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Re: [teacherartexchange] WSJ Article


From: Rebecca Burch (mamallama_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Jul 01 2010 - 13:00:12 PDT


But the intention of this student was not to create something in order
to destroy it, so that wouldn't be conceptual art. And a conceptual
artist doesn't go into a project with the intention of making
something, make a mistake, and then destroy it. I think conceptual
art is something much more. Sometimes there is a work of art created,
and sometimes not, but often the action is the art, more than the
finished product, itself. The intent of the artist is the thing...
along with the reaction of those who are experiencing the act. A
painter intends to create a painting. A conceptual artist intends to
create an experience.

For instance, one of my friends is a conceptual artist. She recently
finished a long project entitled "necking," in which she and a few
other artists took turns knitting a huge scarf. They would sit
downtown in various locations with a long piece of yarn connecting
them (sometimes around a corner) and knit these pieces that would be
combined together.. The end result was a gargantuan knitted scarf,
several city blocks long, which was then taken back apart in the same
manner as part of the performance. So, there was no art produced, in
the end, but the experience was interesting, and it brought attention
to the beauty of the shared relationship between the knitters and the
act of working cooperatively to accomplish a goal.

In protest of a recent explosion near a MIC (same chemical responsible
for the Bhopal, India explosion in the '80's) containment unit, she
painted traffic cones black and put them around the city with the
letters "MIC" and skulls and crossbones on them. The cones were
painted black instead of left bright orange to represent the dangers
that are hidden from us by corporations who don't want us to know
about them. People in our city did not even know of the MIC (and the
lack of safety surrounding its storage) until the explosion that
almost released enough of it to kill us all. Her black safety cones
made a lot of people wonder what they represented, and in turn, the
media attention surrounding them taught people about the dangers of
MIC and how to get involved in groups working to get it moved away
from our city. In the end, the cones were used for other things, so
no art was produced. Most likely, people wouldn't call black traffic
cones art, anyway. But the experience of seeing them all over the
city was her intent, and like Christo's Saffron Gates, they were taken
down at the end of the project.

So would she not be considered an artist? I think she is a fantastic
artist and her art gets people thinking and talking about many social
issues, from our most basic human interactions to huge corporations
with lackadasical safety practices that may result in catastrophe.
And isn't that what all artists wish to do? To make people think, and
to question the world around us? To make us notice things we hadn't
thought of before? I think it takes just as much creativity to do
that conceptually as it does to create a tangible work of art.

What about other temporary or situational art?


On Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 12:12 PM, Barbara Marder <> wrote:
> Wow this topic has really got the wheels rolling.
> Funny about being liberal-I live in one of the most liberal communities in the USA, and my school is about 6 blocks from Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA) and that is SO liberal it is sometimes dubbed "The Peoples Republic" of Cambridge.
> I am liberal minded. I devoted an entire term this past school year with my 6th graders focusing on the art of Nam June Paik.  I even took the entire 6th grade to view a sculptural installation of his work. It was Nam June Paik who had the view that painting was dead, and that was close to 40 years ago. The 6th graders did not agree (interesting they embraced painting as very much alive), but they did love Nam June Paik and the art-making that came out of the unit was a video project. Of course I structured the unit so that the students would be engaged in creating something tangible (the video) and that they would also come away with some enduring understandings.
> Perhaps it was Marcel Duchamp who taunted us to consider what art is when he placed his famous urinal in the gallery show.
> But all this discussion brings me around to considering what the curriculum limits, if any, should be in my urban K-8 public school.
> An 8th grader, who sometimes has a surly attitude across the board, came into my classroom, began a drawing, tore it up, crumbled the remains and dumped it into the trash before I could intervene. Now you have no work to hand in for me, I said. Okay well here it is he said as he retrieved the crumbled mass from the trash.
> In a softer voice I suggested he try again and if he became frustrated, we could discuss what he was drawing before he destroyed it. The work that had been destroyed was not conceptual art-it was a failed attempt (at least in that student's eyes) that might have lead to a real problem with behavior had I continued to make an issue of it.
> In my experience with the age and population of my students, guidelines are needed and wanted and expectations need to identified clearly and concisely.
> Not making art is not an option.
> Expressions about social issues from the art room some how need to involve art. That is where I (sorry for the pun) draw the line.
> Barbara from Boston
> On Jul 1, 2010, at 11:23 AM, Woody Duncan wrote:
>> I am quite liberal - and the definition of being liberal is to be open minded - so I assume I
>> was indoctrinating them in my small way - as opposed to the social studies teacher down
>> the hall who exposed his students to real "news casts" by Pat Robertson so his students
>> would get the correct view of the world.
>> I'm glad that you pointed out that learning skills and techniques is necessary and not
>> separate from what one decides to use those skills for. We need artists who can think
>> as well as produce well crafted objects.
>>                                                               Woody
>> On Jul 1, 2010, at 8:37 AM, Gayle Parent wrote:
>>> Well, first, I think I would have to say that I see no more divisiveness among art teachers than any other teachers, having been both.  I just think we all have a position (or perspective) on all sorts of things, and that's normal and healthy.
>>> Personally, I love what you said Woody, about teaching students to be open-minded and accepting.  Word for word I agree with you.  But I also like Barb's ideas about art and what should be required of the students, and I don't see them as mutually exclusive, unless I have misunderstood Barb.
>>> I'm assuming also that "indoctrinating" the students with your leftist views was humor, based on the belief that everyone should be open-minded and accepting.
>>> Gayle
>> Woody, Retired in Albuquerque
>> Join me as a friend on facebook:
>> Read My 2010 July Blog:
>> Read My 2010 June Blog:
>> 35 Quality Middle School Art Lessons
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Rebecca Burch,
Charleston Catholic High School
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