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What We Got Away With: Rochdale College and Canadian Art in the Sixties


What We Got Away With: Rochdale College and Canadian Art in the Sixties

Simpson, Robin Barry (2011) What We Got Away With: Rochdale College and Canadian Art in the Sixties. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis examines the place and influence of Rochdale College within the Canadian, and more specifically Toronto, art milieu of the late sixties. Occupying an eighteen story concrete building just north of University of Toronto, Rochdale College was an unprecedented alternative living and learning environment. Following its opening in 1968 Rochdale and its community quickly came to be a major beacon for the counterculture attracting artists from across the country. Entirely student-run, Rochdale was a world-unto-itself with its own governing committees for administration, finance, and education. Divided into four chapters, “What We Got Away With” situates Rochdale College under an art historical lens. These chapters survey how artists experienced and interacted with Rochdale College and turn a critical eye toward the College’s printed ephemera as a means to better understand the cultural and socio-economic conditions surrounding the experiment. Chapter one inquires as to why certain artists chose to attend Rochdale instead of another Canadian art college. At the time many existing art colleges, as well as government committees on education, were also incorporating protocols of radical pedagogy into their curricula. This chapter explores how the socio-economic conditions of the late-sixties bore influence on arts education in Canada. Chapter two profiles a number of artists’ relations and interactions with the College, identifying artworks that can be traced back to the College either via aesthetic or historical avenues. Chapter three investigates how Rochdale’s print culture intersected with its actual built environment taking for its example the College’s first restaurant. The restaurant’s futuristic design was initially elaborated over numerous newsletters. Its final form acted as a clever retort to the College’s prescribed concrete architecture, drawing attention to a latent radicalism in the surrounding built environment. Chapter four is a study of the College’s infamous phony degrees. By closely examining their design, distribution, and resulting correspondence this chapter reassess the satire behind these novel documents and the role of the publics it assembled.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Simpson, Robin Barry
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:9 September 2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sloan, Dr. Johanne
ID Code:35752
Deposited On:17 Nov 2011 20:52
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:35
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