We first worked with Mary Mattingly in the summer of 2013, when she collaborated with us as one of the teaching artists for the Museum’s first ever 3-D printing course for teens, a program that was set up through our involvement with Eyebeam. When she approached us last fall with an idea for a new teen course, I was immediately intrigued Read more
CATEGORY: EVENTS & PROGRAMS
If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you’ll know that MoMA has been experimenting with “pop-ups”—drop-in learning and art-making spaces—in closer proximity to the galleries for the past couple of years. These impromptu spaces are something that the Department of Education has long advocated for because offering hands-on activities helps visitors make connections to the art on view. Read more
Creating spaces for free, hands-on art experiences is a cornerstone of the educational and artistic philosophies guiding our work within Teen and Community Partnerships here at MoMA. For far too many young people living in NYC, the idea of pursuing (or even exploring) a career in the arts can seem frivolous, intimidating, and, ultimately, unattainable. Add the high cost of undergraduate and graduate education to these gaps in basic accessibility and the difficulties young artists face are compounded exponentially. With these ideas in mind, this season saw MoMA Teens working with the staff and community of artists from Bruce High Quality Foundation University, or “New York’s freest art school,” as they aptly describe themselves. Set up as an introductory “art school for people who hate school,” the 10-week program they developed has taken the participating teens through the strange, scary, and oftentimes outlandish world of a college-level fine arts degree, as seen through the wonderfully distorted BHQFU lens. Below Andrea and Sean, our two BHQFU collaborators, share their experiences here so far.
—Calder Zwicky, Assistant Director for Teen and Community Partnerships, MoMA
For the past season, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University has had the pleasure of working with 25 incredibly sharp teenagers from across the five boroughs of New York City. In a world that has robbed many of them and their peers of a stable, prosperous future, we’re learning together about the social and political power of art.
And they’re all about it.
Each week, we invited a Bruce family member to lead a guest workshop outlining their studio working methods, political motivations, and cultural influences. This resulted in a crash course of sorts, a hyper-accelerated BFA experience that not only showed how art is made, but why art is made and for whom. The best part has been, our students got to experience all of this for free, thanks to this incredible program, MoMA’s In the Making teen art courses. At the end of each class, participants earned a merit badge celebrating the techniques and concepts they’d learned to add to their BHQFU camo vests. We’re earning them, too, and we’ll all have pretty killer art education maps on our backs at the exhibition opening on April 15.
We learned about Institutional Critique + Critical Pedagogy through a brief history of the Bruce High Quality Foundation and BHQFU that culminated in a group “sculpture tackle” of Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE work located a few blocks from MoMA. Rapper and visual artist James Allister Sprang (AKA GAZR), himself an alumnus of the MoMA Teens Apprentice Educator program, showed us the connection between Performance Art + Pop Art, challenging us to incorporate personal narrative and critiques of popular culture into our art. Queens-based sculptor Anne Wu encouraged us to see the human touch evident everywhere in the urban environment of New York, and how to translate sketches of the world around us into three-dimensional sculptural objects. Eamon Monaghan shared the secrets of his DIY Video + Set Design process as we learned how to construct miniature film sets and how to splice ourselves into them using the green-screen method. Continuing that DIY theme, the artist collective Packet Biweekly discussed the political value of Artist Books + Self-Publishing, working with us to knock out a brand new collaborative artist book in a single class session. We deconstructed, figuratively and literally, imagery from mass media, reconfiguring those images to reflect our individual perspectives through a Collage + Media Literacy workshop with artist Ariel Jackson. And we tapped into the other side with Orlando Estrada, whose Psychic Intuition + Alchemy class taught us relief mold sculpture techniques hinged on improvisation and drawing exercises encouraging us to find a sixth sense.
Consistently, our students have expressed their discontent with the way things are in the world—justifiably so! It’s easy to get jaded, right? But the thing is: none of them are jaded. They’re fired up and they’re making plans. Collectively and individually, they’re beyond driven. They are demanding an alternative future. BHQFU is equally fired up as we see in action the inarguable value of accessible art education. Our students are unafraid of speaking truth to power, of dismantling structures designed to marginalize them. Each of them is in possession of a truly unique voice and perspective, and they’ve learned the skills to amplify that voice through creating art.
Join us on April 15 for the opening of the In the Making: Spring 2016 Teen Art Show. We’re so fortunate to have met the next generation of merry pranksters and political dissidents. We can’t wait to show you what each of them can do.
Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective bursts at the seams with text in all forms. Given Marcel Broodthaers’s interest in language, it’s fitting that MoMA’s second-floor bookstore is where, every Tuesday for the next four weeks, visitors have the opportunity to explore the artist’s work in a workshop led by Elizabeth Zuba, a poet and translator of the artist’s work, and Diane Bertolo, an artist and Broodthaers enthusiast. Read more
The Education Department is passionate about engaging visitors with art and ideas, bringing people together and creating experiences in which the visitor becomes an active participant. Most recently, there has been an initiative to bring more participatory, hands-on, and creative experiences outside of classroom walls and closer to art in the galleries. For example, from May to September 2015, 16 “pop-up” art-making sessions took place right outside the exhibition Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup Cans and Other Works: 1953–1967. Each of the afternoon sessions was two hours long and open to anyone who wanted to take part. Read more
What would music made from a conversation between a robot and a drawing sound like? How can you improve someone’s day using only creativity and an old toothbrush? Can discarded electronics be repurposed to make a responsive video project about endangered species? Read more
The first day of class is always the worst. This summer’s In the Making program was no different. At nearly 10:00 a.m. on a sunny Tuesday morning in July, our new group of teens shuffled into the Museum silently, diverting all eye contact and slouching in their seats as if it made them invisible. But I knew them more than they realized. I’d carefully read each of their applications and typed their first and last names onto the official MoMA Teens ID cards they would receive as a first day rite of passage. Beneath their apprehensive facades, I knew they had shown up longing for a creative experience unlike any they had participated in thus far.
Before beginning my role assisting with all of the different aspects of MoMA’s teen programming two years ago, I taught traditional oil painting and figure drawing workshops at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. There, I witnessed the ways learning technical skills can empower students through providing the tools and confidence to visually represent the world around them. In MoMA’s In the Making programs, I’m seeing how a menu of experimental and nontraditional courses empowers students in exciting and different ways. In the spirit of the modernist artists in MoMA’s collection, our teen programs challenge and deconstruct the academic and traditional values that many NYC youth (and people of all ages) still firmly cling to when analyzing artistic quality and intent. We shake up their world, and the shy adolescents from the first day emerge totally unrecognizable after six short, intense weeks in the Museum.
This summer’s course offerings included You Think This Is a Game?!, which tackled sculpture through the lens of physicality, competition, and the antihero; Jaimie Warren’s House of Horror, which made comically gory GIFs re-creating horror clips and an elaborate cardboard kitchen installation exploring DIY techniques and the boundaries of good taste; The Surreal World, in which students delved into the subconscious through automatic drawing, assemblage, dream journaling, and the absurd; and CLICK@MoMA: Sight + Sound Lab, which involved creating audio and video mash-ups and album covers, many influenced by the visual culture of 1990s hip-hop and political events of our time.
Some might question the value of “scribbling” all over the walls or making crude sculptures with cardboard and tape. “How does that sharpen their artistic skills?” they might ask, or, “How does that experience prepare them for the real world? Why should they spend their summer in a studio when they could be prepping for the SATs?”
Personally, I also became seriously involved in art as a teenager. Growing up in suburban Atlanta, I always did well in class but often felt like I was just going through the motions. Art class was the one place where things weren’t simply wrong or right. This created an exciting challenge that led me to new and less narrow modes of thinking. In art class, I was fortunate to find a community that introduced me to the beauty of subjectivity, expression, and interpretation. It was an eye-opening, liberating moment in my development, and facilitating similar experiences for our young participants is a constant aim of mine.
Many of the teens I encounter are so accustomed to measuring themselves against their peers in one way or another, and it can be difficult to move beyond the binaries of good/bad or skilled/unskilled that are already rooted in their minds. I can relate, as it can be easy for me to slip back into this prosaic mode of thinking if I don’t actively keep it in check. Something I frequently find myself telling students (and myself) is, “Don’t compare yourself to others.” As basic and obvious as this statement sounds, I’m discovering it’s one of the most effective and empowering.In the Making aims to nurture very different kinds of skills than AP Art History or some academic figure drawing course might provide. Not because one type of skill is better than the other, but because they are equally valid. Our students don’t receive a certificate or school credit for their time with us, but they continue to come to the studio day after day to make cool stuff. Our classes may appear messy, chaotic, and strange, but this is exactly what creates an open-ended and playful space, nurturing new and overlooked skills such as radical thinking, idea execution, collaboration, and more. I feel our efforts to distance the program from the realms of grades, status, and measurability is the key to creating the transformative experiences and tight-knit communities I’ve seen emerge season after season. This open-endedness is one of the true gifts of the program, especially considering NYC is a city where students begin standardized testing in early elementary school. Freedom to experiment is not simply a perk of In the Making, but its lifeblood.
And just as the first day of class is the worst, the last week of classes is almost always the best, as the profound shift that took place over the past 18 sessions of studio time becomes intensely palpable. On the final day of class this summer, teen artists confidently occupied MoMA’s studio spaces, grabbing supplies and claiming whatever corner of the room they needed to frantically hammer the last nails into their sculptures or make the final edits on their video mash-ups. Playlists boomed out of the speakers, surrounding the buzzing chitchat of a focused and lively group. Some were having an intense critique in the mezzanine, while others decided to trash a piece they’d worked on for hours because they just weren’t feeling it anymore. When class time was up, no one wanted to leave.At our Teen Art Show opening two days later, one of our exceptionally thoughtful In the Making and Cross-Museum Collective alumni, Priya, gave us a handwritten thank-you note. Part of it read:
Before I left for school, I just wanted to let you guys know how thankful I am for the MoMA Teens education program. I truly do mean it when I say that being a MoMA Teen has changed my life. I don’t know if I’d even be studying art in college if it wasn’t for the confidence that MoMA Teen programming has given me…. Since my In the Making class last summer, I found my passion for art, discovered the teen art community in NYC & all the events available to me, learned more that I could ever imagine about the MoMA (aka my favorite museum in the universe), made friends who share the same passion as me & gained the confidence to pursue a career in the art field.
Beyond being rewarding and heartwarming to read, Priya’s note sums up the experience we hope to create for all of our participants. It is not our goal to have every student we work with go on to study art in college. But instilling confidence, rethinking possibilities, nurturing skills to execute ideas, and building communities will enrich any young person’s life, regardless of the path they pursue.
Extra special thanks to Calder Zwicky, Ali Santana, Zephyr Doles, Jaimie Warren, Sofia Dixon, Keith Mendak, Ray Ferreira, Leah Wolff, Esteban Jefferson, Guy Ben-Ari, Matt Roche, Adam Tetzloff, Chris Annibell, and OP Miller.
I have found that artists are not often invited to share their teaching methods with the public, which is mysterious since many contemporary artists not only work in education, but also consider it part of their artistic practice. What is interesting to me is that, when it comes to art and education, the discussion is not about whether it’s art but what happens when education is the work itself. Read more
Jaimie Warren is the creative force behind some of today’s most playful, beautiful, and viscerally beguiling video, performance, and photography projects. When Adam Parker Smith and I reached out to her last year to come in as a guest artist for our I Am a God: Artists, Obsession & the Cult of Celebrity Culture course, we immediately saw that she was the perfect collaborator and mentor for our community of young artists. Read more
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