Inheritance by Katherine Groesbeck

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ART 485 A: Alternative Contexts: Site Responsive Interventions

Operations and teaching are online. Current and prospective students: please visit our COVID-19 Updates pages. Faculty and staff are available via email.
Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 2:20pm
* *
Whitney Lynn
Whitney Lynn

Syllabus Description:


Spring 2021 | Meeting Time: T/TH 11:30am-2:20pm


Instructor: Whitney Lynn (she/her) | Interdisciplinary Visual Arts 
Virtual Office Hours: by appointment
Contact: Utilize the direct messaging tool in Canvas or post a question in the Q&A Forum



This course will explore possibilities for producing works that engage with non-traditional exhibition spaces (outside of the conventional gallery system/white cube environments). We will consider how the spatial, social and historical contexts of a site impact the reception of the art, and will examine the historical lineage of art interventions as a means to develop contemporary forms. Focusing on experimental and conceptual approaches, our exploration will include artworks designed for public spaces, publication projects, and virtual/web-based projects. Students will work both independently and collaboratively to produce their own site-responsive interventions, creating artworks designed to interact with existing structures or situations.

Interdisciplinary and experimental approaches are encouraged.

Under-Discussion.jpg Image: Allora & Calzadilla, Under Discussion, 2005


Students will be able to:

  • Develop artworks that are site-responsive/attentive to issues of context
  • Write a project statement, articulating ideas to both art and non-art audiences
  • Analyze the impact of site/exhibition contexts on how meaning is constructed
  • Work both independently and on a creative team to organize a public exhibition/event
  • Demonstrate knowledge of contemporary art and ability to interpret works of art taking into account historical, social, political and philosophical contexts



This course will be taught online and you will need to have access to a device that connects to the internet so that you can access Canvas and Zoom. It is recommended that you participate in the course on a computer or laptop as we will be sharing our screens and making use of various features on Zoom that are best accessed on larger devices rather than mobile ones. Students can borrow tech equipment from STLP or the SoACC.

If you are running into trouble accessing either Canvas or Zoom, or need general help with learning technologies and visual resources, contact Morgan Bell, who can respond to questions and/or set up a virtual training.

 Staying on track 

All course details and materials will be posted on our Canvas course site and accessible through weekly Modules. Announcements will be occasionally be sent out to communicate information about upcoming course activities and to post course-related topics. Check your Canvas notification preferences, if you would like to receive Announcements via email. If you don't set up email notifications, plan to click on the Announcements tab before each class.

 Adobe CC 

We will have access to Adobe software for this class -- there are 24 computers in two labs in the Art building setup with Remote Access to allow off-site connection. In addition to Adobe CC, there are a slew of 3D applications, for those of you who are interested.

The link to the remote access dashboard with instructions on use is here: 
The keys are you must use the VPN to connect to the UW network first and then use the free Microsoft Remote Desktop for connection. Also important is to be sure to quit or logout of the windows session rather than just closing the window.

If you have general questions about the course or course-related materials, post your question in the Questions & Answers Forum. This designated help forum in the Discussions tab allows all students in the course to benefit from the responses, and I will check this section frequently to answer any questions that arise. In addition to my responses, students are invited to answer the questions of their peers in this section. Please note: unless you have a personal issue to discuss, I prefer that you use this forum to ask course-related questions, rather than email.



 Presence and Participation 
It is my expectation that students enrolled in this course are serious about their work, willing to establish a routine for producing art, and will be dedicated to producing art that is research-driven and guided by integrity and personal conviction.

Although we will be meeting online, active participation is still a requirement for this course and will help enable an atmosphere of collaboration and communication. The expectations for participation are the same as for an in-person class: everyone is required to contribute thoughtful comments and questions during discussions (or in online forums), engage in class exercises, support your peers' work through thoughtfully responding to their questions/comments and work, and demonstrate that you are invested in your own work and learning. Committing to active engagement certainly will help the overall class dynamic, but it will also make the class more enjoyable for you, too.

 Zoom camera 

Keeping your video on during Zoom sessions helps build social rapport since we convey a lot of information through facial expressions and body language. However, I understand that there might be reasons why you want or need to keep your camera off. If your camera is off, you will still need to contribute to the conversation to earn points for participation (verbally and/or through chat). 

 Time Zone/Schedule Issues for Synchronous Class Sessions 

Students who anticipate persistent challenges to participating in synchronous class sessions should indicate this in the course questionnaire and follow up with me to make alternate arrangements as soon as possible. 

The goal of critiques is for everyone in the class to gain something from the conversation (not only the person presenting their work). For the person presenting their work, they have the opportunity to receive feedback, and for participants, there is the opportunity to hone our skills in connecting what we see/experience with language. Critiques allow the opportunity to take into account the work presented, issues of site/context, the viewer(s)/audience, and the encounter between these elements. Through our discussions, we will address contemporary issues in art, historical precedents, formal/material/spatial considerations, and work together to understand how meaning is constructed. We will critique work through Zoom meetings, and also through written formats (e.g. Discussions). 

As critique participants, there are a couple of ground rules:

1) We will avoid saying that we either like/don't like a work. Instead, we will dig deeper to describe what we are noticing/seeing/experiencing. 

2) We will avoid giving prescriptive suggestions (e.g. You should blah blah blah...). When we offer a suggestion we are remaking the work presented. Let's stick with what's in front of us, and try to understand it.

3) We will work to understand the intentions of the person presenting the work, and how we interpret the work as individuals. If there's a perceived gap between the intentions/interpretation, we will work to describe why we think that is occurring. This makes the critique productive for the person presenting the work (they get to listen in on how a particular audience understands their work), and it's also productive for the participants, as they get to practice their skills in analyzing artworks in an objective manner.

4) We will work to listen to each other, understand different perspectives, but also speak up and offer our opinions. (The critique-based approach only works if everyone participates.)

When you are scheduled to present your work for critique, arrive to the class session with questions that you would like for the group to address. What were you thinking about as you made this work? What is still unresolved for you? What would be helpful to get feedback on?

 Assignment deadlines and late submissions 
All assignment deadlines can be found on Canvas, and the sequence of coursework is listed in Modules, to enable you to effectively plan and balance your academic work and other commitments. Meeting deadlines for this class is critical, because if assignments are turned in late, it disrupts our schedule for review and discussion. Canvas is setup to automatically deduct points for late assignments, so please pay careful attention to assignment deadlines and class activity dates.

With that said, despite the best planning, I understand that sometimes life happens (especially during a pandemic). If you run into a problem and are unable to complete your work on time, be in touch with me as soon as possible and we can discuss accommodations on a case by case basis to make up the work. Just make sure to be in touch with me--and also your classmates, if you are working on a group assignment.

Please note that even if you are not prepared to share your work for critique, you must attend and contribute to the critique session in order to earn participation credit. If you have a situation where you can not attend the Zoom session, you will need to make up the points by sharing written feedback through the Discussion thread.

 Extended absences 

  • If I am ever unable to make a class session, I will notify you as soon as possible through an Announcement and will make an arrangement for another instructor to take over the class, if I need to be absent for more than one week.
  • If a student requires an extended absence before more than 70% of coursework is completed, there might be opportunities to Withdraw from the course, or develop a schedule for making up and submitting coursework later in the quarter. Students in this situation should talk me, and also their adviser, as soon as possible.
  • If a student requires an extended absence after at least 70% of coursework is completed at a passing grade or higher, contact me as soon as possible to discuss options for developing a schedule for making up and submitting coursework.



Over this past year, we have all found ourselves living in unique and often difficult circumstances, likely trying to juggle a variety of commitments and emotions. Especially under such conditions, your participation in our course is appreciated, and I will do everything I can to support you. When filling out the course Questionnaire, please let me know if there's anything that I can do to better accommodate your needs in online and remote learning. There are also university resources available, for broader needs you might have. Without requesting or expecting details about any situation you may face, we can work together to make a plan to make your course learning as productive and enjoyable as possible. 

It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please activate your accommodations via myDRS so we can discuss how they will be implemented in this course. 

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), contact DRS directly to set up an Access Plan. DRS facilitates the interactive process that establishes reasonable accommodations. Contact DRS at

Even if you do not have a documented disability, variability in how people learn is a documented phenomenon. Let me know if you are having difficulty at any point in the quarter with how information in the class is being presented, and we can work to come up with a plan to accommodate your learning style.



Learning in an online environment is relatively new to many of us, and it should be acknowledged that after a year of living through a pandemic, nearly everyone is impacted by stress and fatigue. Despite the challenges we face, I still believe it is possible to have a memorable and successful class, where we can all learn a lot and grow as artists and individuals. To get the most out of this experience, I recommend the following:

  • Approach assignments with an open mind, and don't worry about getting everything perfect -- just focus on DO. Trust that through the act of doing, if you pay attention, and give your best effort, even through work that you might consider a "failure," you will learn and grow.
  • Attend all the Zoom sessions, if possible, and be fully present and engaged. It can be easy to get distracted during online meetings, so I ask that you arrive to our virtual class meetings prepared and ready to collaborate with your classmates. Don't keep multiple windows open on your computer or tablet, and keep your camera on, if possible. If we take a break, stand up, stretch, walk around, and try to refresh by not continuing to look at the screen.
  • Keep a notepad/sketchbook with you at all times. Take notes on what you read or watch, and jot down all of the questions you have. Take notes during critique sessions, too. (For your work, and also others.)
  • Keep in mind that each member of this class has different ideas and perspectives, and our differences enrich our discussions and the general class experience. I expect everyone in the class to both speak and listen with compassion and not make assumptions about others. If there is a misunderstand, let's talk about it. We don't all have to agree on everything, but we have to keep an open mind, and be willing to listen and consider different ideas and opinions.
  • Show up to the optional Zoom sessions to ask questions, to share your work in progress, and to meet some of your classmates in a smaller group setting.
  • Never hesitate to email me, or set up a one-on-one meeting. This class should challenge you, but I don't want you to be frustrated.
  • Think of our classroom as a community, and dedicate yourself to working collectively to build a support structure that overcomes the obstacle of social distance. Utilize the opportunity to post in the Discussions, message your classmates, and set up times to meet and talk to each other on Zoom (or through other platforms). Outside of scheduled class hours, reach out to your classmates to share your thoughts and ideas, talk about work in progress, and build bridges and connections that will be an important source of support post-graduation.

    Learning in an online environment does not need to feel isolated -- but it takes work to build a sense of community and engagement.


  SoAAHD POLICIES (click on link to read)



Don't let grades determine your effort.  Rest assured, if you put in the work, you'll get a good grade. However, if you only work for the grade, you won't get much out of this class.

> Can we agree that the goal of this class is learning?

> Now, if you are not learning for a grade, why are you learning

> What if this class asks you to think like an artist (not like a student)? 


Eliminating a transactional grading system requires a different approach to evaluation.

First, you will be asked to write a self reflection twice this quarter. These reflections are a tool for assessment, and develop metacognitive thinking skills (metacognition is, simply put, thinking about one's thinking).  

For assignments, you will be graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory, pass/fail system. (Satisfactory work means work that would typically be graded as an A or a B.) If work is turned in that is deemed unsatisfactory (i.e. does not fulfill the assignment specifications and is does not demonstrate the effort expected for a 400 level course), students will have one week to revise resubmit, to receive credit.

Please note: although we are adopting a system that differs from a traditional grading system, it does not mean we are eliminating rigor. Rather, we are eliminating superficial work done only for points, and work that is done with the aim to get the "right" answer, rather than work done because it aids your process of learning. We are allowing for more freedom to experiment and take creative risks, while holding each person in the class accountable. For this approach to work, there is a great amount of trust and mutual respect that we all must have 1) for ourselves, and 2) for our class, as a community. If you are not putting in the work for this class, it will affect the entire class. If you do not feel that you are responsible enough to learn without the typical punishment/reward system of grades in place, you should drop this class today. Understand that this class is designed for independently motivated artists who have a genuine desire to learn and are committed to creating high-quality work.

> You can find the UW grading system here.

To receive a 3.9 or 4.0, in addition to succefully completing all assignments, you must demonstrate exceptional achievement in your work and leadership in the class. As a class leader, you will contribute to all discussions--which includes listening closely and responding; demonstrate a strong work ethic and continually seek out ways to expand your knowledge; take an active role in group activities and motivate others through a strong example; include everyone and take responsibility for both successful outcomes and mistakes.








BOMB magazine

Mousse Magazine

AWARE Magazine



Art 21 Magazine

Eye Level (Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery)

Unframed (LACMA)

Contemporary Art Daily

BmoreArt (Baltimore Contemporary Art)

Honolulu Museum of Art blog

MOCA Stream



Louisiana Channel

Art 21



Additional places to see and/or read about art online

Kadist Video Library (sign up for a free account to watch hundreds of videos and films)


Memory of the World

Kanopy (sign in with your UW account for streaming access to over 8,000 films)



UW Academic Advising Office Calls for Work

Office of Arts & Culture (Seattle)

Artist Trust (WA) 

4Culture: Grants + Artist Calls

CAA Opportunity List

Café Call for Art

The Big Artist Opportunities List  (Artist Residencies)

Creative Capital Opportunities

California Arts Council 

Mass Cultural Council Support for Artists 

Call For (international) 

GYST (call for art) 

Chicago Artists Coalition 

Res Artis (residencies) 

Hyperallergic Monthly Opportunities (click "tag" on bottom for updates each month)

Catalog Description: 
Focuses on experimental and conceptual approaches; examines the historical lineage of art interventions as a means of developing contemporary forms. Examines the ways sites are constructed spatially, socially, and historically. Students produce projects designed to interact with existing structures and situations.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
February 11, 2021 - 10:00pm