Teaching with Contemporary Art

On Our Way

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It’s been a blissfully exhausting week. The day after the election, students were so excited (not to mention teachers) that most of each class session was spent reflecting on the fact that the country, or a majority of the country, had looked past skin color and chose the person they felt could steer the country into the future. By the end of classes on Wednesday, last week, we were creating paper quilts that gave each student a chance to reflect on the election and visually react to it. Not every reaction was positive or celebratory, but we put the pieces together anyway and created a single work that brought us together as a group to share our reactions with others.

Walking through Grand Central Station this past Sunday on my way to see the Mary Heilmann exhibit at the New Museum, I noticed that the atmosphere was much like late December. Christmas has come early. People were hugging, shaking hands and laughing a lot more than a few weeks prior. I couldn’t help recognizing that the atmosphere was similar in the schools I visited over the past week. While the country slowly moves through troubling economic news and a recession, there was hope and joy coming through. Possibilities were shining brighter than problems.

While I suggested a few approaches to incorporating the election in art classrooms last week, I was wondering how other teachers brought the election into their classrooms. Please share your stories….

Illustration (detail) by Karyl DelMundo, Senior, Nyack High School, NY.

Contributor
Joe Fusaro is the senior education advisor for Art21, and has written Art21’s “Teaching with Contemporary Art” column since 2008. He is an exhibiting artist and visual arts chair for the Nyack Public Schools in New York; and an adjunct instructor for New York University’s Graduate Program in Art and Arts Professions.
  1. paula matela says:

    I teach at Little Village Lawndale campus @ the World Language HS. We did an impromptu banner, 15ft. or so long and 4ft. wide???? We started with an O and wrote the quote Obama began his speech with the night before. Students wrote their feelings about how this election, this event, this quote, has an effect on their lives. The remainder of OBAMA got written on the banner, as well as cut-out portraits and personal drawings as the day went on and students layered over each other. We worked as a school community, building, layering…celebrating!!!!

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