SHS art course teaches students “a common language”

Sketchbooks from student Jonas Lo Schiavo at the Le dessin qui se déplace event © 2023 Chiara Vargetto

Sketchbooks from student Jonas Lo Schiavo at the Le dessin qui se déplace event © 2023 Chiara Vargetto

The Pratiques artistiques C course, part of the CDH SHS program, gives students across EPFL the opportunity to learn about and practice drawing. The course culminated last December with "Le dessin qui se déplace", an event featuring an artistic performance along with presentations of student works and a lecture.

The course was taught autumn semester 2023 by two HEAD lecturers, Didier Rittener and Caroline Tschumi, and offered students a panorama of contemporary drawing through regular practice accompanied by presentations and references taken mainly from the field of art. The curriculum included a mix of practical drawing education and lectures looking at drawing all the way back in time to cave art.

“Everything we can find inside us is translatable by a drawing”

“Drawing is familiar to everyone, and is a common language since childhood,” says Rittener about the value of the class to EPFL students. “It can be created with very little means, and is found at the crossroads of contemporary issues in the various fields taught at EPFL.”

“Everything we see around us, with the possible exception of nature, has been designed by someone,” adds Tschumi. “Everything we can find inside us is translatable by a drawing.”

The course uses pedagogy to reflect on each person's own conceptions of art, without a spirit of competition or achievement, allowing students to fully inhabit a practice by doing. And the students appreciated the opportunity to explore new horizons outside of their usual EPFL experience.

“I was looking to get out of my comfort zone and take on the exciting challenge of creating something from scratch, including taking part in an art exhibition and drawing a sketchbook,” says Alicia Perez Domouso, a bachelor’s student in environmental science and engineering.

“I chose this course to devote time to practicing what I love while seeing other ways of approaching this field and validating credits at the same time. It was a "win-win" for my training, my personal practice and my future,” agrees Jonas Lo Schiavo, a bachelor’s student in architecture.

“It’s a horizontal relationship between teacher and student, as we bring our knowledge and skills to each other to make progress on this short journey,” says Tschumi. “It's an extremely dynamic and unpredictable experience.”

Le dessin qui se déplace

Gianluigi Maria Masucci © 2023 Chiara Vargetto

The semester culminated in the event Le dessin qui se déplace, which took place at the Rolex Learning Center, occupying several spaces within the building, putting the movement of drawing into practice. Throughout the evening, Italian artist Gianluigi Maria Masucci created performative drawings in situ. David Zerbib, professor of art philsophy at HEAD-Geneva, also gave a lecture on drawing in motion. Students also had the opportunity to present their work at the event. There was even a tattoo artist present.

“It was a great opportunity to perform in a space like this,” says Lo Schiavo “The exhibition marked a final, material objective for the course. This concrete aspect of a public presentation motivated me to do something that I wanted to present and experience in public.”

The CDH-Culture program offers opportunities for certain courses from CDH and other faculties to be extended into an artistic and public experience. It does this by working with teachers to create collaborations between guest artists and students, who can use art to share and exchange on common questions and issues.

Author: Stephanie Parker

Source: College of humanities | CDH

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