Week 11

MONDAY: Complete Conceptual Portrait Critique

Finish blog posts by next week!

WEDNESDAY: Artist Buttons Lecture and Assignment:


Since the 1950’s artists have been making inexpensive, accessible works in a series/edition intended for wider distribution than singular objects in museums. These have served to critique commercial/market aspects of the art world, and the myth of an expensive “original”. Artist multiples have been made as prints, small manufactured sculptures, pins, artist books, magazines, postcards, t-shirts, zines and other commercially reproducible media. They are sometimes given away for free, traded or sold for low cost in bookstores, independent art galleries, libraries, convenience stores, activists’ gatherings, and more.

Artist multiples are sometimes playful and mischievous – exploring new and surprising manifestations of commercial media – and often convey ideas and meaning against expected commercial, social, and political goals.

Develop some ideas for unique, artist buttons and post your thoughts and drawings/designs on the blog.

Consider how artists use conceptual strategies to make buttons into art including:

  • a button series that features an unexpected collection
  • a button that acknowledges its own button-ness/materiality, is self-conscious and knows it’s a button
  • buttons that work together to create a final work
  • a button that creates social interaction
  • a button that gives instructions/provokes
  • a button that reveals things usually hidden
  • a button or series that completes a sculpture
  • a button that speaks to the body directly, that knows it’s on a body
  • a button that creates a performance act by wearing it

In class we will learn to use the button maker together with the appropriate materials. Create a single design, or a series of buttons.

Consider fonts, design, colours, images to make a professional quality artist multiple. You may make up to 15-20 buttons for your final project, plus a few tests.

*See schedule for work time and critique dates.

Week 10

Still from the video Hubba Bubba, by Wendy and Avery. 2023

Congratulations to JAS winners!


Work time on Conceptual Portrait projects

Show and discuss work in progress


Critique for Conceptual Portrait

All works should be on the blog with a full description, notes and prep work by one week after critique.

Week 9

Discuss ideas for Conceptual Portrait – Roundtable

Discuss readings – Tom Friedman and Micah Lexier

Also look at Germaine Koh, Sophie Calle, Jon Sasaki

-Work time in class

Visit to the Art Gallery of Guelph


Mary Kelly: To Witness the Future

January 19.2023 / May 14.2023

The first exhibition to explore pioneering feminist artist Mary Kelly’s long engagement with activist movements.

More Jason Lujan: Under a Star-Filled SkyJanuary 19.2023 / April 30.2023Connecting aspects of Indigenous cosmology to wider cultural meanings, this exhibition speaks to the idea of seeing through space.More 

Five molded sculptures of faces with cracked appearances piled randomly on top of each other

Insoon Ha: Dirge

January 19.2023 / April 30.2023

Taking root during pandemic lockdowns, this installation acknowledges loss while offering a space for grief and mourning.Creative DissentJanuary 19.2023 / May 14.2023This exhibition speaks to the connections between art and social activism and to the visual aesthetics that emerge from protest.Kara Springer: Death Defying Acts and Everyday AbstractionsJanuary 19.2023 / April 30.2023This work chronicles the artist’s experience of pregnancy amid reports of high maternal mortality rates experienced by Black women in the U.S.

Week 8

Monday: Audio Art Critique

Please have your work posted on the blog – including a title, and a description of the piece.


Complete critiques

Lecture: Conceptual Portrait

Assignment: Conceptual Portrait


A photo series, a collection of things, an audio work, a found-object sculpture, a series of data-oriented drawings, or a video.

Maximum limit for time-based works of 3 minutes.


“In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work… all planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.”

Sol Lewitt, from Peter Osborne, Conceptual Art, Phaidon, Themes & Movements

“The system is the work of art; the visual work of art is the proof of the System. The visual aspect can’t be understood without understanding the system. It isn’t what it looks like but what it is that is of basic importance. “

Sol Lewitt

For this open media project you will create a representation of something, or someone – in a non-literal way. How can you represent the intangible, and invisible aspects of reality?

You will create your conceptual portrait by using a system – like a rule, a formula, a series of tasks, or an experiment to plan and create the work.

 Let the system be the “machine that makes the art.”

Consider creating a work that is:

A series of repeated gestures or actions that are documented or found

Modified found objects to change their purpose or meaning

A work made strictly by adhering to instructions, and documenting what is done

A series of similar-photos or video clips – taken or found – that come together to create deeper meaning than the images individually

Creative documentation of self-observation

A task-based experiment in any media with results unknown in advance, present results

Some artist references:

Christian Marclay
Mel Bochner
On Kawara
The Bechers
Hiroshi Sugimoto
John Baldessari
Kelly Mark
Germaine Koh
Sandy Plotnikoff
Spring Hurlbut
Felix Gonzales Torres
Micah Lexier
Germaine Koh
Sophie Calle
Tom Friedman
Douglas Gordon Roula Partheniou
Hannah Black Dean Baldwin Katie Patterson


Read the two PDFs available about the work of Tom Friedman, and Micah Lexier

Consider how each of these artists use systems, series’, and documents of process in their production. Consider the eccentric strategies artists bring to interpreting “data” and the unique tools and insights artists employ to understanding the world.

Look at the referenced works, and other works available on line.

Be prepared to discuss a work you appreciate by each artist in class.

Come prepared for an in-depth discussion of the readings, and your project ideas next class.

Present a proposal of your ideas in the next class:

Create a proposal for this assignment below. Write about references from the lecture that inform your thinking – use images and prepare to discuss your proposal in our next class meeting:

*See schedule for work time and critique dates.