As part of its mission, Denniston Hill has been a site for student-centered learning. Before its founding as a not-for-profit organization, the grounds hosted a design/build architecture program which served as the nucleus for some of Denniston Hill's initial site-related investigations. In the last few years, Denniston Hill has partnered with institutions of higher education to explore new approaches to pedagogy and creative scholarship.


Art & Law Program

The Art Law Program is an ongoing semester-long seminar series that began in 2010 with a theoretical and philosophical focus on the effects of law and jurisprudence on cultural production and reception. An examination of how artistic practices challenge, rupture, and change the apparatus of law completes The Program. The Program aims to attract qualified individuals in the areas of visual art, architecture, writing, curating, and law. This list is non-exclusive. Artists with new genre and post-studio practices are especially encouraged to apply, as are lawyers and legal scholars interested in the cultural effects of law. The Program was founded and is directed by Sergio Muñoz-Sarmiento. It concludes with a weekend-long retreat at Denniston Hill.

Artist as Curator

This course, taught by Jodie Jacobson in the Department of Visual Studies at the School of Visual Arts in 2013, examines contemporary curating as a form of cultural production, a practice that increasingly exhibits an ability, and furthermore a desire, to expand into more experimental and collaborative models.  The new ‘artist/curator’ has the potential to conceptually develop the specific content in exhibitions in a similarly generative way as making art ‘in the studio’.  The lab will take place at three sites: Denniston Hill, a not-for-profit agricultural/arts center in the Catskills, working contemporary artist’s studios in New York City, in the classroom using virtual or physical models or a specific site determined by the class.  Each of these sites allows students to investigate the intricacies of an artist/curator approach to thinking in diverse modalities – i.e. rural/domestic/communal, urban/commercial/individual, and didactic/collaborative.  There will be studio visits and guest lectures by artists, curators, and other art-workers, classroom discussions, and curatorial project proposals/models.  The course culminates in an artist directed curatorial project with specificities to be determined by the class: an avant-garde action reflecting the ideas posited during class discourse. 

Communities of Sense

This year-long graduate course offered at the Department of Art and Art Professions at New York University in 2011 connected a series of conversations in different disciplines and examined the relevance of space, place, and site in a digital-world. Taught by Lawrence Chua, it used history and theory to trace the development of “Land Art” or “Earthworks” that were created by a group of largely male artists in the 1960s like Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark, Walter deMaria, Dennis Oppenheim, and Michael Heiser. The course considered the ways these artists both challenged and re-inscribed the legacies of early 20th century modernist architecture, urban planning, and landscape painting. This course examined the important ways in which the work of these artists opened up a dialog about a fuller sensory experience of art and architecture alongside a critique of institutions and markets. Students considered the many ways in which “site” has since been redefined by artists, architects, and other cultural practitioners. Is the local engaged in a war against globalizing tendencies of the market place? Has “place” become an ephemeral image? What new ideas of community can be imagined by artists working with space today? The course met at Denniston Hill and concluded with a group show of work that was sited on the grounds and engaged with the themes of the course.