CMU appoints James Duesing director of the CAS

James Duesing, a professor in the College of Fine Arts, was recently appointed as director of the Center for Arts in Society.  (credit: Courtesy of James Duesing) James Duesing, a professor in the College of Fine Arts, was recently appointed as director of the Center for Arts in Society. (credit: Courtesy of James Duesing)

Carnegie Mellon recently appointed James Duesing, professor of art, to director of Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences’s Center for Arts and Society (CAS).

The CAS, a joint effort between Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts and Dietrich College, “aims to explore and impact the workings of social power and in processes of social change,” according to its website.

The CAS was founded in spring 2000 with the help of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional support from the university, the College of Fine Arts, and what is now Dietrich College.

Between its founding and 2007, the CAS provided postdoctoral and senior residential fellowships, and also offered classes and established an undergraduate minor in arts in society.
In 2008, the CAS changed its focus “toward supporting multi-year collaborative artistic and scholarly projects undertaken by Center members,” according to its website.

James Duesing, who has been a Carnegie Mellon faculty member since 1997, comes into the position of the director of CAS after co-organizing, along with professor of English Kathy Newman, the CAS Media Initiative from 2011-14.

The Media Initiative, according to a university press release, “reflected on media studies as a field and considered new artistic and theoretical issues that have emerged in response to the rise of new and digitally networked media.”

The Initiative consisted of a series of events, conferences, courses, and performances, and supported several major projects such as Occupy Facebook, which used art to examine the relationship between social media and nonviolent protest.

“CAS is at an exciting place,” Duesing said in the press release. “The initiative format has been effective at challenging faculty to think in long-term interdisciplinary ways about their work and research. I especially value the ground up approach the center takes in developing the multifaceted aspects of faculty research to work in the university and with external communities. I look forward to the innovations the new Performance Initiative will reveal and hope everyone in the university will join in and be part of the thought-provoking events and dialogue.”

Duesing is known for his work as an animator; he has worked in both traditional hand-drawn animation and digital animation. Since he began his Carnegie Mellon career in 1997, Duesing has taught courses for the College of Fine Arts on electronic time-based art and, from 1999–2003, he served as co-director of Carnegie Mellon’s STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, an interdisciplinary research institution in the arts, science, technology, and culture.

In the press release, Dean of the College of Fine Arts Dan Martin and Dean of Dietrich College Richard Scheines said jointly, “We are excited to see how James, with his considerable expertise and experience, will build on the achievements of Paul’s directorship and lead CAS in its unique interdisciplinary approach to research and education.”