Philosophy of Art series returns to Upstairs Artspace May 6

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, May 1, 2014

The popular “Philosophy of Art” series of classes returns to the Upstairs Artspace beginning Tuesday, May 6, at 6 p.m., and continuing each Tuesday, through June 17.
Taught by Dr. Deborah Fitzgerald, the series is part of an ongoing program to familiarize the public with issues surrounding the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art, and to encourage conversation about those issues within the community.
Dr. Fitzgerald has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and has taught at Rutgers University, Ohio State University, Furman University and Wofford College. Having spent much of her life exploring museums and galleries, as well as reading philosophy, her area of expertise is the intersection between philosophy and contemporary art.
In her classes, Dr. Fitzgerald draws upon her extensive familiarity with the contemporary art scene in New York, as well as that of Europe. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, she has lived in Manhattan, Berlin, the Loire Valley and California, before settling in North Carolina. She has written about the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the artist Damien Hirst; as well as Wittgenstein and the painter Mark Tansey, among others.
“She excels at interpreting complex philosophical theories in a readily accessible, always insightful format tailored to the non-philosophers among us,” says gallery director Tom Madison. “She often infuses her discussions with pop-culture references and quite a bit of humor. The classes are informative and fun – and although there’s plenty of optional reading, there are no tests. But there’s often lively discussion, especially when participants disagree, philosophically.”
This series of classes will investigate three central philosophical issues in the area of aesthetics and the philosophy of art.
One: Can art be defined, and if so, how? This question continues to be of special interest every time a new art form or style emerges. For example, in 2012 the Tate Modern had a retrospective exhibition of Damien Hirst’s work, which included his piece of a shark in formaldehyde. On what philosophical basis is this work considered art?
Two: Is there such a thing as an aesthetic experience, different from all other experiences? For example, what occurs mentally when one sees Chartres Cathedral as an art object?
Three: What is, or should be, the relationship between art and ethics? Should art always be viewed and judged only in terms of its formal properties, or are ethical or political properties essential to much of art?
The upcoming series will examine these three questions and their connection to various specific works of art in order to provide an understanding as to how different philosophical positions can impact the viewing of art.
Participants may register for all six classes, or attend and pay for each class individually. For more information and to sign up, contact the Upstairs Artspace at 828-859-2828 ( or contact Dr. Fitzgerald at

– article submitted
by Tom Madison

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox