Teaching with Contemporary Art

Rewind, The Artist’s Studio

Sharon Lockhart, "Maja and Elodie" 2003  Image: Artnet.com

Sharon Lockhart, "Maja and Elodie", 2003 Image: Artnet.com

A recent visit to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art provided two exhibits that are worth seeing if you are in town…. or within frequent flier miles for that matter. Rewind: 1970s to 1990s Works from the MCA Collection and Production Site: The Artist’s Studio Inside-Out both have works worth sharing because they give us rich examples for teaching with contemporary art. Whether you’re examining and re-examining Sharon Lockhart’s Maja and Elodie or moving into and away from Richard Long’s Chicago Mud Circle this is a chance to spend some time with works that meaningfully explore both media and ideas in the same house.

Mike Kelley’s Craft Morphology Flow Chart forces us to remember and simultaneously be repulsed by objects that at one time were perhaps considered precious. Kelley actually gets to “draw” with a history most of us can easily recall, however conflicted these memories may be. Ryan Gander’s A sheet of paper on which I was about to draw, as it slipped from my table and fell to the floor is a beautiful play and replay of an instant- exploding quietly throughout the room. And Alfredo Jaar’s Geography=War gets the viewer to carefully consider both what the work is about and why it’s constructed in the way it is.

While both shows offer inspiring works on their own, it’s the interplay of these two exhibits that make them worth seeing. Moving through (and between) both shows allows for some serious contemplation, especially for artist-educators, about how to begin merging the drive to teach about media and big ideas. Too few exhibits can truly say this.