“Notable courses” is a blog series in which we will highlight some of the amazing courses offered at Quest University Canada. We talked to the tutors and students about their classes and gathered some pictures to illustrate what the students were up to during the block. This time we talked to Amara Hark-Weber about her Sculptural Footwear class.
Here is what she said:
What is the main (meta) goal of this course?
The goal of this course was to explore the intersection between concept, craft, and design, using footwear as the lens through which exploration took place.
What concepts are explored in the course?
The course was three fold, with equal amounts of time spent on research/information gathering, planning/practicing/designing/prototyping, and actually making.
What projects do students complete in order to reach this goal?
Students had daily movement exercises, presentations on footwear history and style, research projects on individual designers/artists, and reflection papers on their learning process. Additionally, they created design portfolios using their research as the jumping off point for their designs. We also covered basic craftsmanship/leather skills, and students made samplers to practice at least 5 techniques. Students constructed 5-10 prototypes of design ideas on paper, and finally constructed a pair of (sculptural) shoes based on one of these prototypes.
How does Quest’s structure of not having departments and being on the block system help create or benefit courses like this?
The intensity of the block system was total immersion for the students, allowing them freedom to delve deeply into the material without distraction, and give complete focused attention to their projects. Because we worked every day, there was continuity of ideas and strong community building, which allowed for rigorous examination of ideas and processes.
What deeper issues, beyond face value, does it address? / What can students expect to receive from completing the course (again, beyond face value)?
On its face, this is a studio arts class. But, we had challenging discussions about commercial culture, style, celebrity, and consumerism. Students began to view an everyday object — the shoe — in a different way, as an object with a long history and trajectory into the future, and this view can be applied to objects all around us. Students found new value in using their hands as well as their minds, and in solving puzzles that they themselves had created. They learned to trust themselves and the actions of their bodies, treating and interrogating movement and the physical world as one might any subject in the social or applied sciences. Perhaps most importantly, they allowed themselves to be a beginner and play in a new medium, seeing where it takes them and learning to see and question design or craft choices in their own work and the built environment. After their final critique I asked students if they were relieved to be done. They said, “No, we are just getting started!’