Land Arts of the American West is a semester long, full-time, studio art program at the University of New Mexico committed to mentoring undergraduate and graduate students into the field of Art & Ecology as professional creative practitioners. The program's pedagogy is unique, employing a combination of the following: student centered research and practice, intensely experiential and embodied bioregional field-based explorations, collective daily living/workshopping/projects, and opportunities to publicly present finished works. LAAW supports learning opportunities for students from all backgrounds and across creative disciplines. Our desire is to foster a diverse, inspiring, collective, critical, and safe experimental space for students, faculty, and guests.
The semester begins with six weeks of travel exploring the ecology of place within the American Southwest. These Field Investigations include Independent Work Sites, Investigative Sites, and Collaborative Engagement Sites. During Individual Work Sites students come in contact with the Southwest’s biodiversity while remotely basecamping in various econiches such as subalpine, desert, juniper-scrub, grasslands, and riparian environments. At these sites, students independently explore and work on individual creative projects. Investigative Sites are spaces where the entire LAAW group is guided by local communities, organizations, guides, artists, and/or scholars to learn about a particular place, current environmental justice issues, and human-impacted environments. Finally, during Collaborative Engagement Sites, LAAW artists partner up with local communities to investigate current bioregional issues and engage creatively and collaboratively with a public output.
After Field Investigations, the LAAW group returns to the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, for independent research, creative production, and final public presentation/dissemination. The group meets weekly for creative workshopping and one-on-one conversations with faculty. At the end of the semester, students present a public exhibition, conduct artist talks, and hand in research papers and portfolios.