Passion Draws Architects

Event: Architects Draw — Freeing the Hand; panel discussing the publication Architects Draw, by Sue Ferguson Gussow and accompanying exhibition
Location: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, 10.02.08
Speakers: Sue Ferguson Gussow — Painter & Educator; Dore Ashton — Author & Art Critic; Francois de Menil, FAIA — Principal, Francois de Menil Architect; Steven Hilyer — Director, The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archive; Michael Webb — Assistant Professor, The Cooper Union
Organizer: The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Architects Draw — Freeing the Hand.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

When artist Sue Ferguson Gussow devised an introductory architectural drawing class for The Cooper Union, she envisioned a studio where students documented anything but architecture. “Architecture is a discipline ruled by constraints,” said Gussow. “Only on paper can it roam or take wing.” Eschewing the straight lines of buildings, her students sketched curvier organic forms like those of bell peppers and peapods, learning important lessons about scale, movement, and connection in the process. Three decades later, Gussow has published the lessons and sketches from this class in Architects Draw — Freeing the Hand.

The panel, consisting of Gussow’s former students and colleagues, discussed the mysterious and romantic side of drawing and the role that passion and emotion play. Gussow taught drawing as a process of analysis, rather than as simple documentation. Former student Francois de Menil, FAIA, talked about the intimate connection created when drawing an object. An individual is only “capable of knowing something through drawing it,” he said. The process of drawing is filled with alternating moments of elation and depression, said architect and educator Michael Webb. “Passion is a dangerous word… a very destructive emotion and thing,” he said. “Drawing is like that.”