Beyond the Studio

The whole world is a studio

Use it! That means the woods, fields, and streets, not just your classroom can be a place for making art.

Draw outside the studio, in cafes, on the street, in parks, in nature and in the city

Build outside the studio, on the school grounds, in a woodland nearby, in a field ( with permission)

Make a site specific piece, it doesn't have to be huge.

What is site specific?

The artwork is done in response to a specific site and explores themes and relationships with its surroundings. Sometimes the artwork can be moved and still be relevant in another place but usually it is born out of relationship to that place. The viewer is very much involved in the work as they are present on the site too and engaging with the same surroundings as the artist.


Not only in our time. Site specificity is not a modern invention, although we tend to think of it as a contemporary art movement, It's the term site specificity that is modern, not the idea. Much of the art of the past was site specific, created specifically for a certain building, often commissioned by the Church, like the fresco by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, the sculptures on a Medieval Cathedral facade or the recently destroyed Buddhas of Bamiyan, carved into a wall of rock in Afganistan. Religious art has often been in response to a particular site, but lay artists have also worked site specifically in the past. And broadly speaking, all architecture and garden design ( an early form of land art) is of course site specific. So nothing new here!

Student Assignment

Make a site specific piece. First choose a location for your work, interior or exterior space. It doesn't have to be huge, it could be a small corner, a hall way, a tree, a niche, a path. The important thing is the relationship of what you make to the space, and how it alters or contributes to our perception of that space or place. Now choose your materials: will you use found materials, natural or manmade materials, do you need to buy certain things, collect, beg or borrow? How do you want the viewer to experience this piece? Is it something that you have to look for or something that shouts out loud? Is there a participative element, do you need to touch it or enter it or is it simply a presence?


Make sure you are Documenting Process with good quality photographs and or video. It doesn't matter if it stays or is an impermanent intervention as long as you have a record.

Download the teaching idea site specific work

I recently spent some time at I-Park a wonderful Artist Residency in Connecticut, Usa on a huge woodland acreage. Artists were encouraged to use the natural surroundings and the open space available to create work in response to (site specific) the environment. Here my friend Don Edler is constructing a wall in the middle of the woods. When walking in this quiet woods you will come across his fabricated wall, its materials and construction in direct contrast to the natural setting and it's intentionally unfinished quality evoking a sense of displacement and curiosity.

See other examples of environmental sculpture at I-park

Journal Research

Look up at least two of these artists who work with site specificity

Christo and Jean Claude (image on left)

Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida, 1980-83

From the National Gallery of Art the following description

 Using 6.5 million square feet of floating pink fabric, Christo and Jeanne-Claude encircled eleven islands in Miami's Biscayne Bay, extending the perimeter of each island by 200 feet. An elaborate undertaking that involved legions of contractors, engineers, attorneys, and seamstresses, Surrounded Islands also required extensive consultation with marine biologists and ornithologists. Ultimately, the project benefited its surroundings: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's crew removed forty tons of garbage from the uninhabited islands.

Evoking hibiscus flowers and flamingos, the vibrant woven polypropylene fabric was sewn to correspond to the contours of each island. As the unfurling began on 4 May 1983, the islands themselves seemed to bloom. The artists and their crew of 430 surrounded the last island three days later. Remaining on view for two weeks, the work was visible to the public from the causeways, the land, the water, and the air.

Richard Serra

Robert Smithson

Andy Goldsworthy

Mel Bochner

Mark Dion

Rebecca Horn

Joseph Beuys

Dan Flavin

Sol LeWitt

James Turrell

Claes Oldenburg + Coosje Van Bruggen

Joseph Beuys

Rachel Whiteread

Jenny Holzer

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