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"I dream of a new age of curiosity. We have the technical means for it; the desire is there; the things to be known are infinite; the people who can employ themselves at this task exist. Why do we suffer? From too little: from channels that are too narrow, skimpy, quasi-monopolistic, insufficient. There is no point in adopting a quasi-protectionist attitude, to prevent "bad" information from invading and suffocating the "good". Rather, we must simply multiply the paths and the possibilities of comings and goings."
About the Mildred's Lane Program
Mildred's Lane is an artist-driven project for the rethinking of the contemporary art complex, which is tucked away in the woods of Pennsylvania, on the upper Delaware River. It is a large-scale collaboration between the artists J. Morgan Puett and Mark Dion who have lived and worked on this rustic 96-acre site since 1998. From the beginning there has been a desire to critically re-imagine the space between environmental practice, artistic domesticating, and socially engaged research. By hosting and supporting international cultural producers, organizing informal residencies, developing site sensitive projects, seminars, dinners, research think tanks and more — they have made Mildred's Lane a significant but invisible center for new forms of cultural practice.
Now, out of the dialogues and the innovative cultural projects produced at this site, a new form of institution and educational program is emerging. We are embarking on this adventure in the spirit of critical curiosity to foster an experimental location to bring diverse researchers, makers, and thinkers together to take on broad ranging interdisciplinary matters of concern. Dion, Puett and their associates will teach from within this mode of doing. This program initiates what we feel needs to happen both in terms of art making and art teaching — the development of socially engaged research into broad ranging conceptual issues of 21st century life, comportment, and environmental practice. This experiment is currently most visible in several large-scale, site-sensitive art projects in the form of architectural experiments, 19th century out-buildings, landscaping interventions, as well a large archive. These projects and their histories will become the core of the new complex — The Mildred's Lane Historical Society and Museum — so titled to honor Mildred Steffens Miller, a remarkable woman farmer who lived on this land. Parallel to this museum is the educational and research program.
This creative environment will allow for something not possible in a traditional academic institution or arts organization — a working-living-researching site for large-scale project-based practices. Mildred's Lane welcomes this "new age of curiosity" — activating connections that situate themselves at the nexus of science, methods of living and critical artistic practices, thus engaging in, and with the world.
A Curriculum for New and Emergent Practices
What is different about Mildred's Lane is that it functions entirely to reassemble the connections between working, living, and researching — centered around specific projects within a pedagogical strategy. This unusual program affords students the ability to participate in the production of large-scale research driven art projects within a truly transdisciplinary environment — a rare opportunity that is unavailable in any institution.
As the system at Mildred's Lane has developed, working with students has become a critical component. It is out of this work and realization — that project based art making requires a fundamental rethinking of the parameters of education — that a curriculum has been developed at Mildred's Lane. At the core of this new curriculum are two principles: (1) that for students, project based art making is best pursued in the context of actual site and (2) education should be principally involved in the development of modes of life — what we are calling workstyles.
This is an unusual site and a unique program which does not strive to duplicate other studio program models. Students do not get studio spaces — the site itself is the studio. The program is made up of a series of one-of-a-kind research, development and project building sessions during which students live and collaboratively work with internationally renowned artists who will direct the sessions to produce an ambitious new work. Thus each session will result in a single, concrete site-sensitive installation and/or body of research. During the session students will have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of a project's development — and in addition, each session will produce documentation in the form of a publication, website, exhibition and/or other project forms which the students will collaboratively design, author, edit, curate and publish in collaboration with Mildred's Lane.
The core of the practice and educational philosophy at Mildred's Lane is an attempt to collectively create new modes of being in the world — this idea incorporates questions of our relation to the environment, systems of labor, forms of dwelling, all of which are an ethics of comportment — and are embodied in workstyles.As a student at Mildred's Lane these issues will be negotiated daily through the rethinking of one's collective involvements with food, shopping, making, styling, gaming, sleeping, reading, and thinking. This is a program and a place where a work-live-research environment is developed to foster a rigorous engagement with every aspect of life. In parallel to and co-evolving with every research session will be the intensive reconsideration of workstyles — there will be visits to alternative farms, discussions around food and cooking; cleaning, maintenance and the total space of the domestic will be part of the course of study — we will collectively work on the full space of our total system of engagements via doing, making, and researching.
Institutional Involvement Notes
There are numerous ways in which to become involved in the early generation of the Mildred’s Lane experimental project:
The artist, the student AND the institution have important roles as we attempt to co-evolve with an emergent strategy. From our own experience as artists and teachers, and also close contact with friends and colleagues doing the same, we hear and understand the frustrations and limitations of conventional visual art programs; however, there is anew optimism amongst our colleagues to explore alternatives to educational conventions.We have done this throughout our own practices for years, and now we have formalized our methods without becoming a burden or a threat to traditional school systems. We invite you to participate in this experiment to rethink visual and social arts and trans-disciplinary education in the context of a very unusual contemporary art complexity.
•Mildred’s Lane directors and advisory board members invite Artists to propose projects for this 95-acre site in NE Pennsylvania.
These artists receive an honorarium for their involvement at Mildred’s Lane. They propose a project, event, or other, and we collectively construct a course of study around and within each project. These generally range from 1 to 3 week intensives; or/and can have evolving phases for more than one season.
•Visiting Lecture Events during each Project session are co-curated by the Project Artist and Mildred’s Lane. The Artists coming as invited guests are involved through presentations and discussion around the project in session at that time. These invited Artists/Lecturers also receive an honorarium for their participation.
•Institutions, departments, or faculty may develop a course of study around a project, or possibly invent a new project with and for Mildred’s Lane, and become a sending institution.
•An institution may take on adjunct contracts (negotiable based on student enrollment), with one or more of the artists working on projects at Mildred’s Lane; hand selecting students for the program, (previous syllabus info available upon request).
•A sending institution, department or faculty may hand pick students whom they feel would benefit from this unusual environment of trans-disciplinary practitioners and, with their recommendation, encourage them to apply.
Students sign up for any of the project courses for credit through the sending institutions. Room and board fees may apply and vary depending on each sending institution’s arrangement with Mildred’s Lane.
•A Faculty could come as an invited Project Artist of Mildred’s Lane, paid by their respective institution and bring there own class of select students, or we can put together the students to work on their project via other sending institutions.
•A sending institution may take on adjunct contracts (negotiable based on student enrollment), with one or more of the Visiting Artists working on projects at Mildred’s Lane.
•Independent Students, Post Graduate and Independent Artists may also apply individually for non-credit. Tuition is $1,500. plus $1,000. room and board fee.
•Mildred’s Lane is also a special environment for institutional retreats, for think tanks, symposia, and more and may be arranged with the co-directors J. Morgan Puett and Mark Dion.
•OR, simply come as a guest to one or more of our public events, lectures and dinners. An invitation must be requested, and a confirmed RSVP is based on available space for each event.
For *Independent Students, Post Graduate and Independent Artists
From: Art Fag City