Teaching with Contemporary Art

Humor and Beauty


How can humor be used to say something serious?

Can unattractive or disturbing things be represented in a beautiful way?

These were just two of the questions posed at last week’s workshop for Rockland County, NY art educators. During an afternoon at the Garnerville Arts and Industrial Center’s GAGA Gallery, teachers viewed season 4 segments featuring Robert Adams and Allora & Calzadilla, worked with Season 4 Educator Guides, and learned about new Garnerville programs with James Tyler, curator of the GAGA galleries.

The workshop and discussion offered a glimpse into how contemporary artists work with redefining beauty (who can resist Allora & Calzadilla’s gesture for residents of Vieques to acknowledge a new anthem celebrating the return of their land or Adams’ passionate critique of our altered landscape?). It also brought together over two dozen art educators to think about and plan for incorporating contemporary art into a variety of curricula. Through the segments featured during the October 15th workshop, participants got a chance to reflect on how the art of today works not only with beautiful images, but also beautiful ideas set into motion- sometimes on film, sometimes through performance.

How is contemporary art shaping your curriculum this year vs. past years? How has Art21 played a role in your work?