In advance of The Making of Mail Art, an artist-led MoMA Class taking place on February 21, the instructors—Zanna Gilbert, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Drawings and Prints, and David Horvitz, an artist—answered a few questions about their personal experiences with mail art, the unique elements of this art form, and the collection of mail art that Horvitz has sent to Gilbert at MoMA over the past two years.
Over the last month and a half, MoMA Studio: Beyond the Cut-Out has been animated by a constant flow of creative visitors working on the various activities offered in the space, which range from stamping to collaging to bookmaking. One of the most rewarding aspects of the Studio is the way that each visitor’s approach to the art-making prompts reveals an inventive interpretation and a personal take on the Studio’s themes, Read more
Reading Stephanie Rosenbloom’s article, “The Art of Slowing Down in a Museum,” recently published in The New York Times, has reminded me of the importance of “deep looking” in the museum and ways to enhance visitor experience at MoMA. As a museum educator, I spend a lot of time thinking about the visitor and how to help improve their interactions with art. Like Italy’s slow food movement, it’s about improving quality and savoring the moment. Read more
On Saturday, November 22, MoMA presents the one-day studio course Creative Appropriation with Artist Michael Mandiberg. Below, the artist discusses his work and some of the issues around appropriation. Read more
There has been a lot of excitement around the opening of the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. The Museum has been teeming with energetic visitors who see it and walk away feeling buoyed and inspired. We anticipated that this would be a common response to the exhibition, so over the past few months, in dialogue with the exhibition curators—Karl Buchberg, Jodi Hauptman, and Samantha Friedman—we have been designing educational programming that can complement a visitor’s experience in the galleries and provide an outlet for the creative energy that Matisse’s cut-outs generate. Read more
How do artists seek, find, or create inspiration?
As an artist/educator, I often find myself gathering inspiration for my own work from my experiences teaching in the galleries. Recently I have been thinking a lot about the nature of collaboration, and looking back to art historical examples to inform my own thinking.
Thinking back, I realized that the exhibition Dada at MoMA in 2006 was one of the first times this idea clicked for me. I remember being intrigued by how many of the exercises these artists were playing with over 100 years ago are still so relevant to the kind of teaching experiences I develop today. And after putting those techniques to use in my classes, I was also struck by how inspired I was as an adult to replicate and try out some of those same devices that had brought artists like Jean Arp, Man Ray, and Duchamp such a wealth of creative potential. I was impressed by how human these games made these distant “Artist” figures seem; by humanizing them their work became easier to understand and allowed me to layer some of their creative thinking and processes onto my own.
In my own work, I find it most inspiring to create constraints—mostly with materials, some self-imposed, some borne out of necessity —and work within them. How can I use what I have at hand, or can find for cheap, to realize a vision? Or when I find myself without vision, sometimes just playing with materials and making something– anything– in the studio can generate an exciting idea that then grows into larger concept and artwork later on.
When I was asked to come up with a Studio Immersion course for MoMA, I knew I wanted to explore these ideas with other adults, and experiment with how these forced collaborations, set criteria, and new materials might create an interesting dynamic within the class and inspire participants to expand their own practice outside the classroom. For one example, I love the Niki de Saint Phalle piece that was recently on view, Shooting Painting American Embassy (1961)—which the artist created by arranging packets of paint and food on a canvas, covering them with layers of plaster, and then asking collaborators to shoot at the canvas and release the paint—and that work prompted me to research other forms of playful, performative processes artists before and after her have employed.
The Dadaists and Surrealists fit in exactly with this theme of playful processes. Of course I knew about exquisite corpse drawings and automatic poetry, but, as I researched more, I was pleasantly surprised by the range of materials and techniques they implemented. Paint-based techniques were also used, such as Bulletism—a technique where ink is shot at a blank piece of paper and the artist then develops images based on the marks left behind. I can’t wait to get some willing experimenters involved with this!
This is just one example of many historical processes I’ve dug up for this course, and a few that I’ve created for us to play around with. So for those of you who might be thinking, “I’m not an artist,” or “I can’t draw,” or any other number of doubting thoughts, Mind Games will give you the chance to think like a Surrealist and let your subconscious be your guide. Break some rules and come draw outside the lines with me!
Class starts October 22. For more information, please visit MoMA.org/courses.
This summer’s In the Making program brought an incredibly diverse group of over 85 NYC teens into contact with a range of artists and arts organizations, for a series of six-week intensive art programs. Perhaps our most ambitious project ever, this summer’s collaboration with Babycastles, a non-profit video game-based gallery and arts collective, saw 23 teens working together on the creation of a fully-functional arcade, mural, and sculptural art installation. Read more
Even after years of creating weird and off-kilter art courses for teens, one of the darkest and strangest teen art courses we’ve ever offered might very well be last season’s Under the Spell of Mysterious Forces: Magic, Illusion, and Performance Based Art. Taking the young participants deep into a realm where magic, trance, and extrasensory perception mingle with performance art, the course attracted a range of curious open-minded teens, all wiling to take the plunge into the artistic unknown. Read more
This past May and June, MoMA’s Education and Research Building mezzanine was the site of MoMA Studio: Breathe with Me, an interactive space that explored the intersections between art, therapeutic practice, and the ways in which we relate to objects and people through physical encounters. Read more
If you happen to visit the exhibition Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010 on Tuesday afternoons you will notice something different: the sight of Museum visitors making art inspired by Sigmar Polke’s processes, in close proximity to his works of art. This shift toward more hands-on learning experiences is not something that happened overnight. Read more