ARTS 234
A Watery Place: Photography and the Fluid Process of Belonging Spring 2023
Division I

Class Details

“I am a singular, dynamic whorl dissolving in a complex, fluid circulation,” writes the feminist and environmental theorist Astrida Neimanis. How may we use lens-based media to think through belonging in more fluid terms? This studio course in photography explores belonging as an unfixed, continuous process. What does belonging mean to you? Can you belong to something that you can’t see, or, as the poet Warsan Shire writes, to a place that won’t let you stay? How are our attachments shaped, disrupted, and conjured? From instagram accounts archiving images of communities pre-gentrification, to experimental films about family made with weather-damaged film, to self portraiture and documentations of a changing landscape, this course explores the nuances that photography and lens-based media may reveal about the political and affective dimensions of belonging. The emphasis of the course will be on the creation of photographic and lens-based artwork, to be discussed in critique. We’ll support our process by first studying texts and artworks that situate belonging in relation to place and place-making, geography, and ecology. We’ll expand into more fluid embodiments of belonging, particularly in the context of migrations and diasporas, family and community, spirituality, climate change and our futures. We’ll speculate how lens-based media may not only visualize experiences of belonging (or non-belonging), but facilitate connection. Technically, students will learn more advanced techniques in Photoshop and inkjet printing, and will explore various paper types, material possibilities, and installation techniques.
The Class: Format: studio
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3558
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students must budget 10 hours a week outside of class to photograph/film, edit, print, read, and write. Knowledge of making photographs or video with dslr cameras, and editing/printing with Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop are required. Students will be evaluated on their effort and active participation, contributions to discussions and critiques, midterm critique, final project, and artist statement.
Prerequisites: Art majors who have taken a prior photo class at Williams, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: Art majors working with themes of identity politics, home, place and the environment in their artwork and/or research.
Materials/Lab Fee: $250 - $350. Lab and materials fees for all studio art classes are covered by the Book Grant for all Williams financial aid recipients.
Distributions: Division I

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