When someone walks into an art gallery, it’s usually not with the intention of playing mini-golf. That is, unless it’s the CSU Department of Art and Art History’s Hatton Gallery these days.

The Hatton is now home to the interactive show called “Mulligan,” a complete nine-hole miniature golf course, put together by CSU Art Department students and the Fort Collins-based experimental design studio Zero-Craft Corp.

Zero-Craft Corp. was founded by Michael Neville and Mark Dineen in 2016 with the intention of “rejecting the explicit hierarchy of a traditional ‘atelier’ studio and choose to develop a studio model that is more relational than transactional.”

Dineen is an assistant professor of Sculpture and 3D Foundations in the CSU Department of Art and Art History. When the time came to think about the next Zero-Craft collaboration, working with CSU students immediately came to mind for Dineen. “Workshops are an important part of how Zero-Craft operates…we like the immediacy and presence that the workshop environment provides. When the Hatton Gallery accepted our proposal for a show, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to engage the students here in the Art and Art History Department in a transdisciplinary way.” Dineen said after the workshop.

The workshop took place over the course of four days in January, and included students from both the graduate and undergraduate programs in the Department. Nine teams of four, thirty-six students in total, participated. Each team was led by a graduate student and had limited time and materials to work with. At the workshop’s conclusion, each team had constructed one hole of mini-golf in the gallery. Each design is unique to the team, and what’s better, they’re all completely usable.

When asked about Zero-Craft’s decision to have students construct holes of golf for the project, Dineen responded that Zero-Craft is all about making art about design and design of art. “We also like the collision of high and low brow culture and we are always looking for a way to ‘poke a stick’ at contemporary discourse,” Dineen said.  “The mini-golf course checked so many boxes for us. It’s a bizarre mash-up of spatial conditions, it’s a low-brow idea, but everyone’s done it.” Though it’s not traditional “high art,” Dineen and Neville thought it would be a fun and interesting way to challenge students. 

Zero-Craft Corp. is already in the midst of another collaboration, working on a bronze sculpture with the former chair of the CSU Department of Art and Art History, Gary Voss. However, Dineen says that the idea of another collaboration with current students is definitely on the table. “We are, of course, exploring the idea of hosting another workshop next year, but there are a lot of things that have to fall in line before that happens.” When it comes to the student involvement on the “Mulligan” project, Dineen said the students exceed his expectations.

Being met with a miniature golf course in the Hatton Gallery may be surprising to most visitors, but to Dineen, the responses from the participants and the Department were to be expected. “The biggest surprise wasn’t really a surprise at all, but the support and energy we received from the faculty and staff here in the Visual Art Building were almost overwhelming. Everyone who got swept up in our whirlwind was a great sport and contributed something really special.”

Story by Jane Thompson

Below: The students and faculty who participated in the Mulligan workshop pose for a photo during the opening of the exhibition.