MEXICO: Color, Mestizaje and Design Futures
Faculty: Kate Irvin (RISD Museum)
3 credits (TEXT-1020-01) | Date: TBA
Students in this course will be introduced to the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and its biodiverse environs as home to a radical mixture of cultures and ethnicities: Zapotec, Mixtec, and a host of other indigenous communities; mestizos, or those with mixed Spanish and indigenous heritage; as well as the historically under-recognized AfroMexican communities. They will be exposed to the region’s internationally regarded textiles, ceramics, and cuisine, as well as to the complex practices of using plants, insects, and shellfish as dyes and colorants. With an understanding in place of the rich foundation of ancient, precolonial techniques and material culture, students will experience the vibrant postcolonial culture of contemporary artistic practice that has been fueled by political activism, self-determination, and local artistic support and patronage. They will see and respond to the ways in which centuries of social inequities brought about by Spanish colonial subordination are being addressed and repaired through the reclamation of artisanal expertise and through the social reach of activist graphic arts messaging. The studio component of the course will immerse students in Oaxaca’s vibrant cultural, social and artistic history by focusing on materials and colorants that have moved from ancient use to colonial appropriation to indigenous repossession, including indigo blues, shellfish purple, and cochineal, a brilliant pink-red color extracted from cactus-eating insects that was also one of the most lucrative Spanish colonial exports. Via collaborative workshops organized by Oaxfornia, students will learn from and engage with traditional techniques and applications of color while recording their personal artistic responses to these exchanges. In the latter part of the course students will interact with local instructors and visiting artist Christina Kim to process and apply lessons from their cross cultural exchanges to create graphic arts projects developed within the context of Centro de Arte de San Agustín (CaSa), an arts center with an international residency program and a conceptual infrastructure based on local ecology and community.
Estimated Travel Cost: $3,717 (includes airfare, tuition, accommodation, field trips, local transportation, group dinners + some meals, museum entrances, health and travel insurance).