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WSU students at Taliesin West

Washington State University Students Study American Transcendentalism at Taliesin West

Jennifer Gray | Apr 5, 2024

The Taliesin Institute hosted students from Washington State University at Taliesin West from March 4 – March 9. The studio, led by Professor Ayad Rahmani, was made possible through a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities as part of a national effort to expand the role and purpose of the humanities. Blending literature into the study of architecture and engineering, the course asked students to consider the architectural nature of the site through the lens of literary works—notably American transcendentalism—to delve deeper into their experience on campus.

WSU students working on a project at Taliesin West

WSU field trip to apprentice shelters at Taliesin West


In addition to studying the physical design of the site, students documented and engaged the multi-sensory nature of Taliesin West—sounds, smells, touch, the surrounding desert landscape, animals, and such—culminating in the creation of proposals outlining three-day mindfulness retreats for Taliesin West.

While here, the students were housed in the Apprentice Court and the Carousel. During their time at Taliesin West, they took part in several activities that were the basis for their project proposals. Activities included tours of the historic core, the shelter zone, and the David Dodge house. In the mornings, yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness walks helped to center the students each day. The students also went on several field trips visiting the campus of Arizona State University as well as spending a day at Arcosanti.

WSU students touring Taliesin West

WSU students taking a yoga class at Taliesin West

The highlight of the week was when the group came together to cook a communal meal in the Taliesin West kitchen. The students were paired with a partner, and each made a dish from scratch to share. In preparation for their return home the students presented their proposals to a packed house of Taliesin West staff, including the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation CEO, Stuart Graff, as well as faculty and students from Arizona State University.

WSU student dining together at Taliesin West

WSU Students in the drafting room at Taliesin West


Upon their return to Washington State University the students will create an exhibition assembled and curated in the gallery space of Carpenter Hall on the WSU campus. This will be a collective effort with a major focus on the week spent at Taliesin West.