Drawing Human Experience

2023-24 CAST Cross-Disciplinary Class

Spatial Frequencies drawing project, MIT Museum Studio 2022. Photo credit: Sarah Schwettmann.
Spatial Frequencies drawing project, MIT Museum Studio 2022. Photo credit: Sarah Schwettmann.


Equal parts studio and seminar, 21A.513 Drawing Human Experience introduces fundamental drawing techniques and their application as tools of anthropological inquiry. Students examine the human impulse to draw and what it reveals about connections between mind, hand, and eye. 

Through hands-on drawing exercises from life and imagination, students explore how the art form can generate and convey cultural insights. Drawing is a means of envisioning—a way of taking an idea or perception from our minds and putting it into the world so it can be shared and developed. With this framework, each student will share their own ideas through a portfolio of original drawings accompanied by written analyses. Award-winning author and artist Lynda Barry visits the course for a student workshop and public program.


Upcoming Event

21A.513 Drawing Human Experience
Fall 2023
MIT Museum Studio and Compton Gallery
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Building 10-150
Cambridge, MA

Lynda Barry Public Presentation
Friday, November 3, 2023
MIT Museum
314 Main Street, Cambridge, MA

Painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator, and teacher, Lynda Barry presents her work to the MIT community and general public at the MIT Museum. Details and registration information forthcoming.


Graham M. Jones is a cultural and linguistic anthropologist who explores how people use language and other media to enact expertise in practice, performance, and interaction. He investigates how language and culture shape, and are in turn shaped by, the ways in which people use technologies of digital communication.

Biography: MIT Anthropology

Seth Riskin is the founding manager of the MIT Museum Studio and Compton Gallery, a program that relates artistic and scientific methods of research and education at MIT. His research and art practice explore light and vision. 

Website: sethriskin.com
Social: Instagram

Lynda Barry is an award-winning painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator, and teacher. The recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant and an associate professor of art at University of Wisconsin Madison, Barry studies the nature of images and the role they play in day-to-day living. She is the inimitable creator behind the seminal comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek.

Biography: Steven Barclay Agency
Website: thenearsightedmonkey.tumblr.com
Social: Instagram | Twitter 


Supported by a Cross-Disciplinary Class Development grant from the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), and co-presented with the MIT Anthropology Department, and MIT Museum Studio and Compton Gallery.