Sculpture Departmental Philosophy
Cranbrook Academy of Art’s Sculpture program strives to foster an environment that cultivates an expressive and ever-widening range of constructs and mediums for expression, preparing students to be translators of their culture while exposing and questioning its values. It is structured as a dynamic and responsive system activated by creative thinkers sharing and questioning ideas. Students are asked to explore the conceptual underpinnings of their work, while considering the context and their role as a creator in the current moment of our vast existence.
Investigating through research and direct experience, students become more fully aware of the place they live and work—culturally, socially, historically, and sensorially. They are encouraged to embody and critique these acting influences however intimate or far-reaching.
The program is both immersive and experimental, bringing forth an active approach to art-making or activism. Diversity in students’ backgrounds, experience, and orientation to the world organically incites discussions and collaborations of differing perspectives. Students are encouraged to collaborate with one another, different departments, and beyond the Academy itself. They create site-specific installations, temporary performances, and endurance pieces; test out work that might disrupt physical, cultural or conceptual systems; or explore media, while considering the ever-widening constructs for expression that may more aptly convey the time in which we live.
The Sculpture department’s main focus for education is critique—critical conversations addressing each student’s work, its foundations and influences, while simultaneously challenging them through the lineage of sculpture theory and form. Critiques are conducted between the individual students, with the Sculpture Artist-in-Residence, visiting artists, small groups and/or the whole department. Informal discussions about current events, contemporary culture, or daily experiences are a normal occurrence since all students and the Artist-in-Residence work intently under one roof.
Visiting artists and critics are an important component of students’ work development. They offer differing views and approaches to art and art-making. Various local and international visiting artists give lectures, seminars, and critiques. Lectures are usually open to all departments. Visiting artists invited by the department meet with students individually and/or participate in group critiques.
Students in the Sculpture program attend exhibitions and lectures sponsored by the Academy, as well as at various venues in the Detroit, Ann Arbor, and surrounding areas. The department schedules local trips to Detroit and throughout the United States and abroad to broaden the experience beyond the Academy.
Student-run events such as film nights, Forum Gallery (a student-run exhibition space on campus), and other temporary site-specific events inform and deepen more raw and active conversations. The CAA library and Art Museum are located next to the Sculpture building and are an invaluable resource for research. Reading and writing are structured into the program as part of the Academy’s Critical Studies Program and the professional practice of art as well as to research concerns of sculpture today.
Sculpture students each have their own studios within the Sculpture building with 24-hour access. The department has a fully-equipped wood and metal shop along with CNC, laser cutting, and 3D printing capabilities. The Central Media Lab houses video and photographic equipment and various other technology support equipment (see fabrication and media lab in website menu). Students have access to all of the departments and their tools and technologies. Easy access to Detroit and the surrounding areas provides a major resource for materials, fabrication, or any outsourcing needs.