Teaching with Contemporary Art

Teaching with Change

Ai Weiwei, Surveillance Camera, 2006. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Last week I presented a Season 6 Access screening of the Change episode featuring Catherine Opie, El Anatsui and Ai Weiwei. During the screening I made some notes to share when it comes to ideas for teaching with this particular hour…

First, what kinds of change are illustrated in this episode? Some of the art featured calls for different kinds of change and other works shed a light on changes occurring around us. Which works in this episode specifically engage with the theme? Which works ask the viewer to consider a specific kind of change?

Second, how does each of the three artists document the transformation and change of physical materials, places, and even ways of thinking? How does each artist work with transformation and change in multiple ways and how does collaboration affect the art created?

Finally, what kinds of things can students experience and learn from working with this episode? Possibilities include:

  • Investigating how different artists document and perhaps provoke change.
  • Exploring a single theme by engaging with diverse media and materials (and this goes for each Art21 episode- all twenty four of them).
  • Engaging communities-small and large- as collaborators and subjects.
  • Experiencing diverse approaches to storytelling.
  • Enabling conversations that include topics we sometimes avoid talking about, such as how we perceive (not to mention treat) people who don’t look like we do or the role of surveillance in our lives.

If you missed the Change episode last month you can view it here as well as download the educators’ guide in a simple PDF file.

Until next week. Spring is here.

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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