Printeresting.org came on the scene in 2008 as a breath of sorely needed fresh air for printmaking enthusiasts. Its motto: “The thinking person’s favorite online resource for interesting printmaking miscellany.” Indeed, any and everything to do with this medium is covered in frequent posts to the website, a majority of which are written by its three founders, Amze Emmons, R.L. Tillman, and Jason Urban, who are also artists, curators, critics, and professors. The three of them recently agreed to answer a few questions on what makes them – and the website – tick.
Sarah Kirk Hanley: The three of you met at the famed University of Iowa Printmaking program, from which you each received your MFA in 2002. What is it about the place that inspires such devotion to the medium? Do you think it’s an egg or a chicken thing?
Iowa has a long print tradition going back to Mauricio Lasansky. At the time we chanced into one of its largest classes of graduate printmakers in decades. Along with all of our peers, we were crammed together into a ramshackle rabbit warren of studio spaces. This made for a lively environment that was competitive but also supportive. As for why the joint continues to generate such interest, at this point the relationship is cyclical, and probably somewhat self-sustaining. There are a lot of chickens willing to go to Iowa, and they’re probably looking for the egg – or an omelet.
It was time to take a break.
Literally writing 101 weekly Teaching with Contemporary Art columns in a row, along with facilitating the recent Art21 Educators Institute here in New York City, got me to a point where I felt a little topped off. So… off to the beach I went with interviews in hand.
I don’t know about you but I love to arrange, conduct and read interviews. Bomb magazine, whose summer issue I recently devoured while away (check out the wonderful pieces featuring Danny Lyons in conversation with Susan Meiselas and B. Wurtz talking with John Newman) is a fantastic source for those who love interviews by and for visual and performing artists. I am also in the midst of putting together an early fall interview for our blog with Jessica Hoffmann Davis, founding director of Harvard University’s Arts in Education Program and author of Framing Education as Art: The Octopus Has a Good Day (2005) and Why Our High Schools Need The Arts (2011).
For as long as I can remember, interviews like those featured in Bomb, Harpers and Art in America have inspired me to reevaluate the kinds of things I assume in my own teaching and art making. Divergent perspectives, or perspectives that are close to my own but unfamiliar in some ways, have provided me with more than just stunning quotes to share with my students and ideas to meditate on in the studio. I find myself underlining, highlighting, bookmarking pages and sticking post-its all over the place (a well-loved book in my library looks like it’s been through hell and back). Best of all, I am introduced to new artists and possibilities for expanding my teaching. In the past two weeks I was blown away by interviews with Marlene Dumas, Mark Dion, John Duff and Antony Gormley, to name just a few. My eyes were opened to the expanding role of museums, the sometimes bizarre emphasis on uniqueness in art, the reasons and possibilities for titling works of art, major challenges in sculpture today, and even the history associated with particular colors.
Along with the periodicals mentioned above, I brought three outstanding books with me on this vacation that I wanted to recommend if you, too, are a lover of the documented conversation:
- pressPLAY: Contemporary Artists in Conversation, published by Phaidon Books (2005)
- Inside the Studio: Two Decades of Talks with Artists in New York, published by Independent Curators International, NY (2004)
- Speaking of Art: Four Decades of Art in Conversation, published by Phaidon Books (2010)
For those who want even more “artists in their own words”, don’t forget to check out the companion books for each of Art21′s seasons!
See you next week. And somebody remind me to take a break before I get to 101 this time.
Our latest New York Close Up is now live! Click to watch “David Brooks Tears the Roof Off” on Art21.org’s NYCU website!
What happens when a suburban roof is transplanted to an urban block? In this film, artist David Brooks and a team of fabricators construct Desert Rooftops (2011–12), an Art Production Fund commission for the last undeveloped lot in Manhattan’s Times Square neighborhood. Built on-site by SFDS Fabrication & Design Shop, the “real scale” roofs are modeled after residential homes and manufactured with the same materials and techniques—only without the supporting walls underneath. Brooks explains how the rambling rooftops are inspired by the housing boom and bust in South Florida, heedlessly encroaching on the protected Everglades like a virus. Seen as a whole, the undulating profile of shingled roofs takes on the appearance of a desert landscape of rolling dunes. Brooks’s humorous critique of McMansion architecture metaphorically links suburban sprawl, a monoculture in which the landscape is dominated and degraded by human development, to the contemporary environmental problem of desertification. Breaking with the resource-devouring logic of home construction, at the project’s completion Brooks and the Art Production Fund recycled all the materials through the non-profit housing organizations Build It Green and Habitat for Humanity.
David Brooks (b. 1975, Brazil, Indiana, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
CREDITS | New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Joaquin Perez. Cinematography: Ian Forster, Nicholas Lindner, Amanda Long, Rafael Moreno Salazar, Andrew David Watson & Ava Wiland. Sound: Scott Fernjack, Ian Forster & Wesley Miller. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long & Tida Tippapart. Design & Graphics: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: David Brooks. Additional Photography: NASA Earth Observatory Collection, SFDS Fabrication & Design Shop, & U.S. Geological Survey. Thanks: Art Production Fund, Yvonne Force Villareal, Jason McCullough, Doreen Remen, SFDS Fabrication & Design Shop, Sotheby’s, The Shubert Organization & Times Square Alliance. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.
During the television broadcast of Art in the Twenty-First Century, Season 6—Art21′s latest PBS-broadcast season of the Peabody Award-winning series—we invited viewers to submit questions for a few of the season’s featured artists. Published here are responses from artists Catherine Opie, El Anatsui, and Marina Abramović.
Q&A #2 with Mary Reid Kelley and assume vivid astro focus: Viewers are invited to submit questions for Mary Reid Kelley and Patrick Kelley and Eli Sudbrack of assume vivid astro focus. Watch videos featuring each of the artists and submit your questions on PBS.org. The artists will respond to select questions, which will be posted here later in the month.
CATHERINE OPIE Q&A RESPONSES
From Leungs via PBS.org: What influenced/inspired you to photograph in a minimalist theme in the Surfer/Ice fisherman series? How did you come up with the idea to use the bodies of people as pieces of landscape themselves?
Catherine Opie: I think the stillness for me comes with the sense of waiting for such great length[s] of time in both places to accomplish the photographs. I am using an 8×10 format to photograph with and there is much patience that comes with shooting in this format, which [is] translated to the work.
Through Andrea Geyer’s work we are offered a veritable blow-by-blow of political and social emergencies from the 2000s, in addition to more anachronistic socio-political problems and events that her work confronts. Her video installation, Parallax, for instance, begins an ongoing investigation into the fate of citizenship, foregrounding conditions of displacement among a world population unsettled by governmental responses to 9/11, 2001. Using photographs and texts in tandem, as Geyer explains, “Parallax tries to defamiliarize the ‘naturalized notion of citizenship.’”
The notion of denaturalization, which Geyer attributes to Hegel, may be a fruitful theoretical ground through which to encounter many of her images and texts, where we find a relentless questioning of the world as it exists through common sense. What overturns common sense is the drive for resistance. Geyer’s installations—guided by expertise in photography and research, as well as the tendencies of a storyteller—offer critical sites where common sense can become visible, and where this visibility can open towards the potential for resistance.
In a series of slide projections of airport interiors, one becomes able to reflect on these interiors as built architectural spaces, the projections forcing a remediation of their seamless mental and physical semiologies. In another photographic project, Spiral Lands, we see the mythologized land of the American Southwest demythologized by the doubling of photographic images that make one question the representation of natural spaces haunted by colonial violence and primitive accumulation. The miniscule differences in these photographs act as traces, opening the land to encounters beyond the transcendentalism of the genre originated by Ansel Adams and others.
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.
No Preservatives | The Science and Ethics of Contemporary Art Conservation: A Discussion with Tom Learner
Tom Learner is senior scientist at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the person responsible for the Pacific Standard Time exhibition From Start to Finish: De Wain Valentine’s Gray Column, which has received a lot of positive press reaction, including a recent article in the New York Times.
Richard McCoy: How did you arrive at your position of conservation scientist?
Tom Learner: I was trained as a chemist at University of Oxford and always loved chemistry and science; I also always loved art. But when I was finishing my degree I realized that I had stopped enjoying chemistry.
Eventually I went to see a career advisor and sat in his office for hours and hours. He asked me if I was interested in all sorts of things from research in forensics or pharmaceuticals, to teaching, even to the financial sector. I said no to them all. Eventually he pulled this scrap of paper from the bottom of his pile, dusted it off, and said “apparently art conservation is looking for students with science backgrounds.”
And for me it was one of these moments when something really clicks. From there I went on to an internship at the Ashmolean Museum, and then into the paintings conservation program at the Courtauld Institute of Art. I was offered an internship at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C. working six months with Sarah Fisher in paintings conservation and six months with René de la Rie in the Scientific Research Department. After that, a research fellowship became available at the Tate in their Science Department—to figure out the best ways to analyze modern and synthetic paints.
I got my PhD at Birkbeck College at the same time, and once the fellowship finished the Tate kept me on in a permanent position.
Abdellah Karroum is a Moroccan independent art researcher and curator based in Paris, France and Rabat, Morocco. Karroum founded L’appartement 22 in 2002, the first independent experimental space in Rabat, which inspired the formation of a number of artist-run spaces in Morocco. Nationally as well as internationally acclaimed artists, writers, and filmmakers, including Adel Bdessemed, Doa Aly, Hamdi Attia, Fouad Bellamine, Faouzi Laatiris, Cécile Bourne-Farrell and others have left their mark on L’appartment 22. In addition, Radioapartment22, an experimental online radio, provided the space with a platform for hosting equally significant projects over the past decade.
Between 1993 and 1996, Karroum served as the assistant curator at the CAPC Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux in France. In 2006 he was appointed associate curator of the DAK’ART Biennial for African Contemporary Art in Senegal; later in 2008 he became co-curator of the Position Papers program for the Gwangju Biennale, and in 2009, the curator of the 3rd AiM International Biennale in Marrakesh, followed by the curatorial project “Sentences on the Banks and other activities” in Darat Al-Funun in Amman, in 2010.
This past summer, Karroum curated the Working for Change project for the Moroccan Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale. This research and action-based project focused on producing artworks and sharing documents. After a research period in the Rif (Morocco), the project continues in Venice with the aim of proposing and studying connections between artistic production and social contexts. Morocco’s example proved significant here at the artistic and political levels, as seen in each of the proposed artworks. This curatorial project’s “practive” approach–which involves the joining of the practice of art as research to its appearance as active production (practice + active)–seeks to activate projects, including several collaborations in Morocco with feminists and other activists.
Last week when I shared an interview with Julia CopperSmith and Maureen Hergott, two of our current Art21 Educators, one set of quotes particularly struck me. At one point I was asking about whether they both had an “a-ha” moment during our summer institute together and how that moment has influenced their teaching. Allow me to rewind for a moment:
How has that “a-ha” moment affected the year so far?
Maureen Hergott: Rather then designing “projects” for our students to make, Julia and I have been trying to develop lessons that allow our students to have contemporary art-making experiences. We try to give them the foundation and confidence to be able to explore a variety of materials and make artistic choices on their own. We want them to have a sense of pride in and ownership of their artwork. Often times, we have the students working collaboratively so that they can share ideas and learn from one another.
Julia CopperSmith: I see my students once a week. As an adult it is easy to forget that for an elementary school student a week is a long period of time. It has been helpful for my teaching to begin lessons by showing my students video clips from the prior week’s lesson. Using documentation as a starting point for discussion has assisted my students in building upon their prior learning experiences.
Maureen and Julia both make important points in this part of the interview and I wanted to highlight two of them this week…
First, if we want to truly transform art-making experiences for elementary age students and move away from step-by-step craft projects that are more about following directions than being creative, then we have to construct experiences for young students that allow them to think and behave like artists. For example, less “Here’s is how we are going to transform our space” and more “How can we transform our space?” Giving students the opportunity, not to mention power, to make creative choices is extremely important as we begin to expand on what elementary art education can be.
Second, Julia’s point about using video documentation to inspire discussion is an fantastic suggestion. There are literally tons of ways to take, make and share video at this point, and using video to bridge the often gargantuan gaps between elementary art classes can be a wonderful way to maintain continuity. Students don’t need to rehash the entire previous lesson, but a few minutes of reflection, discussion and planning can go a long way. And is it any surprise that students would love to see themselves in order to inspire themselves? I mean, really.
Many thanks once again to Julia and Maureen for agreeing to the interview and for sharing their perspective with us!
This week I want to share a conversation that took place between myself and two of our current, amazing Art21 Educators…
Julia CopperSmith and Maureen Hergott teach elementary art education at Scott and Westdale Elementary Schools in Melrose Park and Northlake near Chicago. Their work has been inspiring to all of us here at Art21 so far this year, especially since they are finding ways to work with contemporary art and engage some very young students in the process. Since we will soon be accepting applications for year 4 of Art21 Educators, I am happy to post this interview which was just wrapped up last week. Enjoy!
Joe Fusaro: First, could you both talk about why you applied to be a part of the Art21 Educators program? Did one person convince the other? If so, how?
Julia CopperSmith: I learned about Art21 in college after watching an episode of Art in the 21st Century in an undergraduate studio foundations class. Art21 really impacted my thinking; I thought it was a really exciting program. I remained abreast of Art21’s programs, educational resources, and read Art21’s blog. I learned about Art21 Educators through the blog and immediately informed Maureen about it. Maureen and I had already been collaborating on lesson planning and attending other professional development activities together. We already had a great collaborative practice and parallel views about elementary art education. We were already focusing on teaching using contemporary methodologies and practices, and had both used Art21 artists and films in our lessons. So we thought this would be a perfect experience to participate in and hoped it would enrich our teaching practice.
Maureen Hergott: I remember being so excited and a little nervous when she first forwarded me the information. While we had participated in several local contemporary arts professional development activities, this whole Art21 thing seemed like so much more of a big deal! I had seen a few Art21 episodes throughout the years and really enjoyed them, but never used the many resources Art21 had to offer in my nine years teaching art. Julia and I decided right away that we would be thrilled to participate in the program, so we embarked on the daunting application process. I say “daunting” because, well… it IS daunting. Daunting yet do-able. Actually, the application process turned out to be quite a learning experience for both of us. We never really experimented at any length using iMovie, and we did just that to make our application videos. We basically started learning some of the skills that would be required of us throughout the year as soon as we began the application process.
JF: What were you hoping to get out of participating when you first applied?
JCS: We wanted to have more of a conversation about how to incorporate contemporary art and art making practices into the elementary classroom. We had been discussing this topic between ourselves, and we wanted an opportunity to have this discussion with other teachers as well. We were also excited to meet other educators and hear about what they were doing with their students. We liked the idea of being in a community of educators, and wanted to see how they successfully incorporate contemporary art into their curriculum.
MH: In many of the other professional development workshops we attended together, there was a strong focus on how to teach with contemporary art at the high school level. We felt (and still feel) that it was just as important to teach using contemporary art and art making practices with our elementary students. We wanted to further expand our knowledge of using contemporary art in our classrooms. We were also hoping to meet other art teachers with similar interests who wanted to teach in ways that might inspire our own teaching practice.