Teaching with Contemporary Art

Summer Talk

It was time to take a break.

Literally writing 101 weekly Teaching with Contemporary Art columns in a row, along with facilitating the recent Art21 Educators Institute here in New York City, got me to a point where I felt a little topped off. So… off to the beach I went with interviews in hand.

I don’t know about you but I love to arrange, conduct and read interviews. Bomb magazine, whose summer issue I recently devoured while away (check out the wonderful pieces featuring Danny Lyons in conversation with Susan Meiselas and B. Wurtz talking with John Newman) is a fantastic source for those who love interviews by and for visual and performing artists. I am also in the midst of putting together an early fall interview for our blog with Jessica Hoffmann Davis, founding director of Harvard University’s Arts in Education Program and author of Framing Education as Art: The Octopus Has a Good Day (2005) and Why Our High Schools Need The Arts (2011).

For as long as I can remember, interviews like those featured in Bomb, Harpers and Art in America have inspired me to reevaluate the kinds of things I assume in my own teaching and art making. Divergent perspectives, or perspectives that are close to my own but unfamiliar in some ways, have provided me with more than just stunning quotes to share with my students and ideas to meditate on in the studio. I find myself underlining, highlighting, bookmarking pages and sticking post-its all over the place (a well-loved book in my library looks like it’s been through hell and back). Best of all, I am introduced to new artists and possibilities for expanding my teaching. In the past two weeks I was blown away by interviews with Marlene Dumas, Mark Dion, John Duff and Antony Gormley, to name just a few. My eyes were opened to the expanding role of museums, the sometimes bizarre emphasis on uniqueness in art, the reasons and possibilities for titling works of art, major challenges in sculpture today, and even the history associated with particular colors.

Along with the periodicals mentioned above, I brought three outstanding books with me on this vacation that I wanted to recommend if you, too, are a lover of the documented conversation:

  • pressPLAY: Contemporary Artists in Conversation, published by Phaidon Books (2005)
  • Inside the Studio: Two Decades of Talks with Artists in New York, published by Independent Curators International, NY (2004)
  • Speaking of Art: Four Decades of Art in Conversation, published by Phaidon Books (2010)

For those who want even more “artists in their own words”, don’t forget to check out the companion books for each of Art21’s seasons!

See you next week. And somebody remind me to take a break before I get to 101 this time.