Teaching with Contemporary Art

Home and (or) Away

William Kentridge creating video animation for "Breathe" (2008) in his studio, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2008. "William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible," production still, 2010. © Art21, Inc. 2010.

William Kentridge creating video animation for “Breathe” (2008) in his studio, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2008. “William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible,” production still, 2010. © Art21, Inc. 2010.

Some of the best field trips actually take place inside the school building.

For the past two years, I have organized a “portfolio day” each spring for my advanced juniors and seniors in order for them to, essentially, be locked in the studio for the day. We set aside one full school day for art making with the intention of adding to their portfolios already in progress. It doesn’t cost the school district anything, we get great gas mileage, and we even order pizza for lunch.

The benefits of having an in-school field trip of this nature are obvious at first: students get to spend an entire day focused on art making instead of one or two periods at a time. They get to work on one or more pieces vs. breaking up their process over many days. I cannot say enough about the progress we made during our first two portfolio days in 2011 and 2012, and am looking forward to a similarly successful day this year.

While many teachers have the ability to take great trips with their classes to museums, cultural institutions, and local art organizations, sometimes it is extremely beneficial to plan a trip to our own classroom studio where the sole focus for the day is an extended stretch shaping student work instead of chopping up the process into much shorter blocks of time. This can allow for not only art making but also important time for reflection, discussion, and stepping back from works in progress in order to really see them.

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. The interesting thing is, more and more businesses in the community wouldn’t mind holding an event at a school for children to learn. It would save schools more money to have inhouse field trips.

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