Back in October, 2009 I wrote a post called Teamwork which focused on the fact that, as educators, we often have to work creatively with others in order to construct meaningful, age-appropriate and fun lessons. The best lessons and units of study are often the product of people working together, including educators, community members, parents, and of course students.
When I look back just four years ago I realize that my experience with collaboration has changed and evolved into other forms. Collaboration today often involves taking steps on the front end of ideas to gain perspective instead of asking for assistance when I am up to my neck. Sometimes when I am excited about an idea for a particular lesson I need my colleagues to help me straighten out the initial planning before I get too involved in what I was originally excited about. Logistics need to be considered first.
Another path to collaboration these days involves getting more information from (and about) my students before planning all of the steps necessary to work through a project or series of lessons. Giving students a larger role in the planning phase, not just in the product phase, has produced significant changes to what I thought were solid ideas. For example, students recently suggested that we expand a unit involving a variety of approaches to printmaking. Instead of stopping at the approaches that were going to be introduced, students suggested adding a layer that involved pushing the definition of what printmaking can actually be. Students wound up printing on a variety of surfaces, not just paper, and realized that the “art” is not just the design itself. The surface that holds the ink completes the picture and can make or break the overall quality and success of the work.
Looking back at the Teamwork post, I realize that collaboration for me today is larger, more nuanced, and involves a broader range of those I work with.
In this week’s roundup, Kara Walker exhibits in Chicago, Ann Hamilton shows new prints inspired by textile techniques, Fred Wilson receives the New York City Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, and more:
- Kara Walker has an exhibit on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. Titled Rise Up Ye Mighty Race, it includes five large framed graphite drawings and 40 small framed mixed media drawings along with cut paper silhouettes. The title of the show refers to comments made by Barack Obama in his 1995 book, Dreams from My Father, about the challenges of community organizing in Chicago. The exhibition closes August 11.
- Ann Hamilton and artist Cynthia Schira have realized a collaborative exhibition at the Spencer Museum of Art (Lawrence, KS). An Errant Line: Ann Hamilton / Cynthia Schira—which consists of room-sized, site-specific installations—makes use of digital technologies as a means of exploring the fundamental nature of cloth, and the ways museums organize and maintain material legacies. Hamilton and Schira consider the role of the hand and human practices that reveal and conceal. Their installations are on view through August 11.
- John Baldessari has work on view at Galerie Michael Janssen (Singapore). Keep It Simple. Keep It Fresh. comprises a series of collaborative works by Meg Cranston and John Baldessari where Baldessari supplied the text and Cranston supplied the color. The title of their exhibition comes from Baldessari’s 1968 text Advice to Young Artists in which he states: “Whatever you decide to do, remember to keep it simple, keep it fresh, and have some idea of what you are going to do.” In a recent joint interview, published in Trebuchet magazine, the artists provide insight into color theory, the secret of emerald green, and more. Their exhibition closes March 13.
- Human Wave: The Videotapes Of Raymond Pettibon marks the first time that Raymond Pettibon‘s feature-length videos have been shown together in the UK. Crudely shot using home video equipment, each video profiles a different radical subject drawn from the last twenty years of West Coast subculture. This work is on view at Space Studios (London) until March 17.
- Trenton Doyle Hancock will show new work later this month at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery (London). Commissioned for their space “The Box,” this unique architectural setting consists of a floating white cube set inside a black vertical opening. For this, the gallery facilitates new projects with important emerging and established artists. Hancock’s work will be presented March 16–April 27.
- Allan McCollum will present work at the MFC-Michèle Didier (Brussels, Belgium). The Book of Shapes will explore the artist’s use of shapes and forms. According to the press release, this show comes directly from The Shapes Project (2005) that was initiated by McCollum and “provides a system for producing shapes, each different, and each destined to be assigned to a single individual.” The exhibition is on view March 22–May 18.
- Fred Wilson has received the Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture for his outstanding contribution to New York City’s cultural life. The Mayor’s Awards for Arts and Culture were created in 1976, when the Department of Cultural Affairs was founded, and given annually until 1994. Mayor Bloomberg revived the awards in 2004 to acknowledge the role the arts play in creating a vibrant and economically healthy city.
- Allora & Calzadilla are working with the Sydney Dance Company and Kaldor Public Art Projects (Australia) to create new and unique choreography for their artwork Revolving Door. This is part of Kaldor’s Public Art Project #27, entitled 13 Rooms, which “brings together 13 famous artists and more than 100 performers to present an innovative group exhibition of ‘living sculpture’ within 13 purpose-built rooms.” Revolving Door will be performed by a rotating cast of 40 local dancers over the 11 days of the exhibition. Performances take place April 11–21, 11am–7pm daily. Entrance is free to the public.
- Paul McCarthy will mount his largest United States installation to date at the Park Avenue Armory later this year. WS is a raw re-imagining of the Snow White story set in a huge artificial forest; it will appear to float like a sound stage in the armory’s cavernous drill hall.
In this week’s roundup William Kentridge’s collaborative video, John Baldessari’s double life of objects, Allan McCollum’s perfect couples and more.
- Louise Bourgeois, Topiary: The Art of Improving Nature is on view at the Fayetteville University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center. The show celebrates Louise Bourgeois’ Topiary, a portfolio comprised of nine large-scale copper plate etchings. The Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to display this portfolio in its entirety. The exhibition runs through December 13.
- William Kentridge: I am not me, the horse is not mine is on view at the Tate Modern (London). William Kentridge‘s eight-channel video installation is projected simultaneously across the gallery walls, each film is played on a continuous loop to create an immersive audio-visual environment, which resists the establishment of a single narrative. This work is on view until January 20, 2013.
- John Baldessari has work on view at the Marian Goodman Gallery (NYC). Double Play presents all new work by Baldessari, including a series of paintings on canvas that aim “to make the unimportant important.” Song titles from the likes of Tom Waits mingle with the visual fragments Baldessari pulls from sources ranging from the 18th to the 20th century, prompting exploration of the objects’ double life. This show closes November 21.
- Richard Serra is on view at the Gagosian Gallery (NYC). In addition to Richard Serra‘s new show, a drawing catalogue is available here. The exhibition closes December 22.
- Allan McCollum‘s The Shapes Project: Perfect Couples is on view at the Barbara Krakow Gallery (Boston). In this show McCollum has expanded the scale of his interest in the complexity of social relationships to objects by initiating an excursion into picturing tens of billions of unique shapes, and imagining the task of creating singular unique objects that could be distributed to each person on the planet. This show in on view through November 24.
- Barry McGee talks about his creative process via MOCA TV. The online channel enlisted filmmaker Alex Kopps to document McGee’s installation of his mid-career retrospective at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. The show closes December 9.
In this week’s roundup Cai Guo-Qiang is a 2012 prize laureate, Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman are honored, Laurie Anderson performs in Albuquerque, several artist celebrate Warhol, Walton Ford designs the Stones’ album cover and more.
- Cai Guo-Qiang won the Praemium Imperiale, an international arts prize patronized by Japan’s ruling dynasty, worth 15 million yen ($192,600). This is a global arts prize awarded annually by the Japan Art Association.
- Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman will be honored at the Hammer Museum’s 10th anniversary Gala in the Garden, which will include a performance by singer Katy Perry. Actor Steve Martin will present the tribute to Sherman and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow will make the presentation for Kruger. This year’s Gala is set for October 6.
- Carrie Mae Weems is having her first comprehensive retrospective, which opened at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (Nashville, TN). Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video includes some 225 photographs, videos and installations, from her earliest, never-before-published ’70s documentary photographs to brand-new pieces. It will travel to the Portland Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cantor Center for Visual Arts and the Guggenheim Museum. The Frist show is on view through January 13.
- Kalup Linzy celebrated Andy Warhol at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC). Linzy performed as Kaye (who the artist refers to as the “Romantic Loner”) in a video and live performance that comprised this weekend’s Warhol Cabaret. The event was part of the kickoff for the museum’s new exhibition Regarding Warhol which also features work by Ai Weiwei, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Vija Celmins, Alfredo Jaar, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Glenn Ligon, Allan McCollum, Bruce Nauman, Catherine Opie, Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto and many more. The exhibition runs through December 31.
- Walton Ford joins a list that has included Andy Warhol, Guy Peellaert and Peter Corriston by designing the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary album. For the cover of The Rolling Stones, GRRR!, the compilation album due out in November, Ford recontextualised John Pasche’s iconic lips-and-lolling-tongue logo.
- Laurie Anderson is a featured speaker at the Inter-society for Electronic Arts (ISEA2012) conference in Albuquerque, NM. For A Conversation with Laurie Anderson & Tom Leeser Anderson will speak with Leeser, co-leader for The Cosmos: Radical Cosmologies theme. This event takes place on September 24.
One of my students read last week’s post and was interested in playing devil’s advocate by asking a few more questions about the recent New York Close Up segment, David Brooks Tears the Roof Off. Since some of the questions he brought up were similar to others discussed in the high school and graduate classes I teach, I asked if it was ok to share the questions with all of you and answer them as best I could in this week’s column. If you have anything to add, please feel free! Here goes….
Joe, couldn’t a creative roofer have completed the same project? Was an artist really necessary for a work like this?
First, very few roofers, even fancy ones, are being approached or directly involved with the Art Production Fund, who arranged for David Brooks to complete the project at this particular site- the last piece of empty, undeveloped space in Times Square. Works installed here, including a recent installation by Kiki Smith, have a connection to the surrounding area or make a connection in the work to the context itself. A “creative roofer” could not simply propose a similar project out of nowhere, and even if they did they wouldn’t be telling the same story or making the same associations, so it would be a completely different work even it looked exactly the same.
Wouldn’t a video feature like the one presented on New York Close Up have helped viewers enjoy the piece more? Why is so little information presented in spaces, especially galleries, featuring contemporary art?
More and more venues, particularly some of the larger museums such as Mass MoCA, offer plenty when it comes to giving viewers a narrative about what they are looking at. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it actually interferes by trying to dress up an otherwise lackluster work or exhibition. But the bottom line is that the artist and curator have to work out how much is going to be said (told?) up front and how much will be left for the viewer to surmise. I am sure David Brooks could have told his story from start to finish in a variety of ways for those passing by on the street, but that would be David telling viewers what the piece means to him and the associations he makes when he sees the completed work in context (because, as you know, David never saw the work complete until it was, well, complete. This is not a sculpture that was moved from another location. Rather, it was site-specific). David is interested in the connections and associations that viewers themselves make when seeing this installation. As an artist I too am more interested in what viewers bring to the work than whether I can tell the entire story for them. Continue reading »
In this week’s roundup Kara Walker sources work from Harper’s, Cindy Sherman arrives in San Francisco, several artists address political and aesthetic urgency in Minneapolis, and more.
- Kara Walker‘s series Works from Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) is featured in the July 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine. The series, which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art last spring, consists of fifteen lithographs and prints created using enlargements of woodcut prints from the book. Four images, all named after their source images’ captions, are featured: Exodus of Confederates from Atlanta, Cotton Hoards in Southern Swamp, Occupation of Alexandria, and Pack-Mules in the Mountains.
- Robert Adams and An-My Lê are on the shortlist for Prix Pictet. This international photography competition seeks to promote sustainability, and this year’s theme is power. Portfolios tackle subjects such as Lê’s training maneuvers at a Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. This work will be part of an exhibition set to open at Saatchi Gallery (London) following the award announcement on October 9.
- Cindy Sherman opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In the exhibition Cindy Sherman draws from many sources and she has produced series of works – consistently untitled – known by nicknames such as “head shots,” “clowns,” “centerfolds” and “society pictures.” In the process, she has taken the artifice of photography to new levels of scale, complexity and intensity. The show closes October 8.
Time just feels like it moves a hell of a lot faster than it used to. This past Art21 Educators summer institute, which was recently held from July 2-10 here in NYC, just FLEW.
Sixteen art, science, Spanish, English, special education, language arts and social studies teachers came together with us for eight days of workshops, conversations, artist visits, studio visits and museum visits (not to mention front row seats to the July 4th fireworks at 601 Artspace and a wonderful dinner together to top it off) in order to explore ways of utilizing contemporary art to foster student learning. This is a term we all want to hear nowadays but is often tied to some horrific standardized test, assessment or evaluation. The fact remains that students learn when they have meaningful experiences, not tidy tests. Unfortunately, data is a lot easier to report than the qualities of people, things and moments in time.
But I digress!
Our summer institute, which started with Oliver Herring and a stripped down TASK party at Luhring Augustine Gallery, moved between experiences where teachers had the opportunity to learn from each other, five of our Art21 artists (Oliver, Charles Atlas, Allan McCollum, Mary Reid Kelley and New York Close Up’s Diana Al-Hadid), the superheroes at Dieu Donne Papermill and MoMA, as well as our team here at Art21.
It’s hard to explain how excited I am to work with our current group. The fact that big, important questions drove not only the units of study teachers began to develop, but also much of our time together, really is inspiring. And here are just a few of them:
- What is beauty?
- What is cool?
- What is the role of the media in an election year?
- How do we construct and express identity singularly and collectively?
- What stories can art tell?
- What is the nature of creativity and why is it important to use our creativity responsibly?
- How does the media define gender?
- Can we find beauty in the ordinary?
- What makes a global citizen?
As you can probably tell, this was no ordinary summer workshop series, and the possibilities for teaching across disciplines in the coming year as we work with these sixteen energetic and passionate educators are, to say the least, exciting.
Very much looking forward to our first monthly online meeting next month. Love to all!
Below are a few more snapshots taken during the institute… Continue reading »
In this week’s roundup, a Catherine Sullivan collaboration in Chicago, Mark Dion is in the record, Marina Abramović and Eleanor Antin perform identity, Cai Guo-Qiang and Hiroshi Sugimoto blur the line between art and commerce, and more.
- Catherine Sullivan and Company’s Inaugurals is now on view at the Logan Center (Chicago). The two works in this exhibition, The Last Days of British Honduras and Ice Floes of Franz Joseph Land, were filmed in Chicago and in locations that opened themselves to creative interpretation. These works feature Catherine Sullivan in collaboration with other artists. This exhibition is on view through April 22.
- Mark Dion and several other artists are featured in Miami Art Museum’s The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, a group show that digs into the relationship between vinyl culture and contemporary art. Through sculpture, installation, drawing, painting, photography, sound work, video and performance, this exhibition combines contemporary art with outsider art, audio with visual, and fine art with popular culture. The show closes June 10.
- Mark Dion is also profiled in the March 30, 2012 issue of the New York Times’ Style Magazine from this past weekend.
- Judy Pfaff‘s work was selected for Tandem Press: 25 Years of Printmaking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Created to foster research, collaboration, experimentation and innovation in the field of printmaking, Tandem Press produces museum-quality fine art prints by nationally recognized artists. The exhibition will run until May 11.
- Allan McCollum and Laurie Simmons have work in Blondeau Fine Art Services’ (Geneva) Last Exit: Pictures. The show explores the rivalry between photography and painting, as well as appropriationist theories which were fiercely debated at the time. The title is a reference to a Thomas Lawson work, which was released in 1981, advocating the importance of painting in the emergence of this practice. This work is on view through April 21.
Over the past few weeks I’ve thoroughly enjoyed talking and e-mailing with two more of our current Art21 Educators, Jethro Gillespie and Jack Watson. Jethro teaches Studio Art, 3D Design, Ceramics and more at Maple Mountain High School in Utah while Jack teaches 2D Art and Art History at Chapel High School in North Carolina.
Similar to Julia Coppersmith and Maureen Hergott, whom I interviewed a few weeks back, Jethro and Jack have an infectious passion for the the things they teach and accomplish with students. Both look for ways to better engage their classes on a consistent basis and avoid “window dressing” projects that may look pretty but aren’t necessarily about very much…
Since participating in the summer institute, could you describe a significant change, improvement or extension of your teaching practice? Has the experience also in some way affected your own art making?
Jack Watson: There are lots of little ways that the Art21 experience works its way into my classroom – visual brainstorming with post-its, discussion prompts, the “parking lot” – but I think the most significant change to my pedagogy is reframing my curriculum within central questions, as opposed to objectives. Like most teachers, I was trained to construct lessons rooted in standards with clearly defined objectives. This is useful if you want your students to produce the same result, but frustrating and limited for working with open-ended ideas and contemporary art practices. A framework of central questions opens the space to dialogue, ideas and possibilities.
As for my own practice, I’ve learned to embrace chance, and to focus more on the process than the product. I think in particular of our visit to Oliver Herring’s studio in Brooklyn. His work is so process-oriented, and he made such a strong impression on all of us that week. I was most surprised that his studio was devoid of any of the trappings of a traditional artist’s studio: no easels, paints, etc. Aside from some photos and a pile of TASK artifacts, I remember it being an open space full of possibilities- much like the classrooms we’re trying to create. He might resist this metaphor, but it left an impression on me!
Jethro Gillespie: The most visible change in my own teaching since the summer institute is the inclusion of TASK parties. I’ve organized various TASK events with my own students at school and at 3 different conferences for fellow art educators since the summer institute. And to echo what Jack said, meeting Oliver Herring was for me probably the most memorable and inspiring part of that experience.
For me, TASK is so simple and so brilliant- I think the underlying, formative ideas behind TASK have to do with the relationship of the participants that engage with it, and also focusing more on the process than the product. As a teacher, having a TASK party with my students (right at the beginning of the school year) demonstrated and nurtured a genuine trust between me and my students, especially when it came to issues of power and control in the classroom.
In my first few years of teaching I tried to “manage” my class with some admittedly top-down, almost militant strategies in order to try and ‘control’ different situations. This ultimately left most kids feeling dis-empowered and often led to power struggles that I didn’t want to deal with. I’ve since tried to examine and focus my teaching practice on building a healthy and generative class environment in order to help students feel more empowered- especially when it comes to creating meaningful student art projects. Being involved with TASK has really helped me to re-examine my own teaching practice concerning these issues of relinquishing control in order to form relationships of trust with my students. And as an art teacher, TASK has also helped me shift my focus away from simply getting students to produce things, and towards getting students more involved with the process of creating.
In this week’s roundup, Gabriel Orozco and Mike Kelley mix with Turkish artists, Fred Wilson to be honored in Georgia, Carrie Mae Weems to talk about narrative photography, Louise Bourgeois’s restored helping hands, and more.
- Works by Gabriel Orozco and Mike Kelley are among several others that are part of SaltVanAbbe which brings acclaimed works from the collection of the Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), mixing them with new commissions and selections made by Salt (Istanbul). The project is thought to be one of the biggest cultural collaborations between Turkey and the Netherlands in terms of its longevity and the number of works borrowed. This work will run across both locations from January 27 – April 6.
- Allan McCollum is in a group exhibition at the James Cohan Gallery (NYC). Object Fictions assembles works that investigate notions of perception, in its many definitions. Through a variety of media and processes, these artists explore the potential of ordinary objects, historical events, invented narratives and in some cases even other artworks, to expose reality through the lens of fiction. McCollum’s featured work, The Dog From Pompei (1991), is a series of replicas made from the famed plaster cast of a chained dog smothered in ash from Mount Vesuvius in ancient Pompeii, 79 A.D. The exhibition runs through February 11.
- Carrie Mae Weems‘s series From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried is on view at the Getty Center (Los Angeles) as part of Narrative Interventions in Photography. This exhibition explores the concept of storytelling through photographic works. Weems’s art attempts to rewrite a profound aspect of human history; all works are concerned with photography and the notion of narrative: implied, real, or revised. Visitors to the web site can hear Weems describe her work, which is on view until March 11.
- Carrie Mae Weems will also join actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith and artist Eileen Cowin for an evening of conversation and readings at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. They will discuss Cowin’s and Weems’s works on view in Narrative Interventions in Photography at the Getty Center, and will explore how storytelling impacts their art making. The event takes place on Thursday, January 26 at 7:30 pm.
- Judy Pfaff will have a solo exhibition at the Bruno David Gallery (St. Louis). Recent Work will exhibit Pfaff’s “adroitness in creating smaller works of art.” Bringing together several kinds of media and methods of art-making together, Pfaff redefines the capacities of what art can be. A fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Buzz Spector and Kara Gordon accompanies the exhibit. This exhibition will be on view January 27 – March 3.
- Community leaders in Chicago recently rededicated Louise Bourgeois’ Helping Hands, a tribute to Jane Addams, social worker, reformer, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient. The artwork suffered vandalism, was restored by Bourgeois, and went into storage until the Park District and the Art Institute of Chicago worked together to install it at the Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens.
- Mark your calendars now for the Cindy Sherman retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art. This exhibition will trace the groundbreaking artist’s career from the mid-1970s to the present and will run February 26 – June 11.
- Ellen Gallagher‘s work will be presented in Printin’ at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) next month. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Print/Out, Printin’ takes as its starting point Gallagher’s DeLuxe (2005), a series of 60 works that challenged traditional ideas of what a print could be. This technically complex work employs a veritable riot of mediums, unorthodox tools, and elements, from slicks of greasy pomade to plastic ice cubes. This show will run February 15 – May 14.
- Fred Wilson will be honored by Savannah College of Art and Design’s deFINE ART 2012 in February. Wilson will be recognized for his work and influence on contemporary art and he will give public talks at SCAD’s 4C Event Space in Atlanta (February 22) and the Trustee’s Theater in Savannah (February 23). Wilson will also present an artistic intervention into the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art at the SCAD Museum of Art.