Environmental Art and Sustainable Design

According to the architect Louis Sullivan, “you cannot express unless you have a system of expression; and you cannot have a system of expression unless you have a prior system of thinking and of feeling; and you cannot have a system of thinking and feeling unless you have a basic system of living.”

ART/ENVR 200A is a four-credit course offered each spring semester to students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. Instructed by Artist-in-Residence Richard Bresnahan, the course consists of formal discussions, presentations, lectures, film screenings, and site visits related to the creation of a personal lived system. 

It focuses on a range of issues and analysis of critical theory relating to art, architecture, and their relationship to a sustainable environment. Through a hands-on approach, students will apply these skills to make ceramic work at The Saint John’s Pottery. An additional focus on artistic practices historically found in Asia enriches and informs the creative and written work.

Students critically analyze readings, discuss examples of art and architecture and meet with artists in order to expand their understanding between art, architecture, and the environment. Students are tasked with the assessment and measurement of their own physical belongings and asked to match this reality with the creation of a model living space. 

Course meetings for ART/ENVR 200A occur around the irori tea table at The Saint John’s Pottery, in room AV-2 of Alcuin Library, and in the form of short excursions to several culturally significant locations in central Minnesota–often at the site of a creatively-designed, handmade built environment.