Teaching with Contemporary Art


Back on May 7, 2008 I wrote my first column for Art21’s blog. In that initial post I said, “Teaching with Contemporary Art is about the things that happen when we share Art21 artists with our students. It’s about what happens to their approaches making art, the way they talk about art, and the ways engagement can help shape and redefine the art they create. Whether students are being introduced to Elizabeth Murray combining painting and sculpture or to Mark Dion balancing sculpture and ecology, this blog will focus on why contemporary art in the classroom is important, the kinds of things that happen when it’s part of the curriculum, and ideas for approaching contemporary art from a variety of angles.”

After 125 posts, it’s safe to say a lot has happened.

Since we started, I have had the pleasure of interviewing artists such as Eleanor Antin and Janine Antoni, as well as Esopus’ editor Tod Lippy. There have been wonderful conversations with teachers like Abbe Futterman at The Earth School and I have gladly given over the writing reigns to top-shelf guest bloggers such as Kristin Farr, Nate Morgan, John Hammond and Julie Thompson. I have also helped plan, facilitate and write about our first two Art21 Educator summer institutes in the column… and a third is on the way in 2011.

But none of this would have ever happened without some exceptional colleagues at Art21. For this, especially on a long holiday weekend, I am truly thankful.

I am thankful that our Executive Director, Producer and Curator, Susan Sollins, has a particular faith and confidence in me that can practically rival my own mother (don’t tell Mom. Please!). Even before I officially joined the staff at Art21 a few years ago, Susan was always eager to hear my perspective as an educator and engage in conversations about how all of this fits in the classroom.

I am thankful for my close friends and colleagues, Jessica Hamlin and Marc Mayer, who have now seen me in a variety of work situations that range from cathartic to dynamic to downright embarrassing. We continue to take the time to learn and grow together, allowing Education and Public Programs at Art21 to develop into something that is not only unique, but also exciting and engaging on a variety of levels with teachers and students across the country.

Finally, I want to say thank you to both Wesley Miller and Kelly Shindler, who encouraged me to jump right in when this column got off the ground and continue to be supportive whenever I’m a little lost or confused.

Two and a half years later, I like to think that Teaching with Contemporary Art continues to provide food for thought, provocative suggestions, questions to consider and special posts that keep things interesting. So let’s hope I don’t screw it up.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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