Teaching with Contemporary Art

Art21 Meets Fluxus

“Sky Laun­dry” by Ge­of­frey Hen­dricks Image: dartbeat.com

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of working with the University of Michigan Museum of Art to present “Art21 Meets Fluxus”. Over thirty teachers from a variety of disciplines came together to learn more about working with Art21 education materials and to brainstorm ways of bringing this smart and provocative exhibition, titled Fluxus and the Essential Questions of Life, into their classrooms.

The Fluxus movement, which originated in the 1960’s and was organized by George Maciunas, included artists such as Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, Dick Higgins and John Cage. Fluxus artists, like many artists working today, believed in mixing media freely and not taking things too seriously. Event scores and Fluxus boxes asked viewers and participants to play games and “perform the work”. Preparing for the workshop and reading the exhibition catalogue, I began thinking a lot about Oliver Herring and our recent TASK events with him.

During the afternoon, after participants had the chance to view the exhibit and talk about some initial ideas with colleagues, many shared possibilities for bringing games-as-art into their classrooms. We also discussed the potential for students taking more of a role in not only making art but also carrying out the performance, curating exhibitions and expanding the forms art can take, especially in the classroom. UMMA’s curator for museum teaching and learning, Pam Reister, and education program coordinator, Jann Wesolek, also encouraged the group to use the museum as a space to teach and not simply be satisfied with seeing the exhibition during our daylong workshop.

Towards the end of the afternoon I was excited to hear that UMMA will be hosting another tremendous show next year featuring work by season 6 artist El Anatsui (one of my favorite segments from this season!). Looking forward to the possibility of returning to Ann Arbor and continuing our work together.

Don’t miss this show, which runs through May 20th.

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.

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