Where is utopia, and what was that?

Where Is Utopia? course spring 2020
People passing through Rice’s academic quad the evening of Jan. 23 may have wondered why a class of over 30 students was surrounding Willy’s statue, dressed in wild costumes and chanting “nonsense” into the night.

It was all part of Where Is Utopia?, a new Big Questions course from the School of Humanities, led by associate professor of art history Fabiola López-Durán and Josh Bernstein, a painting and drawing lecturer in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts.

Where Is Utopia? course spring 2020
Inspired by the post-World War I art movements of the 1920s, the students created intentionally absurd wearable sculptures in the Sewall Hall sculpture studio using wire mesh, plaster, foam and old clothing Bernstein brought in for the project.

Wearing the outfits allowed the students to embody a Dadaist perspective, useful for a group recitation of an abstract sound poem by German artist Kurt Schwitters, which Bernstein projected onto the base of Willy’s statue. (Photos by Brandon Martin)

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.