Teaching with Contemporary Art

Slowing Down and Visualizing Approaches


While vacationing locally this summer (since that’s all anyone has gas money for) and taking the necessary steps to slow down in order to feed your imagination and even your own art making, make sure to visit some beautiful and engaging exhibitions on view through the dog days of August. Two of these exhibits—Henry Moore’s Moore in America: Monumental Sculpture at the New York Botanical Garden and Louise Bourgeois at the Guggenheim Museum—are outstanding places for educators to revisit both of these artists, make important connections and visualize multiple approaches to working with our students.

When visiting the New York Botanical Garden for the Henry Moore show, plan to walk a few miles in order to see all of the sculptures. Allow for plenty of time with your sketchbook and/or camera. Most importantly, give the works attention and time; allow yourself to consider how you have approached the figure, sculpture, or figurative sculpture in your own classes while walking around the pieces. Take things slow and not only enjoy the grounds but also consider how we may teach more about context and the place a work is viewed in order to see it and engage with it.

At the Guggenheim Museum, Louise Bourgeois’ exhibit will not require nearly as much walking or a camera, but the possibilities for teaching about a wide range of sculptural materials, autobiographical themes, and depictions of the figure in a variety of roles will require a step or two backward, reflection, and a comfy sketchbook once again.

Other shows of interest for educators this summer include:

At the end of August, after spending some time with Marlene Dumas’ Measuring Your Own Grave at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, I look forward to sharing an artist-educator’s take on the exhibit as well as possibilities for teaching with Dumas’ work.

Do you have some “best bets” to check out this summer? If so, please share them! If you have visited one of the exhibits above, please share your comments and thoughts.


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