Hostos Design Lab @ MASS MoCA

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The Hostos Design Lab is a two-week summer design intensive in North Adams, MA for twelve outstanding students from the digital programs at Hostos Community College in Bronx, NY. The student collaborative, with the guidance of two Hostos professors and two Hostos alums, will function as a temporary 16-person design firm from August 1-12, 2011.

The program will be in conjunction with the Bureau for Open Culture’s Mass MoCA exhibition, I am Searching for Field Character and housed within their project space, Work Site.

Set within a reclaimed industrial building on the grounds of MASS MoCA, Bureau for Open Culture presents I Am Searching for Field Character, a series of public conversations, performances, installations, and workshops with a slew of artists, writers, designers and thinkers visiting North Adams, Massachusetts, over the course of the summer. The exhibition examines the cultural laborer, today with an emphasis on their precarious economic existence. Organized in association with the MASS MoCA exhibition The Workers, I Am Searching for Field Characterexplores the economic and social character of the cultural laborer—from artists and writers to beekeepers and distillers—who collectively contribute to the lifestyle of a region. It examines this workforce within the context of a post-industrial city that has transformed economically from a site of major manufacturing industry to a locus for culture and experience. And that examination conflates and purposely obscures notions of labor and touristic service industries, all transpiring inside architecture built originally for the production of goods and materials. Part exhibition, part performance, part studio, part unexpected—I Am Searching for Field Character locates and shapes a portrait of the cultural worker today with an emphasis on their precarious economic existence.

Directly inspired by, I am Searching for Field Character, the Design Lab will produce an interactive and printed journal investigating and celebrating the cultural laborers of North Adams, MA. Students will conduct video interviews with local artists, chefs, farmers, musicians, writers, etc to dissect the value and meaning of a “cultural laborer” and their importance within a community. As future cultural laborers, the students will gain an understanding of how they will contribute to their social ecosystem and cultural economy in New York City.

The chosen student collective will include graphic designers, illustrators, animators, photographers, musicians, video artists and a writer. Monday through Fridays of the lab will be spent in creative collaboration at Work Site and will be supplemented with journaling and hikes in local state parks. The first week will involve intensive fieldwork and research—capturing photography, audio and video—as well as brainstorming of the final design products. Half-way through the project, students will participate in a workshop and critique by the designer manager from New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, August Heffner. The workshop will focus on how a project evolves from thought cycle, to innovation, to development, to actualization.

The students will acquire professional experience through multiple brainstorming and feedback meetings with Mass MoCA’s design director, Matt Cassity. They will gain cultural exposure working within a world-reknowned art institution and the invaluable skills of creative collaboration.

Students participating in the Design Lab will also acquire valuable life skills through communal living. The lab’s housing is located only a short 0.5 mile walk from the museum in the heart of North Adams. Chores and community cooking will be led by two student RA’s. The communal living enivironment will help further define how one contributes to the fabric of their community.


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Eugenio María de Hostos Community College
500 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York 10451