Bard Graduate Center Logo
  Event Banner Image

Dear Accepted Students,

I hope you enjoyed sitting in on classes last week. As an MA in my second semester here at the BGC, I’d like to tell you a bit about two of the classes I am taking this semester: Doll Parts, taught by Freyja Hartzell, and In Focus: Conserving Active Matter, taught by BGC fellow Soon Kai Poh. For those who sat in on these classes last week, and those who weren’t able to, I wanted to share a bit about why I chose to take them and my experiences thus far.

Although I am specifically interested in the material culture of dining, I also wanted to explore less-familiar areas of the decorative arts and to learn more about how exhibitions are built while at the BGC. These courses are helping me fulfill that goal. Additionally, both classes propose that inanimate things can be brought to life through human contact and examine how we interact with them.

Doll Parts expands the definition of dolls to include surrogates, robots, mannequins, and puppets. We have looked at dolls from the past and present through the lenses of intersectionality, psychology, technology, religion, and politics. This is a topic that can be both playful and serious and I’m enjoying the rich conversations that dichotomy creates. I’m also enjoying the creative assignments for this course. For our midterm, we were each asked to write a doll design proposal, and for our final, we are collaborating to create a website featuring an interactive dollhouse.

In Focus: Conserving Active Matter is connected to an exhibition that will be opening at BGC in Spring 2022. In Focus courses allow students to participate in the creation of upcoming exhibitions through class discussions, research, and writing. This particular exhibition will feature objects illustrating how things may be considered active, or even alive, challenging notions of conservation within the museum and in our everyday lives. Each student has the opportunity to contribute a catalogue essay and wall label for four objects of their choice: I am researching a piece by Mark Dion, a collection of early 20th century plastics, a Ganesh statue, and a sustainable textile design by NEFFA. We are currently in conversation with the exhibition designers and will be interviewing professional conservators. It’s exciting to be part of this groundbreaking work and to learn more about how exhibitions are put together.

I hope this provides you with a helpful snapshot of academic life at the Bard Graduate Center. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

All the Best,
Mackensie Griffin, First-Year MA