"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 makes something a work of art? Is art defined by particular boundaries or characteristics? If so, what are they, and how have they changed over time?
"I try to make a piece that's strong and thorough and doesn't jump off the paper. It's neither ocean nor a piece of paper. It becomes a third thing."
Watch: Bruce Nauman in "Identity"
- 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