Making Art: Making an Art Life

Making Art: Making an Art Life

An independent study workshop with Nato Thompson

In this independent workshop, we are encouraging artists to sign up who want a course that operates in parallel to their artistic practice. This course will offer feedback and workshops on your art and offer a variety of methods to consider where it could lead to.  In addition to both peer to peer and instructor-led feedback, the workshop will also consider a variety of methods for getting your art in front of a variety of audiences.  And finally, we will consider the spiritual and mindful techniques available for artists to allow themselves to be both vulnerable and resilient as they pursue the magical, but difficult, life of an artist.

As the art world and artistic practice operate in an ever shifting landscape, this course offers working artists practical, social and personal skills to enhance their work and the strategies by which it reaches a larger audience.


Monthly Lectures & Feedback Sessions:

Wednesdays 12 – 2pm

Mentor 1-1 Sessions: 


this will be scheduled with you during enrollment

Office Hours: TBA

***ALL Classes include FREE & Continuous Membership Access to our virtual campus Programming called Student Life
** Payment Plans Available

Nato Thompson is an author, curator, and what he describes as “cultural infrastructure builder”. He has worked as Artistic Director at Philadelphia Contemporary, and Creative Time as Artistic Director and Curator at MASS MoCA.

Thompson organized major Creative Time projects including The Creative Time Summit (2009–2015), Pedro Reyes’ Doomocracy (2016), Kara Walker’s A Subtlety (2014), Living as Form (2011), Trevor Paglen’s The Last Pictures (2012), Paul Ramírez Jonas’s Key to the City (2010), Jeremy Deller’s It is What it is (2009, with New Museum curators Laura Hoptman and Amy Mackie), Democracy in America: The National Campaign (2008), and Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (2007), among others.

He has written two books of cultural criticism, Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the 21st Century (2015) and Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life (2017). He founded the Alternative Art School in 2020.

Since January 2007, Nato Thompson has organized major projects for Creative Time including the annual Creative Time Summit, Living as Form (2011), Paul Ramirez Jonas’s Key to the City (2010), Jeremy Deller’s It is What it is with New Museum curators Laura Hoptman and Amy Mackie (2009), Democracy in America: The National Campaign (2008), Paul Chan’s acclaimed Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (2007) and Mike Nelson’s A Psychic Vacuum with curator Peter Eleey. Previously, he worked as Curator at MASS MoCA where he completed numerous large-scale exhibitions including The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere (2004) with a catalogue distributed by MIT Press. His writings have appeared in numerous publications including BookForum, Frieze, Art Journal, Art Forum, Parkett, Cabinetand The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. The College Art Association awarded him for distinguished writing in Art Journal in 2004. He curated the exhibition for Independent Curators International titled Experimental Geography with a book available by Melville House Publishing. His book Seeing Power: Socially Engaged Art in the Age of Cultural Production was published by Melville House in January 2012.

Carving Connections

In Carving Connections, we will be following the threads through our practice, into our community and out into the world. Everything is connected, but to see through the chaos we must move with clarity, intention and passion.

Over six months we will engage in exercises to further illuminate your authenticity through your art. We will focus on strengthening your daily art practice routines to build resiliency, confidence, and self-assurance. This will include helping you identify what opportunities and institutions are right for you. Discovering and learning how to harness new technologies to give yourself more time for filling your creative cup and making art. We will also be connecting with our fellow global artist community through peer to peer feedback sessions and discussions. Every month, small exercises & assignments are given to help artists dig deeper into their practice and uncover hidden truths. We will also discuss professional practice topics as they pertain to the interests and needs of the cohort.

Our Independent Study Program consists of Six Class Sessions (Always recorded), Five Peer to Peer Feedback Sessions (30-40 mins per student, per session), Three 1-1 Mentoring Sessions (30-40 mins each), & One Culminating Showcase (Public Facing)
Session Type Descriptions:

Lecture / Discussion – 2 hrs
Once a month, these group gatherings will tackle information that applies to the group as a whole. Topics for these lectures will be based on foundational TAAS theories and tailored to the cohort through the specific needs and interests you share through your intake form. Monthly lectures will include presentations, special guests, breakout discussions, and exercises.

Cohort Feedback Sessions – 2.5 hrs
Once a month, you will meet in smaller groups of 4. Within these sessions, you will use compassionate critique strategies to help clarify, problem solve, and brainstorm your projects forward. Each month, you will have 30-40 minutes of direct feedback from your peer artists. Peer artists groupings will be constructed from the information you share on your intake form.

1-1 Mentor Meetings – .5 hrs
You will have three 1-1 mentoring sessions for 30-40 minutes each. During this time, you can ask questions, get feedback & personalized coaching advice. During your enrollment period you will select your 1-1 mentoring sessions times.

Culminating Showcase – Public facing & shared across our social networks
At the end of the Independent Study Program, TAAS will host a virtual showcase of the work and projects completed. At the beginning of the program, you will be asked to set your goals for this showcase. The showcase can include but is not limited to, online exhibits, virtual performances, video/ film screenings, artist talks, performative lectures, or other alternative strategies for digital showcasing. The showcase will be open to the public, shared on social media and through our newsletter.

Monthly Lectures & Feedback Sessions: Saturdays 12 – 2pm
Mentor 1-1 Sessions: TBD (this will be scheduled with you during enrollment)

Amber Imrie is a queer artist, art educator, and founding team member of The Alternative Art School. She received her BA from UC Berkeley and MFA from Stanford University. She’s been the recipient of many awards, fellowships, and residencies including the Murphy Cadogan Award and Anita Squires Fowler Award in Photography. Amber Founded and was editor-in-chief of the art magazine, Venison Magazine from 2014-2017, ran a pop-up art residency, Camp Venison in 2015, and has facilitated critique sessions in and outside formal education. Imrie has taught at a variety of institutions, including UC Berkeley and Stanford University. Since 2020 Amber has worked alongside Nato Thompson building the Alternative Art School. Imrie lives in Winslow, Arkansas, and is developing a new body of artworks centered on queering the rural American South.