When I was in graduate school for Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College, the close of each semester required a reflection on the program’s five degree criteria. We were to use the criteria as lenses through which to see and discuss our semester activity.
When considered with adequate understanding, the criteria helped foster creative work that was more thoughtful, engaging, and ethically aware. Of course, that didn’t make the process easy. Digging deep into your creative work can be a difficult task no matter what; anyone who’s tried to take seriously the task of writing an artist statement can attest.
But when I’m in “student mode,” I find I’m especially prone to looking so closely at new concepts that I go cross-eyed. This may be why near the end of my time with the Interdisciplinary Arts program I attempted to rework the criteria into the simplest language possible.
I’ve had these reworked criteria sitting around for some time, but I recently used them for a new round of reflection on my creative work. As before, it was a challenging but fruitful process. With this in mind, I thought I’d share what I made – along with a new sixth criterion for consideration.
Articulate what you do creatively, where it comes from conceptually and historically, and with whom it engages.
Engagement with Praxis
Articulate your beliefs, where they come from conceptually and historically, how you embody them in your work, and with whom they engage.
Rigorous Exploration within the Context of One’s Art Practice
Investigate and experiment with your creative processes, your beliefs, and the ways you embody your beliefs.
Ethical Engagement and Thoughtful Action
Consider and reflect on the effects of doing your creative work, embodying what you believe, and engaging the audiences of your work.
Understanding the Concept of Interdisciplinary Art
Articulate what interdisciplinary practice is, identify where your work lies on the disciplinary spectrum (disciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, etc.), and understand the fields of study with which your work engages.
There’s a lot packed into those brief explanations, but I find their directness and succinctness make them especially palatable for ongoing reflection.
An additional criterion, which I developed while rewriting the others, follows. For those who already have enough of an “Understanding [of] the Concept of Interdisciplinary Art,” I see this one as a fitting replacement that gets at the heart of what interdisciplinary art can accomplish.
Promoting Alternative Ways of Knowing through Progressive Methodology
Understand and articulate the ways your work engages with fields of study outside of your own, and investigate the ways in which your process and work promote alternative or marginalized ways of knowing.
I hope these reworked criteria can be of use to others. I find they serve admirably as measuring sticks for any creative work with an eye toward social responsibility and the advancement of human understanding. Any creative person could benefit by sitting with these criteria from time to time.