Recently, I have created a new artist website…
Check out my portfolios, art discussions, blog, and more! Thanks!
Recently, I have created a new artist website…
Check out my portfolios, art discussions, blog, and more! Thanks!
Oh where to begin!
I’ve been in London, UK for a little short of three weeks now. It has been my first time living outside of the US completely independently! I have been struck by the pressing similarities I’ve found between different places around the world. I remember thinking the same with Italy as well. Throughout my complete amount of traveling, I always expect a complete “culture shock” of the new environment. Still has not happened yet. I feel completely at home here! But beware, LOOK RIGHT BEFORE LEFT!
Goldsmiths University is a fairly relaxed environment. For example, in one weeks time I have one seminar, one lecture, and must check into my studio daily before 15:00. In addition, I will meet with a personal tutor three times a term, have a group tutorial twice, and one large convenor critique to finalize my time here. The system is neither better or worse than MassArt. However, it took me about three week to completely understand what is expected of me. Another aspect of Goldsmiths Fine Arts Department is their use of “workshops”. They offer a variety of assistance in whatever medium you want to work in. For example, if you want to create a piece consisting of metal casting, and do not know how to start, the staff in the metals workshop is always there to make an appointment with you to discuss the idea. From there, you can schedule a time during the week to have a instruction session on how to use the equipment. I feel that this method of acquiring technical skills is very accessible, and provides more exploration in multiple areas of interest.
I must admit to myself how much I do miss MassArt. Even though I enjoy my artistic freedom here at Goldsmiths, I can not help but feel like their expectations are lower than what I’m used to. I enjoy a challenge, and meeting those expectations. But I suppose the challenge here is to continue to push myself just as hard, even when no one is watching.
I just recently received a job as a gallery attendant for the Bakalar and Paine Galleries, and the “Exploring Company Man and Other Abstractions” has been my first exhibition so far. So needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time with Sikander’s work. I have come a long way in understanding the meanings of her work, but oddly enough I still do not understand everything.
I personally feel as though Sikander refers much to globalization in todays societies. Particularly since she travels back and forth between New York and Pakistan. The one constantly occurring theme I notice is the merging, layering, and multi-media. These constant elements of change elude to the idea of nothing every being completely one way, and that there are everlasting impurities in any culture. This can happen due to influences we as people have always had on each other. The situation has changed drastically compared to history, due to the greater availability to travel, understand, and engage with other parts of the world. Everything is, now more than ever, resulting in the questions that Sikander focuses on in her artwork.
As for the specific exhibit, I enjoyed it very much. There was nothing (other than the inconvenient labeling) that had stricken me in a negative way. I remember other classmates mentioning they were annoyed by the multiple sounds happening at once. But for me, I enjoyed the soundtrack the most out of the entire show. This had given me more evidence towards the concept that many cultures and traditions overlap each other. I feel more strongly towards her sound choices than I do her paintings. A second use of cross-cultural reference is her switch from traditional miniature painting to more new media video and sound projects.
I think that Sikander’s artistic choices are amazing, complex, and extremely thoughtful. Influences of cultures from one to another leave room for debate on traditions and purifies. I have a feeling that this question will only get more and more relevant as time continues in contemporary practices.
About twice a month, I volunteer at the MFA for opening events, vacation weeks, family days, and any other event where they need an extra pair of hands. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the new Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art opening weekend! My sole job was to manage an activity station where children (or child-like adults) could create their own contemporary sketchbooks. The task was not particularly inclusive for us because most of the work was done independently. So in our down time we had the opportunity to walk in the gallery, view the ongoing performances, and somewhat participate in the opening as a visitor and volunteer.
I was excited to see the MFA dedicate a specific, permanent space for contemporary art collections. It makes me feel as though living artists have just as much room for success and importance as the older, historical artworks in the museum.
For my comparison and contrasting, I would like to use three performances that I was able to witness first hand in attending the opening weekend. As I’m sure you know, there were many events from yoga to DJ. It was the most “alive” art museum that day. The Boston Typewriter Orchestra and Mary Ellen Strom’s recreation of “Sloss, Kerr, Rosenberg & Moore” 1986-2011 both brought a playful and funny element to the day. While Amanda Coogan performed “The Passing” 2011, which had an extremely mundane and trance-like quality. All three performances had been performed in the same space directly outside of the Linde Wing.
The Boston Typewriter Orchestra was by far my favorite. I felt this way because the humor was so openly displayed through the members businesslike dress, and their robotic movements. Yet in contrast to that, the beats they created, through the sounds of the typewriter, were playful and fun! You couldn’t help but skip along.
Mary Ellen Strom (a professor at the SMFA) had recreated a performance done by four, males who were lawyers. Originally created in the 1980′s by Ann Carlson, this was supposed to be more underground humorist portrait of the defaults and aspects of these men. There is a video on display in the new media/video, Gallery 258. Fortunately, I got to see the performance live. From the staircase, I remember seeing a large crowd surrounding the group. I watched from above, and remembered one small, grey haired woman with glasses, laughing hysterically up front. When I went to the MFA website for more information on the performance, I saw a video with Mary Ellen Strom. She was the same woman I remembered that day.
Finally, in contrast to the two light-hearted performances, there was Amanda Coogan. “The Passing” was her 24-hour performance. She walked up and down the staircase and hallways of the MFA for, yes, an entire 24-hours. A few bathroom and food breaks were given, from what I heard. Her red dress was worn to symbolize how bold the actions of an every-day act can be. Unlike from what I initially imagined, Coogan was moving in a slow-motion rhythm, and kept her eyes fixed in front of her or her own artifacts. One beautiful movement during the day was when a little baby, girl of about 3 came up to her. Coogan, still moving slowly, made eye contact with her and was smiling. When the usual response was for her to continue focusing strait, not stopping to look at anything. The 3 year old was playing with the long, shear dress and giving hugs to Coogan, which were received by her as well. It made everyone stop and remember that she was not just a performer, but an actual person training herself to perform those actions. It was the highlight of my day.
All three performances, I will probably never get to witness first hand and all together again. For me, they defined contemporary art that day. Each performance brought some new, exciting aspect for both the entire audience and me personally.
Improvisation as a new media art form:
As human beings, we carry with us precious instruments for expression – the body and the voice. Exploring perception – looking and listening – as a tool for making instantaneous performance choices. Working through a series of improvisational techniques and concepts.
Improvisation works individually, in duets, and in groups to explore gesture, space, time, energy, intention and the voice. Experimenting with the voice by “sounding” as well as by speaking. Also consider objects and environments in relation to performance. This media encourages to make direct relations between principal fields of artistic interest and time-based, improvisational performance. There are various forms that improvisation has taken in twentieth century live art (Revised from Mass College of Art “On the Spot” course description. Taught by Dawn Kramer).
Popular known improve TV show “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” ft. Drew Carey.
This new media art form can be related to teaching as well. I believe that as teachers, we are performers.
We must always be on our toes ready for what ever the classroom will throw at us. Questions, explanations, preparations, and situationally needed adjustments to the curriculum or lesson plans. It is our job to meet the individual needs of each student, and we can learn how to do that by improvising. And remember that each student you receive will be different.
While even though we create lesson plans and curriculums it is impossible to follow them exactly. Whether you are dealing with a Problem to Solve, or an experience with the Lowenfeild model, these guided frameworks are mostly used for the teachers organization of thoughts. Not directions.
Different kinds of teaching settings will also effect the way in which you teach. For example, working at the Burke High School every day of the week verses at the Museum of Fine Arts during vacation week.
Unrehearsed speaking (whether public or conversational) is a great example of how improvisation connects to the every day. An example of how I connected to this personally was at MassArt during the Family Day activities fair. We had no way of calculating who would attend that day. The ages varied from pre-school to adults. Our activity stations we designed were run, taught, and guided by my Saturday Studios Pre-practicum I class.
A significant challenge that day, noted by many of my peers, was the ability to explain an exercise to a very young child one minute and an adult the next. It is obvious the vocabulary, manner and tone of which you speak varies on age group. Improvisation allowed for an easier transition between conversations.
Family Day was a great learning experience for me. I had learned to adapt to the needs of the visitors. I had learned to communicate an educational activity in a gallery setting. And most importantly for me, I had been able to be a part of an extremely rewarding interaction with children, their parents and artwork. A lot of what we had learned and read about in class was useful for Family Day. The diversity in the visitors learning, how to support learning, and all the different categories within the teaching experience.
Family Day was a day at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in the Sanda & David Bakalar Gallery. It was housing two shows “Astatic” and “Inside the Painters Studio”. During this day visitors were invited to share the exploration of art with their children. Four stations were designed by my art education class at MassArt. It was our job to create fun and fundamental stations that correlated with the shows in the gallery. The overall participation of the visitors and staff was very enthusiastic.
Astatic Packet Attached is the official packet from the downstairs gallery that my activity was stationed.
Our “Transformation Station” that Robert and I had developed had been given much thought and consideration to people of different capabilities. Howard Gardener’s Multiple Intelligence’s gave us information on how to prepare. The following groups are categories in which different people learn and understand. Linguistic, logical/mathematical, music, body/kinesthetic, spacial, interpersonal, and naturalist (see “Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain: Cue Words” handout). Robert and I used these ways of learning and tried to create as many accommodations to those groups in our activity. Examples are using a ‘word board’ with verbs and adjectives for those linguistic learners who connect with words. For spacial learners we organized our stations materials and work area in a functional way. There was an option of the exercise that advised them to move and play with the shapes on paper for body/kinesthetic learners.
Although, when the day arrived we found ourselves making changes to adapt to the diverse circumstances.
Even with many options of the activity that supported different strengths instruction was needed from us the instructors. I found it very helpful referring to “John Crowe’s Toe: Theory of Everything Pedagogical”. His theory is everything I think a theory should be. It is very condensed and simplified down to understand, but still relies on the detail information to understand. The three main bullet points are “I do it; you do it”, “I challenge; you wrestle”, and “you choose; I support” (see Crowe’s TOE pink handout). I found myself using that in many different circumstances during family day depending on the child. A lot of younger visitors benefited from the “I do it; you do it” model. While for older children I challenged them and allowed for them to work out the problems. It was nice to use the “you choose; I support” model for parents completing the activity because most did not want a lot of instruction from us.
Lastly, the different teaching categories from the “Eight Studio Habits of Mind” handout gave me a better understanding of the interaction between teacher and student. Or in Family Day’s case between instructor and visitor. I used the eight studio habits to group different ways to learn with studio habits.
Develop Craft= Technical
Engage and Persist= Self Exploration
Envision= Self Exploration
Express= Self Exploration
Stretch and Explore= Self Exploration
Understand Art World= Information/Research
In class we had created lists of expectations from both parties (the teacher and student). Doing all this really made me feel like I knew what type of instruction I was giving during Family Day in diverse situations. Now I feel like if you subconsciously know what category of learning your student is experiencing, it makes your teaching more effective.
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston held it’s semi-annual Vacation Week this February. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer for that event. Going into it I was unsure of what I would be doing or what was exactly expected, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I had gotten to experience.
An overview of what Vacation Week at the MFA is a week long event that offers a variety of activities for children and their parents who visit the museum. The dates are chosen based off the Boston Public School Department and when K-12 students have week long vacations. The second Vacation Week this year will continue in April. There were four stations that correlated with one major theme of the new Art of the Americas wing. The four activities were very well organized and were named “Build it”, “Sculpt it”, “Paint it”, and “Frame it”. A wide variety of families attended pretty consistently Monday through Friday.
“Build it” was an activity that focused on children creating their own mini-museum. I had worked in this station for the majority of the week and had learned how much children enjoyed it. There was something about making a space that was theirs that made their faces light up. Every decision was the children’s’ to make. Many materials were provided at their disposal such as fabrics, magazines, 3D objects, and a variety of beautiful papers. The MFA had many materials in being a large establishment.
“Sculpt it” was another 3D activity that was in the new Art of the Americas wing gallery. I had personally not been able to run this station, but did get to visit and hear feedback from the other volunteers I was working with. Here the visitors were given the materials to promote creativity in sculpture. The materials used were pipe-cleaners, colorful wires, beads and other accessories.
“Paint it” was another activity like “Sculpt it” that promoted independent creativity, but this time in the 2D arts. No actual paints were used for the protection of the artwork in the galleries. Instead tissue papers were used in a layering process to create a picture. I personally liked this idea better than using paints and brushes because it allowed even very young participants to create something of their own.
“Frame it” was a station the I had worked at for one full day and I was very impressed by the thoughtfulness of the activity. To give a brief explanation, there were several cards with an outline of one of the paintings in the gallery. It was the visitors job to find this painting on the wall and use colored pencils to color it however they chose. Then gold and silver foil paper was offered to frame them. Children often framed their artworks from the “Paint it” activity. Parents really enjoyed this activity as well. And often times later in the day/week the framed artwork that they made would end up in their own mini-museum from the “Build it” station.
I really appreciated how interrelated the activities were. It was obvious that they were done this way on purpose. Most of the decisions like were to place the activities in the museum and how to peruse them were organized by the MFA’s Education Department.
I was able to take home two of my examples that I had made while I was there. The two being my mini-museum and my framed activity.
On March 1st I had visited the “After Hours” Boston Public Schools 14th Annual Visual Arts Exhibition located in the Sandra and Philip Gordon Gallery at Boston Arts Academy. It is located right behind the Fenway Ball Park, which is only about five minutes away from my apartment. So needless to say it was very nice to casually drop by for the opening reception.
I had heard news of this event by one of my teachers for Seminar I. Earlier that same day our class had taken a trip to Jeremiah Burke High School. There we visited an art classroom of Alisa Rodny, a MassArt alumni and helped students during the day. The picture above is one of Rodny’s pieces that had been in the exhibition later that evening.
The entire gallery that night was focused around Boston public school art teachers. All of the artwork displayed was at of teachers in the area. “After Hours” had a very relaxed atmosphere when you walked in. The space was one room and relatively small. There were two younger people in the far corner singing and playing guitar. I loved both listening and watching them improvise each song. Around the room on the walls were the hung 2D artworks and a few 3D pieces were displayed in the center.
This particular gallery interested me because I always wonder to myself what art teachers actually do in art. For example, I practice and make art on a regular basis and therefore will consider myself just as much an artist as I would a teacher. But I have known a few teachers in the field who never even touch a paintbrush anymore. Others I know rent out their own studio spaces to do their artwork. So the evaluation on what kind of artists art teachers are is a tricky thing to generalize.
Then of course you can always get into the discussion of if all art teachers should be practicing artists. Personally I feel like it certainly does not hurt to be an artist and a teacher of art, but in contradiction to most, I don’t feel it is absolutely necessary. There are many good teachers in the world who have the knowledge and appreciation for art, but unfortunately are too busy or unskilled in the physical practice. Art teachers who are artists can personally relate more to studio practices. But on the contrary to that a bias opinion can develop because of their own artistry.
My most favorite thing about the show was seeing the artwork done by Alisa Rodny. The great thing about that was I was actually in her classroom that day helping with her class. I got to see both her teaching and art practices. Which turns out they relate a lot more than I thought. For example, there was a few print making test examples she had made of these characterized animals (like the chicken with four legs and the elephant). When I got to the gallery, I had found those same images on the collaged piece. I had in fact saw Alisa there and mentioned that I noticed. The conversation following that was very interesting as well.
The Visual Arts Exhibition at the Boston Arts Academy was a very positive experience. I might keep an eye open for possible art submissions of my own for that gallery!
Additional photos of exhibition artworks.
This Tuesday (Feb. 15) our Seminar I class took a day trip to both the Museum of Fine Arts and Artists for Humanity. The day consisted of a program explanation from two staff members of the MFA. Then later a tour of the Artists for Humanity in south Boston.
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS BOSTON
The Museum of Fine Arts education program was a surprisingly larger than what I initially thought. For some reason I never thought much about what a museum could do outside of curating exhibits and displaying artworks. The MFA currently has five different departments.
Gallery Learning; School Programs/Teacher Resources; Studio/Community Arts; Interpretation; Planning/Evaluation
Each of these departments focuses on different aspects of education. They offer after-school programs, and community organizations. Along with in gallery activities. I was pleasantly surprised about how developed an education department the MFA had.
They only problem I had was how surprised I was. The only reason I was surprised was due to the fact that I had never heard about these opportunities before. What does that say to their marketing strategies. Those programs could be more available for people who may not know enough about the museums themselves.
ARTISTS FOR HUMANITY
Later in the afternoon we traveled to AFH where they gave us a tour of the relatively new building. I was truly inspired by the establishment and its objectives. They hire middle through high school students to create personal and commissioned artworks after school. The students get an incredible experience to developed their skills and professionalism in the arts. I have video from this event but will upload them in a later post.
Different departments include the following.
The actual departments were small, but what they are able to accomplish is incredible. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and in visiting. I think it is a great opportunity for those students.
In comparing the two it is almost impossible to compare the two in access and comfortably. One is a public establishment carrying some of the worlds most greatest treasures. While the other is an after school job for young students to learn and express creativity. The difference I feel is that it is obvious a the Museum of Fine Arts is less comfortable. The limits and liabilities are much greater. And in good reason. Artists for Humanity is an extremely open environment for those who are fortunate enough to participate in it. The AFH is not open to the public necessarily like the MFA. Therefore I feel like access the MFA has more, but the AFH is a more comfortable art teaching/learning environment.