First thing Monday morning …a class of lively students engage in discussions on the big issues. What makes a good teacher? How can you help students without being controlling or dictatorial? How do we talk to children about their art? Can one grade art? How does one determine criteria for assessment? What is the value of grading? What does abstract mean? Are there still distinctions between “high art” and “low art?” Is it art just because it is in a museum? What is the role of politics in art? What are the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and can they both have value? Can one integrate the teaching of skills with more conceptual concerns or should they be dealt with separately? Where does one go to see art?
These questions come up as result of readings, making art in the classroom and a recent gallery expedition. The literature they are reading presents new vocabulary, examples of models for assessment, and provide images and descriptions of students making socially engaged art. Different traditions in art education are introduced, as are the philosophers and teachers who have developed them. The students have read articles/ chapters by Olga Hubbard, Diane Jaquith, Karen Popovich, Olivia Gude, Micheal Day and Al Hurwitz, among others.
In February we all went to Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in Long Island City where my work is part of the group show, Thaw, a show roughly built around the theme of climate change. The exhibition curator, Jill Connor, gave the students a tour of the show. For most students this was their first exposure to a curator. I later realized, after reading their papers on the experience, that it was, for many, their first trip to an art gallery. The students left the show with new knowledge of the whole process of curation; from writing a proposal to hanging a show, to writing a catalog. Students were most impressed by the variety of work in the show—particularly enjoying the nontraditional materials in the work of Michelle Brody, who planted seeds in her paper pulp and allowed them to grow and die. They also liked sitting in Itty Neuhaus’ installation and watching the video of Janet Biggs. They related to the sculpture of Elizabeth Jordan (very crowded hemmed- in fish) and appreciated that you could make art by cutting up maps (Phyllis Ewen.)
Back in the classroom at CCNY students in pairs have been teaching the rest of the class how to use new materials. This week Nancy Montes and Umme Monte presented a lesson on collage. They included such vocabulary as overlapping, composition, photomontage and talked about the history of collage from early Chinese paper collages to collage in Japan to European Modernism. The class made collages using magazines and newspaper clippings. The theme was telling a story so students shared their collages and stories at the end.
Nest week the demonstration will involve watercolors. In addition, next week students will start presenting a chosen contemporary artist to the class—no notes—just a ten-minute presentation with images, that includes their reason for choosing that particular artist and how they might incorporate his/ her work into a lesson plan for future students.