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The Work of Art FYE-FRINQ

The Work of Art FYE-FRINQ will make exploring art a core experience for First Year Experience (FYE) students living and learning at Portland State University. The Work of Art community ties practical and philosophical approaches to how art influences how we live, how we can merge students’ living community with unique academic and field experiences. The program is designed to enhance students’ academic and social experience, encourage community participation, promote the use of art to express meaning and encourage community support and public-private partnerships.

To participate in this community, students will enroll in the FYE program and a special section of the Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ), Work of Art taught by Sarah Newlands. A partnership with the Portland Art Museum will hep students engage in various activities and programs outside of class to increase the use of art as a form of expression on campus and in the community. Students will be housed on the same floor in the Broadway building, participate in various community activities, and develop leadership skills through a variety of experiential learning programs.

The specific goals of this learning community include:
•     A yearlong examination of how art is exhibited in our society and world
•    Identifying how art can be used in everyday living
•    Understanding how art impacts our society and what it says about our society
•    Participation in the Open Engagement event in spring
•    Strong commitment to applying what is learned in the classroom in the local community
•    Bridging of in class learning to residence hall living through additional themed programming
•    Supportive learning environment enhanced through peer academic support and Learning Community Assistants


About the Freshman Inquiry Work of Art Course

"The Work of Art" explores the function that art plays in our lives on three levels:

  • It examines works of art from a dance of disciplines -- philosophy, architecture, visual arts, performance, advertising, science, literature, history, popular culture, etc. -- and shows how to gain meaning from them.
  • It looks at the work that goes into the production of these artifacts: the technical expertise and creativity required of artists in the disciplines.
  • It looks at the work art does in the world -- how it shapes, reflects, disguises, complicates, challenges, or brings reality to our assumptions about the world. How is it, for example, that the artistic products of various disciplines impact our understanding of gender, class, national, and racial identities? What are the artistic levers with which we can move our world forward? What can looking through the lens of "art" at the products from a broad range of disciplines reveal about ourselves, our culture[s] and our society? How does the art we do and the art we experience shape our identity? How does it disguise or reveal our essence, heal our hearts, and enable our joy? How does art influence cultural change? How can we use the arts to build community?

About the Freshman Inquiry Professor

Sarah Wolf Newlands teaches Freshman Inquiry "The Work of Art" and Sophomore Inquiry "Popular Culture", as well as courses in drawing, painting, and contemporary art history.  Sarah's students often work collaboratively on interdisciplinary projects in museums and other cultural institutions. She emphasizes process, while promoting students' understanding of their work within larger theoretical and cultural frameworks.  Sarah received an MFA from Portland State University and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and has been actively involved in museum education since she began giving tours at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the mid-1990s. Her own art brings together the language of formal abstraction with commonplace everyday things, using repetition and process as methods of transformation.

If you have additional questions feel free to contact Courtney Sandler ( or Sarah Wolf Newlands ( You may also contact residence life at 503.725.2450.