For years, artist, designer, and educator Bridget O’Rourke has held academic positions at Parsons Paris in which she has helped the school become the robust interdisciplinary center it is today.
O’Rourke chaired the Foundation Year department, served as academic director, and director of Parsons Europe prior to the establishment of the new Paris headquarters in 2013. The experience enabled her to refine a pedagogy combining art, design, and the humanities to examine the creative process, methodologies of art and design, and transdisciplinary collaboration. It is an approach embodied in her own creative practice.
O’Rourke is co-founder of an association for artistic practice and reflection in rural Burgundy, home also to her own principal studio. “The industrial scale of the spaces allows me to juxtapose my painting and video practice, to manifest them together, in a way that recalls the Parsons studio paradigms I have helped develop over the years,” she says. During her recent teaching sabbatical, O’Rourke developed work with an increasing focus on the climate crisis. “A few hours’ drive from my studio, there are Alpine glaciers melting exponentially quickly and threatening to collapse. I saw it as my responsibility to witness this environmental event, to capture details, filmed in slow motion. There is a danger of reducing this crisis to trends and statistics with which we cannot engage emotionally or spiritually.
O’Rourke also is in the process of developing “non-commodity” forms of expression, such as performance-lectures that invite participation from audience members and collaborators as well as local residents of Burgundy who are directly affected by — and closely attuned to — the changing climate. She is currently planning a series of workshops for a group of artists, humanists, scientists, and social scientists on the topic of fluidity, many of them collaborators of the sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher Bruno Latour. Using the concept of relational aesthetics, O’Rourke hopes to ask, “how can a conversation become generative of awareness that impels action?”