For more than 15 years, QUT’s Visual Arts discipline has employed a teaching model known as the ‘open studio’ in their undergraduate BFA program. Distinct from the other models of studio degrees in Australia, the open studio approach emphasizes individual practice by focusing on experimentation, collaboration and cross-disciplinary activities. However, while this activity proves to be highly relevant to exploring and participating in the ‘post medium’ nature of much contemporary art, the open studio also presents a complex of affecting challenges to the artist-teacher. The open studio, it can be argued, produces a different type of student than traditional, discipline-specific art programs – but it also produces a different kind of artist-teacher.
In this paper, the authors will provide a reflection on their own experiences as artists and studio lecturers involved with the two ‘bookends’ of the QUT studio program – first year and third year. Using these separate contexts as case studies, the authors will discuss the transformative qualities of the open studio as it is adapted to the particularities of each cohort and the curricular needs of each year level. In particular, the authors will explore the way the teaching experience has influenced and positively challenged their individual (and paradoxically) discipline-focused, studio practices. It is generally accepted that the teaching of art needs to be continually reconceptualised in response to the changing conditions of contemporary art, culture and technology. This paper will articulate how the authors have worked at that reconceptualisation within both their teaching and studio practices and so practically demonstrate the complex dialogic processes inherent to the teaching of the visual arts studio.