Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Contemporary Art: The First Three Years

This week Teaching with Contemporary Art here on the blog turns 3. Frankly, I can’t believe that I’ve been writing this column for three years. At the same time, it has flown by much like academic years often do.

To celebrate I want to share some of my favorite posts from the first three years (I say the first three because if I keep from screwing things up maybe there will be another three). Links to each are provided.

A few months after beginning the column, Mining Ideas was published and began the conversation about ways of  utilizing sketchbooks in the classroom. Then In-Progress initiated what would be multiple visits to the notion of in-progress critiques.

After only a few months on the job, the powers that be were crazy enough to allow me to interview Eleanor Antin for a two-part post titled Myths, Metaphors and More. Part 1 looked into how Eleanor prepares for exhibits and handles the occasional label of being “controversial”, while part 2 discussed how she uses allegory in order to slow viewers down and really see her work.

A particularly cranky but timely post, What is an Art Contest?, zoomed in on contests without criteria and It Takes Two… or Two Hundred examined how artists today rely increasingly on others in order to realize their work.

Right around TwCA’s first birthday the post Make Less Art asked readers to think about what a quality art curriculum looks and sounds like beyond the production of objects. A few months later one of my favorite posts, …. and the Not-So-Powerful, allowed me to begin sharing stories about learning experiences related to things that haven’t gone so well in my own classroom.

Where Am I? outlined some specific strategies for starting the school year and If the Shoe Fits, Pay For It zoomed in on the (still) timely report by the Center for Arts Education regarding the state of affairs in New York City schools.

My second blog interview turned out to be another surprise, pleasure, and blockbuster for the column. Janine Antoni and I spent about an hour talking about teaching, finding a balance between being an artist and a parent, as well as discussing her most recent exhibit at Luhring Augustine. Part 1 and part 2 are posted separately. Check it out!

Interview number three presented Esopus editor Tod Lippy, who discussed his magazine-as-art and his relationship with education and educators.

For TwCA’s second birthday I wrote the post Better Than Ketchup and Vaseline, which shared the dangers of teaching with film without previewing beforehand. The column also offered some simple steps to take in order to prepare students for complex and easily misinterpreted works.

Which brings us to year three…

During the past year I’ve had the opportunity to review and report (sort of) on the Guggenheim Museum’s 2010 conference for educators in Thinking Like an Artist. Part 1 involves the many romantic ideas I had prior to the conference itself and Part 2 reflects on what actually happened, particularly with regard to Jerry Saltz’s keynote shtick.

Enjoying the Steps discussed ways of slowing students down in order to examine process and Skills Worth Teaching explored… well… skills worth teaching in light of a titillating workshop called “What’s Worth Teaching in Art?”

Last summer, Solid Sound proposed sound as an element of design and was inspired by Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA (which, by the way, I will attend again this year!). A few weeks later Teaching with Film and Objects offered multiple ways of improving our work sharing film in the classroom and taking trips with our students to museums and cultural institutions.

In Need to Know (Basics), a post inspired by a recent conversation with Lois Hetland, I began to explore the question of what art educators need to know in order to do our work well, and in When One Day is Not Enough I attempted to outline strategies for bringing more art into the lives of elementary students who only see art teachers once every five or six days… if they’re lucky.

A very popular post, Mark Bradford: Painter, was inspired by Mark’s most recent exhibit at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art and Teaching with David Wojnarowicz (and Not Teaching with the Smithsonian) suggested next steps for dealing with G. Wayne Clough in light of the debacle he initiated.

Perhaps my most recent favorite is Absolutely Uncertain, which focuses on teaching about, and with, ambiguity. It also shares artists and a few ideas for starting points in the classroom. I also enjoyed all of the comments that went with Graffiti in the Classroom as TwCA tackled ways that graffiti can perhaps make it’s way into curriculum.

It’s been a beautiful and extensive three years so far! Do you have any favorites not listed? Please share any comments. Also, please share any ideas or suggestions you may have as TwCA moves forward. Thank you!