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"Blueprint for Counter Education" on view at Rose Art Museum
Installation view of Blueprint for Counter Education. Charles Mayer Photography.

WALTHAM, MASS.- Inaugurated during the volatile and transformative late 1960s, the unconventional publication Blueprint for Counter Education introduced the tools for a radical transformation of liberal arts education. A project of Brandeis Sociology Professor and Chair Maurice Stein and his student, Larry Miller, this “classroom in a box” encouraged participants to shape an educational environment from their own lived experiences, bridging disciplinary divides to create a socially engaged mode of learning. Blueprint’s open-ended charts mapped a world of ideas, from the avant-garde to the postmodern, in a form that presaged the Internet, allowing participants to chart multiple courses of thinking and discovery that anticipated the prevalence of search engines, social media, and the quick connection of the hyperlink.

On Sunday, April 15 at 1p.m, Stein and Miller, in conversation with Assistant Curator Caitlin Julia Rubin, will discuss the concepts and design behind Blueprint for Counter Education, which remains on view at the Rose Art Museum now through July 8, 2018.
Please note that space in the Lee Gallery, where this event will take place, is limited, and attendance will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

In an era marked by social upheaval and engaged advocacy—for civil rights, the women’s movement, and against the Vietnam War—Blueprint for Counter Education encouraged students to direct their own pathways of discovery in relation to the philosophy, art, and politics of this turbulent era. Though initially conceived of as a book, Blueprint for Counter Education was released in 1970 as a set of three large experimental poster charts and an accompanying text, designed by Marshall Henrichs, and packaged within a box that boldly proclaimed “THE REVOLUTION STARTS HERE.”

As Stein and Miller wrote, "... we advise the participant, from the outset, to drop all conceptions about Cartesian space or the space of a two-dimensional graph. The three charts, together with the infinite participative relationships they can generate, might suggest three-dimensional chess, or some other very complicated board game.”

Two key thinkers form the conceptual and graphic framework for each poster: the political philosopher and former Brandeis professor Herbert Marcuse, author of Eros and Civilization (1955) and One-Dimensional Man (1964), and media theorist Marshall McLuhan, famous for Understanding Media (1964) and The Medium is the Message (1965). As McLuhan foretold in The Medium is the Message, “Electric technology—is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted. Everything is changing—you, your family, your neighborhood, your education, your job, your government, your relation to “the others.” And they’re changing dramatically.” It is a statement that resonates today as we look back at the inception and struggle with the impact of our digital age.

According to Rubin, who organized the exhibition, “The 1960s were an important period in the history of Brandeis—an era where progressive, experimental ideas spurred academic and artistic innovation across the university, including the founding of the Rose Art Museum in 1961. It’s been a pleasure to work with Maurice and Larry on the presentation, and to have the opportunity to highlight both this revolutionary project and the ways that the culture and community of Brandeis shaped its development. While an arguably utopic vestige of this time, Blueprint remains a relevant and useful model, as today’s students continue to question the environments, systems, and content structuring their education.”

In addition to the published posters and texts, Miller and Stein’s working charts, plans, and notes chronicling their creative process (a recent gift from Stein to Brandeis’s Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections) are featured in the exhibition. Also on view is work from the Rose's​ permanent collection by Anni Albers, Charles Henry Alston, Jean Arp, Jasper Johns, Nam June Paik, Eduardo Paolozzi, Irene Rice Pereira, Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, Bridget Riley, and Yves Tanguy, and two live-footage videos of events from the Rose’s groundbreaking 1970 exhibition Vision & Television, widely regarded as the first museum exhibition of video art. Clips include footage of cellist Charlotte Moorman performing Nam June Paik’s TV Bra for Living Sculpture, and a panel discussion with artists on new, developing intersections between art and technology.

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"Blueprint for Counter Education" on view at Rose Art Museum

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