"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."
Use the following questions and related media as a way to initiate dialogue about contemporary art and specific ideas related to where art is seen, how it is made, and who makes it. Related images and video segments should inspire a variety of responses and provoke new ways of thinking about possible answers.
What are the most important skills an artist can have?
"I really don't have any desire to make things directly with my hands. I don't know when I left that behind, because I studied art, but I get everything that satisfies my soul from the kinds of things that I do—bringing objects that are in the world and manipulating them, working with spatial arrangements, and then having things produced the way I want to see them. My work is strongly visual. I'm not a conceptual artist who is only interested in the idea. It's really rooted in the visual. That's where I get excited. But I have a great need for structure in a conceptual thread—perhaps throughout the works in a project—almost like a matrix more than a structure."
Watch: Mark Dion: Methodology
- On Contemporary Art
- Contemporary Art in Context
- Starting the Conversation
- Why is art important?
- What makes something a work of art?
- What is the role of the artist?
- Who decides what a work of art means?
- What are the most important skills an artist can have?
- What materials and tools do artists use to create art today?
- What distinguishes visual art from other forms of visual communication?
- Where do artists find inspiration?
- What is the difference between working alone and collaborating?
- What are other venues for exhibiting art?
- What are the subjects, issues, and themes important to artists working today?
- What role does beauty play in contemporary art?
- Does contemporary art have a purpose, a role, or a responsibility?
- Contemporary Approaches to Teaching
- Using Art21 Media in the Classroom
- Connecting to the National Standards
- Selections from the Art21 Blog
- Materials for Teaching