School of Visual Culture

In 2019, the Merriam Webster Dictionary declared ‘They’ to be the ‘word of the year’. Evidently not new, it has been widely and controversially adopted as a gender-neutral singular pronoun in recent years. It has been a lesson that one generation, the young, have asked us all to learn.

The experience of learning from the young is one of the most striking aspects of art and design school education. The kind of knowledge which is taught here is not static or conclusive. Often generated in response to fast changing events in the world, it has to be adaptable. And like the word ‘they’, it often involves reimagining what we think we know. This has always been true but never more so than since the onset of the pandemic.

Students on the different undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the School of Visual Culture at NCAD are no exception. In 2019-20 graduating BA Visual Culture students have explored – among many other themes – how feminist art might tackle the effects of social media; how artists might yet shape the spaces of Dublin in the age of the property developer; and how the way that we have dressed children has changed. With equal curiosity, postgraduates on our Art in the Contemporary World and Design History and Material Culture programmes have steered us towards the edges of our cities to look carefully at nature or to scrutinize the massive infrastructural developments to which we seem to be blind. Others have excavated ideas from the history of radical theatre and exhibition-making to help us imagine different and perhaps better futures.

In an age of uncertainty, they have much to teach us.

Professor David Crowley
Head of the School of Visual Culture