Sometimes, rather than tying everything together, I like to end lessons by exploding everything. I like to leave students craving more answers, more questions.
– Lisa Libicki, School Visits Educator
Last year, School Visits created the first five in a series of short, enlightening films highlighting the knowledge and experience of some of our educators. They are the stars of these videos, as they share their experience and their passion for teaching with thousands of K–12 students at MoMA each year. Created by filmmaker and MoMA educator Rachel Farmer, each video features one educator: Mark Epstein, Lauren Adelman, Jackie Delamatre, Grace Hwang, or Lisa Libicki.
The other stars of these videos are the works of art themselves. The five works shown are Jasper Johns’s Map, Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #1144, Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, and José Clemente Orozco’s Dive Bomber and Tank. What these videos do, just as our teaching does, is put the focus on close looking and deep engagement with MoMA’s collection. The videos are shot simply and cleanly, highlighting the words of the educators, while enhancing the experience of just looking at the object without distraction. Our teaching approach is inquiry based, student driven, and focused on building skills. We teach through relevant themes and ask students to spend a great deal of time looking at, talking about, and exploring the four to five works of art we show them in a 60–75 minute period.
Educators were asked to respond to questions like, Why are you drawn to this object? What discoveries/conversations are generated from this object that particularly excite you? In the films, the educators discuss the ways in which teaching with works of art can deepen students’ understanding of art in general. For instance, Jackie discusses using Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel to explore questions like, “How do you define art? What makes something a good fit for MoMA’s collection? How can one art object change the course of art history?” Such questions highlight how thought-provoking conversations with students can get and the many angles from which they can look at a work of art.
As Lisa Libicki’s quote above shows, MoMA’s School Visits Educators are experts in using works of art to build lifelong critical-thinking skills. Through one lesson, or even through one work of art, students practice investigating, debating, and asking questions while deepening their understanding of art and making relevant connections. Each of these films show the educator’s unique and evolving perspectives on MoMA’s collection, the result of multiple teaching experiences and the time they’ve spent with each of these works. It’s a lesson for all of us to spend more time looking and building a relationship with a work of art that can last a lifetime!