"Art making is a form of alchemy, in a way, because you are trying…to make gold from nothing. When it works very well is when you manage to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary."
The Teaching with Contemporary Art column on the Art21 Blog explores the many things that happen when we share contemporary art with others, especially our students. By introducing contemporary art into the classroom, our hope is to open up a world of possibilities for teachers and students. How does contemporary art expand the possibilities for thinking about art, for engaging students in meaningful discussion, and for reshaping and redefining the art they create?
But why incorporate contemporary art in a classroom when things might be going well, or when you've already got so much to cover? What kinds of skills can this approach to teaching give students—for engaging with art and ideas beyond our classrooms, after they graduate?
Whether students are being introduced to Elizabeth Murray (combining painting and sculpture) or to Mark Dion (connecting sculpture and ecology), "Teaching with Contemporary Art" focuses 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 perspectives. The posts focus on issues pertinent to teaching art in contemporary classrooms and encourage discussion across disciplines—from arts to the humanities and science.
Below are a few selections from the Teaching with Contemporary Art column.
March 2, 2011
"In today's standardized-test-driven/one-size-fits-all educational landscape, how does one teach about working with ambiguity?"
February 16, 2011
"There's a lot to be said for seeing things as if you saw them for the first time. The elementary students I was with that day taught me about trying to really see the work, first, and doing some digging about history and interpretations, second."
Teaching with David Wojnarowicz (and Not Teaching with the Smithsonian)
December 22, 2010
"Does a museum have the right to remove work previously approved for an exhibition? Is censorship ever a good thing? If so, who has the right to decide what is 'acceptable' when it comes to art?"
Mark Bradford: Painter
December 15, 2010
"Can painting be about more than brushes, paint, and canvas?"
December 8, 2010
"What do teachers of art educators need to know in order to do our work effectively? Specifically, where does contemporary art fit in, and how do we make a commitment to teach about (and with) contemporary art?"
A two-part interview with a Season Two featured artist, Janine Antoni, who talks about growing up immersed in art, her work as a teacher, and balancing her new role as a mother with that of being a full-time artist.
The Right Questions
December 10, 2008
Good teaching involves taking more time to create high-quality questions for our students to explore than it does planning the necessary steps to carry out units and lessons themselves.
Make Less Art
May 13, 2009
As we move forward as artists and art educators, it's important to make people understand (collectors, art lovers, students, parents, administrators, and policy makers) that quantity in an art program has little to do with quality.
Sometimes we truly learn the most from things that don't go so well in the classroom.
It Takes Two . . . or Two Hundred
February 11, 2009
Today's art is often created by artists working with any number of assistants, from a few close friends to teams of professionals. Learn more about how this influences and relates to our work with students.
Ideas and Objects, Ideas vs. Objects
March 31, 2010
Does an idea have to be coupled with an action or object for it to be considered art? Does conceptual art need a "frame"—a museum, gallery, public art space—to declare it art? What is art, if it's not getting you talking?