Module Outline: 

This module offers students an opportunity to learn about mainly contemporary art from Latin America as well as how and why collections such as ESCALA acquire artworks. Over an intensive 10 weeks we will focus on artworks related to the theme of Indigenous America, which is prevalent among ESCALA's holdings reflecting an historical interdisciplinary interest in Latin America's pre-Columbian and colonial past as well as the contemporary realities of the descendants of the region's original inhabitants. These contemporary realities are studied by a range of academics and postgraduate students at the University of Essex, especially in the areas of Human Rights, Transitional Justice, Sociology, Government and Literature, Film and Theatre Studies.

Students will become familiar with ESCALA's holdings related to the theme of Indigenous America by engaging directly with artworks in ESCALA in our purpose-designed Teaching and Research Space in the Constable Building at the Colchester Campus. This space gives students a unique opportunity to a) learn through close observation of physical objects and b) learn from one another through our object-based learning approach, which encourages all those present to participate fully and to bring their own knowledge and experience to discussions. After considering the artworks with little or no background information we will then discuss the wider context in which they were made and debate some of the issues they raise based on weekly required readings.

Students will learn how to write and then 'pitch' an acquisitions proposal, based on a model used by the Art Fund, first individually to their peers and then as a group to an expert panel composed of museum and art-world professionals. Students will be guided carefully through this process and will be required to work within a clear set of guidelines and procedures which will, in addition, give them insight into the standards of best practice followed by collections such as ESCALA that are accredited by Arts Council England. Should the expert panel reach consensus, ESCALA may purchase the 'winning' artwork.


This course aims:

* To provide students with opportunities to study artworks from ESCALA at first-hand, directly accessing the Collection and related resources;

* To encourage students to research a new acquisition for a university art collection;

* To equip students to develop real-world transferable skills in making a written and oral case to an art acquisitions funding board;

* To equip students to turn a written report into an oral and visual presentation and to develop their presentation style and skills;

* To equip students to work collaboratively rather than competitively;

* To equip students to work under time pressure;

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the module students should have:

Developed the skills to research a new acquisition in relation to ESCALA's current acquisition policy and focus.

Developed the skills to make a written acquisition proposal to an art acquisitions funding board, using the template provided by the Art Fund and adapted for the module.

Developed the skills to turn a written proposal into an oral and visual presentation.

Developed their individual presentation style and skills based on feedback from the tutor and peers and on self-evaluation.

Developed an ability to work individually, in pairs and then in groups in a collaborative rather than competitive way, gaining an insight into their own and other people's strengths and how to harness these to reach a common goal.

Improved their ability to work flexibly and under the pressure of time in learning new material and transforming it into different formats within a few weeks.

Gained a greater awareness of ESCALA and of contemporary art traditions beyond Europe and the U.S.