Thursday, October 23, 2008

David Askevold and the Projects Class

The extent of and documentation (if any) of the removals is completely in the domain of the students.
- Project concept, submitted by Lawrence Weiner, for David Askevold's Project Class

David Askevold came to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in the fall of 1968. This is where he would come to develop his idea of the Projects Class, which ran from 1969-1972. Originally hired as a sculpture teacher in the Foundation Program, Askevold’s invention of the his Projects Class quickly changed the focus of Foundation, and the nature of his job. Experimentation as a way of teaching and learning became the rule; the idea was to engage students with problems and questions, rather than to train them in fine arts techniques. The Projects Class helped to put NSCAD on the map in the early days and its innovative approach to teaching made people question whether NSCAD was 'the best art school in North America'.

Askevold recruited a number of New York-based and international conceptual artists to write and submit proposals for projects to be completed by the students. These artists included: Robert Barry, Mel Bochner, Jan Dibbets, Sol Lewitt, N E Thing Company, James Lee Byars, Robert Smithson, Doug Huebler, Dan Graham, Lucy Lippard, Joseph Kosuth, and Lawrence Weiner. Some of the artists would come to see the projects progress and became involved with the students collaborative processes.

The projects were submitted on typed or handwritten cards, which would then be given to the students. This sort of exchange—between artists and students---opened up to the idea that teaching or engaging with a class could become a work of art in itself. Often artists who collaborated in the Projects Class would also show their own works in the College galleries. Askevold claimed merely to be the monitor of the process, a sort of midwife. Summer semesters were times during which many openings were set aside for visiting artists that would come to teach classes. In the early days, sometimes a visiting artist would stay for full fall or winter semesters, or the whole year.

Although David Askevold passed away in January of 2008, he leaves behind a remarkable legacy. His work in the Projects Class and elsewhere inspires us to look and to think outside of ourselves, and to seek and find guidance from those artists around us.

Askevold said, of his Projects Class:
" My idea at the time, as an instructor of art, was to bring students closer to the sensibilities of practicing contemporary artists by engaging them directly with the work. Most of the artists involved visited the school to discuss this project as well as their general concepts to the student body. This project helped to initiate a very extensive visiting program."

October 2008 Kristen Sharpe

Works Referenced

Artnet. (2008). David Askevold. Retrieved September 28th, 2008 from askevold.html

Barber, Bruce, ed. Conceptual Art: The NSCAD Connection 1967-1973. Halifax, NS: Anna Leonowens Gallery, NSCAD University, 2001.

Flinn, Sue Carter. (January 31, 2008) Askevold's mystery tour: The death of pioneering artist David Askevold leaves a sense of loss in the art community. Retrieved September 29th, 2008 from http:// tour.html#123

Gallery One One One. (2008). David Askevold Cultural Geographies and Other Works. Retrieved September 29th, 2008 from

Kitty Scott, and Shaughressy, Jonathan. Art Metropole: The Top 100. Ottawa, ON: National Gallery of Canada, 2006. 54.

Murray, Ian. (March 22, 2008). David Askevold, 1940-2008.(Obituary). Retrieved September 29th, 2008 from

"A New Era." NSCAD Univeristy. Retrieved October 15th, 2008 from .

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