Beginning in 1968, UCI was host to an experiment in intercultural exchange and artistic and social scientific learning through practice. It brought indigenous people from Guatemala, Mexico, and Samoa to an undeveloped plot on campus known as the Social Sciences Farm, a space for these visitors to demonstrate their crafts, as well as a laboratory for new methods in education and research. As faculty and students developed new theories for understanding human difference, the Farm also served as a gathering site for members of the sixties countercultural movement. Learning by Doing at the Farm, an exhibition of photographs and documents from UCI Special Collections, demonstrates the intimate proximity of “traditional” craft and countercultural communalism to the construction of the institutional structures of the new California university. The exhibit illuminates a forgotten history of UCI and Orange County: one of utopian experimentation, of ethnic and racial diversity, and of experimental scientific and artistic practice.
Learning by Doing at the Farm was on display in the Outreach Gallery at the UCI Contemporary Arts Center from June 14th to July 26th, 2012. This history is now the subject of a forthcoming book edited by Robert Kett and Anna Kryczka entitled Learning by Doing at the Farm: Craft, Science, and Counterculture in Modern California and will be published by Soberscove Press with support from the Graham Foundation (Winter 2014). You can check in here for news about the book and future projects.
Made possible by a grant from the University of California Institute for
Research in the Arts. Part of UCI’s 50-to-50 Anniversary event.