Art21: Using Contemporary Art Resources in Your Classroom
I was once asked by a professor on the first day of design 101,
“If you make art and no ones sees it, is it art?”
To a freshman art major, this tore up my mind. To myself, I thought, if I make something, follow the rules of the trade (or break), use artistic media, ect, then it has to be art. Right? However, if no one sees it, how do I know that it is “art”? See the dilemma? I have taken that moment into my double life as a teacher and artist and expanded the issue. What is this relationship between seeing and art? What does it mean to be an artist? What does it mean to see?
Contemporary art can easily be left out of K-12 art curriculum planing, especially at the Elementary Level, but it shouldn’t be! Over the years Art 21 has has become one of the most trusted resources for educators in the contemporary art world. Personally, I use the Art21 series and online resources frequently in my secondary classroom. If you have not heard of the series, Art21 began in 1997 as a non-profit organization. With a mission to elevate contemporary art, the programming continues to: highlight the art of working artists , activate critical discussions on the arts, create an educational space and engage the public with events.
For a teacher in the arts, Art21 is one stop shopping and what’s even more amazing… the online resources are FREE. Under the education tab, you will find highly organized lesson plans, guides to teaching, libraries, glossary, blog, professional development and a student gallery. They even link the materials to the National Standards for you!
Overall, from my personal experiences with Art21, I found three, main strengths in their programming and online resources.
√ Quality: The artist are prominent in their fields & the materials are thoughtfully organized with the teacher/student in mind.
√ Timeless: The themes cross the barriers of cultures, ages and time.
√ Useful: Exposure to art and the speaking, living artist is yet another component to understanding the art of seeing.
The Next time you’re looking for a contemporary resource for artists, quality videos and relevant lesson plans, I highly recommend the PBS site: Art21
“The question is not what you look at, but what you see”
-Henry David Thoreau
What experiences do you have using Art 21 in the classroom?
Why do you think Contemporary Art seems so unreachable to many art teachers?