border crossing

To fully understand and appreciate the world in which we live we need to become adept at crossing borders.

Many of us cross borders everyday. These "borders" may be physical, but they also may be economic, cultural, psychological, or even sexual. Sometimes we pass unnoticed through invisible walls--as when you as a student enter the privileged space of a University campus. Other times we may feel like "strangers in a strange land." Conflicting emotions of curiosity, fear, distrust, or secret longing cloud our judgement. We automically scan for familiar patterns and signs--thereby imposing our own order on the world. Such practices can lead to unfortunate consequences: sometimes similar visual cues have vastly different meanings for different people. How can we learn to acknowledge and affirm the unfamiliar ground on the "other side of the fence?" How can we learn to become confident, yet sensitive, border crossers? To become conscious about the range of differences that make up our world is to become, in essence, good neighbors. To be a good neighbor requires energy, empathy, and patience. By listening and being sensitive to the ways of others, we can begin to appreciate and understand the wisdom of other practices, beliefs, and ways of being in the world.

As artists, how can we cross borders without claiming the territory as our own? We must learn to be sensitive to differences and be open to new ways of giving voice and expression to the unfamiliar.

Inquiry Questions

1) Describe a moment when you felt like a trespasser or found yourself unexpectedly in unfamiliar territory.

2) As visual artists, how can we become better "border crossers"?

3) What are some examples of contemporary "visual art" that do not fit into a "modern" definition of art practice?

4) Is it possible to create a work of art that is NOT about yourself?


1. Group Unity Principles (ref., 2D Studio Fundamentals, UNIT III: Unity)

2. Talking Patterns (ref., 2D Studio Fundamentals, UNIT VI: Patterning)

3. Pavilion for the Opposite Sex (ref., 3D Studio Fundamentals, UNIT III: Space Frames)