Art School / Field School: Democratizing Arts Education through Locational and Community Practices

This session considers participatory and field-based art practice and education as experienced by communities, students, and educators at the Field School, a collaborative project between Richard Saxton, at M12 STUDIO and The University of Colorado, Boulder, and Sanjit Sethi with the Corcoran School of Arts and Design. The Field School encourages participatory education for art students by offering them the opportunity to work in small communities and rural landscapes around the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain West. In the six years that the collective­-oriented program has been in existence, students have travelled to towns in rural Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, and Navajo Nation in Arizona, investigating sites such as oil fields, national parks, power plants, ghost towns, and farming operations. As they explore the themes of food, land use, local knowledge, and physical and cultural morphology, students are exposed to new ways of working and living in the world. The panel will discuss the role that innovative programs like The Field School have to play in shaping forms of democratic space in the future. In addition to the case study of The Field School, projects such as the Corcoran Visiting Professor of Community Engagement initiative (Mel Chin, 2016­-17) will be discussed.


Richard Saxton is an artist and director of M12 STUDIO, based in rural Colorado. With work situated within an interdisciplinary cultural framework, M12 creates and supports new modes of art making in often rural and remote areas. Working internationally since 2007, M12 has completed over 30 projects focusing on the value of often under­represented rural communities and their surrounding landscapes.


Sanjit Sethi’s practice deals with issues of nomadism, community development, identity, the residue of labor, and memory. Sethi has been Executive Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute SFAI and Director of the Center for Art and Public Life and Chair of Community Arts at the California College of the Arts. Sethi is Director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University.




Sethi and Saxton

Richard Saxton

Artist; Director of M12 Studio

Boulder, Colorado


Sanjit Sethi

Artist; Director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University

Washington DC, USA