Arts in Education: Mark Bradford’s Open Studio

Arts in Ed

Image/photo courtesy of the National Art Education Association and Art21.

Did you know that this week, September 12-18, is Arts in Education Week? On July 26, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Con.Res. 275, a resolution that seeks to “support the attributes of arts education that are recognized as instrumental to developing a well-rounded education such as creativity, imagination, and cross-cultural understanding. H.Con.Res. 275 also highlights the critical link between those skills and preparing children for gaining a competitive edge in the global economy.”

As a way to advocate for visual arts education in the U.S. and abroad, this entry highlights Mark Bradford, who created Open Studio, as part of the Getty Artists Program.   This online resource features artist-designed lesson plans for for K-12 teachers, with the goal of “making contemporary arts education accessible to teachers and classrooms across the nation and around the world. Authored by noted international artists, Open Studio is a collection of art-making activities that presents the unique perspectives of practicing artists. Each activity is presented as a free, downloadable PDF that includes an artmaking prompt, an artist biography, and images of the artist and works of art by the artist.”

Kara Walker

Open Studio lesson plan by Kara Walker.

Open Studio aims to make contemporary arts education accessible to teachers in classrooms everywhere. For this initiative, Bradford, a 2009 MacArthur Genius Award recipient, solicited the participation of several artists, including Kara Walker, to make arts education more introspective than simply playing with “glitter and macaroni and crayons for an hour,” as he told the Los Angeles Times. “I think that’s why Facebook is so popular with young people,” he said. “I look at Facebook as a collage — you’re creating a sense of identity, telling the world who you are, through what music you listen to, what images you like.”  Mark Bradford explains his inspiration for the project in this video:

Mark Bradford and Getty Museum promote Open Studio for Art Educators from The Art Reserve on Vimeo.

My own initial exposure to visual art took place at an early age and I was always encouraged to take art classes, which I believe helped me to do well academically and prepared me for higher education and the world of work.   So please spread the word to let everyone know about Open Studio and contact your state legislators who set education policy to share with them how the arts are inspiring students and improving schools in your state and across the country.