Teaching with Contemporary Art

Working Without Warhol

Margaret Kilgallen, Work on paper from installation at UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Margaret Kilgallen, Work on paper from installation at UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Last month, five different Art21 artists were featured in the first five pages of Scholastic Art magazine, an issue that celebrated contemporary women artists including Laylah Ali (featured on the cover), Margaret Kilgallen, Kiki Smith, Susan Rothenberg, and Ida Applebroog. While the overly simplified titles of the two articles, “Drawing People” and “Sketching Animals,” didn’t exactly make me lean forward in my seat, the fact that Scholastic Art has made the move (and not just with this issue) to more comprehensively include contemporary art in the magazine is encouraging. Most art educators have memories, whether they are fond or frustrating, of utilizing Scholastic Art in our classrooms. But often, we would find more than one or two issues in a relatively short time span devoted to telling stories and sharing techniques that had been shared before…and perhaps before that. Images of certain artists and artworks forced some things to be pushed into the “Stairway to Heaven” category—a classic you just don’t want to hear (or see) anymore.

In the February issue of Scholastic Art students and teachers can learn about one of the approaches Laylah Ali uses to pull viewers into her paintings and the kinds of women Margaret Kilgallen features in her work. Readers can also learn more about Ida Applebroog’s strategy of separating her paintings into panels and about Susan Rothenberg’s dreamlike drawings. The second article even concludes with a description of the etching technique used in Kiki Smith’s Wolf Girl.

Besides Scholastic Art and the usual mix of glossy art mags available in art classrooms, are there other magazines—online or hard copy—that you are using in the classroom? BOMB has become a favorite for many of the classes I work with specifically because it features artists talking with other artists. Other suggestions?


  1. kristin says:

    Thanks for mentioning this, I saw the latest issue of Scholastic and was also surprised and pleased to see the content on the first few pages.
    I’m not teaching anymore, but Art Papers seems like a good classroom mag because it’s non-profit and the current issue features a number of great articles including a cover story about Art:21 artist Mel Chin and the FUNDRED project.

  2. Nate Morgan says:

    I teach elementary age students, so I need to monitor the material that I bring into my classroom (much art that is explored in contemporary periodicals deals with sexual content and dark places that children are not meant to be exposed to yet)…but I love bringing in visuals from Art in America, Art Forum, BOMB, Art Papers, Art News, etc…..

  3. Joe Fusaro says:

    Thanks Kristin and Nate. I wonder about a variety of approaches to using these periodicals in the classroom along with the idea of sharing visual examples.

    For example, has anyone used one or more of these publications to tie in reading and writing in the art classroom? What about the BOMB interviews? Have there been feature articles that were used as part of a larger unit or discussion?

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