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Human-Animal Studies: Courses in Art

Art Courses Overview

This is a list of colleges and universities around the world who provide courses for art in relation to the human-animal relationship. This includes the name of the college, the name of the course, who is teaching the course, and brief description of the art course that the instructor will be covering.


Human-Animal Art Courses in the United States and Canada

Brock University

Keri Cronin

Special Studies in Visual Culture: Picturing Animals

In 1980 John Berger famously asked, “Why Look at Animals?” Berger’s question serves as a launching point for this special studies seminar. In this course we will consider representations of animals in various forms of visual culture. From Albrecht Dürer’s The Rhinoceros (1515) to Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1992), nonhuman species have been a consistent component of Western art. Further, the animal body has been at the forefront of many technical innovations in visual culture. For example, Edweard Muybridge’s photographs for his 1887 publication Animal Locomotion have been celebrated as both expanding the boundaries of photography and an important foundation for cinematography. Likewise, Eduardo Kac’s creation of Alba the “GFP bunny” in 2000 raised numerous questions about the practice, ethics and materiality of making art. As this example demonstrates, the relationship between animals and visual culture goes beyond that of simple representation and has important implications for inter-species relationships. For instance, in recent years artists like Olly and Suzi have begun to “collaborate” with nonhuman animals in their art-making endeavours and organizations like the “Elephant Art Gallery” showcase works purportedly created by pachyderm painters.


California College of the Arts

Matteo Bittanti 

Advanced Visual Studies: Art <=> Animals 

Advanced Visual Studies (AVS) provides students with “A tactic for studying the functions of a world addressed through pictures, images, and visualizations, rather than through texts and words” (Nicholas Mirzoeff). The course has three main goals: a) to illustrate a wide range of methods, approaches, themes, and paradigms that constitute image-based research; b) to invite students to rethink the role and function of the artist, the critic, the curator, and the scholar in a predominantly visual culture; c) to develop an innovative form of research that employs a mixture of visual methods and analytical approaches within one study. AVS is always monographic, never monolithic. This year’s theme is “Art <=> Animals”. Over the past four decades, non-human animals have invaded the gallery space, from Joseph Beuys’ co-habitation with a coyote, Janis Kounelli’s installation of twelve live horses at L’Attico Gallery in Rome, Damien Hirst’s creatures in formaldehyde, Maurizio Cattelan’s taxidermied beasts, to Paola Pivi’s bears made of feathers. “Art is continually haunted by the animal,” wrote Deleuze and Guattari. How can one make sense of animals’ pervasiveness in galleries and museums? AVS specifically examines how animals are represented, discussed, hunted, consumed, and “traded” in the contemporary artworld. The course explores the work of leading artists who have produced thought-provoking, innovative, and often controversial representations of animals. This course provides a survey of the roles non-human animals have played in our cultural development and in the visual arts by discussing concepts like post-humanity, animality, reification, representation, simulation, and Otherness.


Grand Valley State University

Animals in Art

Kirsten Strom

This class explores the varied facets of human-animal relationships by examining representations of non-human animals in the visual arts. Using a thematic approach, the course considers works from prehistory to the present, incorporating imagery from cultural traditions throughout the world. Themes include: animals and the numinous, human uses of animals, animals aestheticized as sublime, beautiful, and picturesque, narrative and scientific animal illustration, attitudes toward animals in ethical and religious systems, human animality, and animals as creators of art and architecture.


Ohio State University

Amy Youngs

Aspects of Art & Technology: Living, Biological and Eco Art


University of California, Santa Barbara

Interspecies Collaboration

Lisa Jevbratt

Interspecies Collaboration is an experimental and experiential class exploring  the possibility of making art projects together with animals. The focus of the class is on  finding, communicating and working together with other species. The projects can be  manifested in a wide range of media and genres, they can be performative, visual,  conceptual etc. They should make us aware of, and facilitate, an intellectual, emotional and spiritual partnership with the species around us.


University of Michigan

Where the Wild Things Aren’t

Holly Hughes

The class works with the Humane Society of Michigan by examining the roles of companion animals in contemporary American culture and how these roles are shaped by representation. The members of the class work as volunteers at the shelter, read materials on the animal/human bond, the history of representation of animals in contemporary culture and hear presentations on wild bird rescue and rehabilitation, working with feral cats, the research on the social life of dogs, certified therapy dogs plus a field trip to Northfield Dog Training. The students create signs, documentaries, animations, Web designs, flyers and other graphics for the shelter as well as re-imagine the space for animals there, all with coaching from the School of Art & Design’s Career Development program and graphic design faculty.


York University

Matthew Brower

Envisioning Animals: Animals and Visual Culture  

This course deals with the role of visual depictions of animals in aesthetic, activist, environmental and biological contexts. It explores the role of imagery in constituting contemporary and historical conceptions of animality. The course objectives are to develop an understanding of the importance of imagery in human-animal relations.

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