Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Contemporary Art: An Introduction


This is my first-ever blog post.

There…. I said it. Everyone and their Mom has a blog somewhere and I guess it was bound to happen to me, too. Blogging, I suppose, allows for a kind of rolling perspective reel. It allows for not just multiple perspectives but even overlapping ones. At least that’s what I hope. It certainly should be more than just a “report” on contemporary art education.

Teaching with Contemporary Art (the title of this column) is about the things that happen when we share Art:21 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.

But why bother? Why incorporate new artists in your classes when things might be going well enough? Students are producing strong work, perhaps. They “know the elements and principles.” But how well are they able to articulate their thoughts about art being made today? What kinds of skills can we give them for engaging with art beyond our classrooms after they graduate? These are some of the questions I’d like to take on as we get started….

Artwork by Nicole Bencivengo, Nyack High School, 2007.