At Georgia State’s College of the Arts, nurturing a culture of creative collaboration among our schools, faculty and students is a point of distinction that challenges our students’ artistic expression. This spring semester, students from all three arts disciplines – music, visual arts and film – converged into an interdisciplinary course by the name of “Integrated Studies Lab,” an experimental art class that focused on creating performance-based work. The faculty team included Professor Stuart Gerber from the School of Music and Professor Craig Dongoski and Sr. Lecturer Neill Prewitt, both from the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design.
The class culminated with student performances in late April at Pasaquan, the
internationally-recognized visionary art environment in Buena Vista, GA, part of Columbus State University (CSU). The students created in situ performances inspired by Pasaquan’s creative structures and the life of its creator and visionary, self-taught artist Eddie Owens Martin (a.k.a. St. EOM). The performances took place at various locations on the Pasaquan’s vibrant and colorful complex and incorporated interdisciplinary methods of film, graphic scores, sound design, installation and ritual. The students presented two ensemble performances, one of which the students were processing around St. EOM’s sand pit and invoking his spirit as they responded to the shapes, colors, and patterns that he painted on the surrounding walls as a graphic score that they interpreted sonically.
The GSU course was taught in tandem with Columbus State University’s “Expanded Media class with instructor Travis Dodd’s (GSU M.F.A. ‘ 22). The students at CSU also presented a performance at Pasaquan.
Exceeding the course’s expectations, the faculty shared their thoughts about the collaboration:
Professor Dongoski stated, “It was a true interdisciplinary/intermedia experience. I hope we can share this as a model to be adopted throughout our college. The most impressive aspect was a healthy collaboration between faculty that genuinely translated into immersive experiences and allowed the students to drive the proverbial ‘bus’ toward outcomes that they had ownership in, pushing new models in artmaking. Plus, our relationship with students and faculty at Columbus State University continues to strengthen our regional prowess.”
Professor Gerber shared, “This was a wonderful opportunity for students from across the college to work together on a team, performance-based art project. It was a semester-long collaborative process in which our music students were working with art and film students to create truly unique performances that integrated visual art, film and music.
“Marion County’s Pasaquan is a testament to a creative practice that exceeds disciplinary boundaries and served as a guiding star for a semester of interdisciplinary exploration that saw art and design students re-conceptualizing visual art as a musical score,” said Prewitt. “It was great to see students from Columbus State University and Georgia State University working in parallel from the same silent film to create unique scores, and COTA faculty collaborating in teaching beyond the edges of their disciplines.”
The Pasaquan event with GSU was made possible through CSU Professor Mike McFalls, Pasaquan caretaker Charles Fowler and Friends of Pasaquan Board Chair Annie Says, supported by the Georgia Council for the Arts.