics of language, and notions of interiority. Through my research within the visual culture of subterranea throughout these periods, I seek to confirm a vertical model for nature and philosophical thought that reaches downward and toward the inside of the Earth and the mind.
My studio courses are structured so that students can stretch with their own individual visions. I am an advocate of observational drawing, mapping locations in the landscape for spatial exercise, and cultivating the perception of virtual screen space as a matrix. I taught printmaking during the transition from toxic to green methods of creation. I restructure course syllabi and class meetings to reflect the aptitude and spirit of a certain group of students. The dynamic of the company of creative souls from one class to another is something that governs how the studio course develops as a whole. In these studio classes, theory and practice are taught simultaneously while I make a distinction between design, process, and conceptual creativity, I also acknowledge activist purpose and spiritual insight as valid and compelling contributors to artistic production.