Teaching with Contemporary Art

Gearing Up for Summer


The last thing teachers want to hear in June is that we have to start planning for September. While this is unfortunately true, there is still a summer to be had! The Teaching With Contemporary Art column this summer will feature both guest writers and a series of “best bets”—exhibits, workshops, and destinations that can fuel our creative spirit and inspire our work as contemporary art educators.

While Art21 gears up for our annual National Education Advisory Council meeting later this month—a gathering of educators and museum professionals from around the country who review, give feedback and help Art21 plan future education initiatives—I wanted to ask how YOU are gearing up for summer and for September. How do you recharge and get perspective during the summer? While it helps me to teach someplace totally different (I’ll be teaching for a week at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in August) or have the opportunity to work on my own art in a new place (such as the Teacher Institute for Contemporary Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago), I am interested in sharing the different ways that summer helps us plan for a new year. Please share your stories and plans!

Untitled illustration (perhaps a future hybrid?) by Katie Sperling, age 16.


  1. Susan says:

    Great question:) I am an arts consultant, so I work a bit differently, but I am interested in hearing what others do over the summer.

    Myself…I get out and sing for the summer celebrations, I am working on bringing in speakers that are of interest to the educators with whom I work, writing on my blog (which includes taking photos, dream journaling, looking on museum websites for ideas, uploading youtube videos of our singing…)

    The summer gets filled with creativity!!!
    Thanks for asking,

  2. stephanie says:

    Every summer has been stressful since I started teaching Due to more emphasis on Math and Reading I have changed schools every summer. This summer I plan not to plan the next school year. This will be my fourth year teaching I have enough plans.

    In September I am getting married so I will be planning my wedding.

    I know I will see artwork and make my own artwork and will continue getting inspired for the next year no matter how much I try to avoid thinking about school during the summer. Hopefully I will be too busy and will leave school for the school year.

  3. I just completed my fourth year of teaching after a 15 year career as an arts administrator so, these summers off are still an unbelievable treat for me. Mainly, it’s an opportunity for me to spend more time in my studio. This year, I will also be working to put together an exhibition of my students’ work at the Ice House Cultural Center here in Dallas. I also need to work on my Spanish so I will be going to Mexico for a week or so.

  4. Joe Fusaro says:

    Sometimes taking time to recharge is best (Stephanie) and sometimes taking time to literally sing through the summer helps to celebrate and appreciate our work even more (Susan). I can certainly identify with all of the comments so far. Time in my own studio in Garnerville, NY, helps to maintain a balance between the work I want to do for myself and the kinds of work I want to share with students and colleagues.

  5. Nate Morgan says:

    First, let me say that I hope that everyone’s summer is off to a great start!! Good luck with your wedding Stephanie.

    Currently I am in Chicago and I spent yesterday at the Art Institute – I find an incredibly Piet Mondrian landscape paitning and just sit and look at it. As a nightcap, I then stroll around and find a little Georgio Morandi still-life painting. I do the same thing anytime I go to the Art Institute. Of course, my mother was tugging at me to rush down to the gift shop…

    Other than that, I just work in my studio…work in my garden…if there is a marathon of Real Housewives then that will take up a day or so…

    I am planning a tremendous Art Education conference for December. Dr. Lois Hetland will be the featured keynote speaker…AND OUR VERY OWN JOE FUSARO WILL BE PRESENTING A WORKSHOP!!!!

    I did see a great show at Gagosian the other day – I forget the name of the artist…but it was all about scale and perception – I might try to figure a way to incororate that into a lesson plan or two….

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