Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thoughts on higher education

As many of you know, my boyfriend began his first semester at Columbia College this fall. Something he said to me about their department really stuck out to me. He was told by his mentor in the department that the program is designed to make the students hate writing. Why, as educators, would they want to do this? I really can't fathom it. I know that Columbia College has open admissions, and the programs are designed to be hard so that they only keep those students who are really passionate and talented, but teaching students to hate their career path seems a bit harsh. As an educator my goal has always been to encourage students and to fuel passion for the arts, so this just seems so off to me. Thoughts?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Final Project time!!!

I have been in serious work mode for the last week or so on final projects which has been frustrating, tiring, stressful, but a bit exciting as I'm developing my interests and strenghts in Art Ed and possibly thesis work. Most of my projects for the close of the semester are involving alternative experiences in art museums that hit on a variety of different subjects. They are all taking the collection of the art institute and reinterpreting them in different ways in hopes to get nonvisitors and repeat visitors alike thinking, experiencing, and interested in art! I'm really interested in ways to get nonvisitors engaged as I know many people who dismiss art in general as "boring" "stuck up" "stuffy" or "elitist", without even giving it a shot. So I have been thinking about ways to get my friends who think that way about art into an art museum and engaged, interested, and excited about what they are seeing. I'm really excited about using mobile media in museums and creating fun "challenges" like we did in our cyberped group with the teens! The other 2 tours I have been working on involve alcohol and art and religion/experience and art. I'm pretty excited to see how it all turns out, and I'll make sure I post the final results on my portfolio site!

Birthday Gift!

So yesterday was my Birthday, and I got an amazing gift from my Dad... a new Nikon camera! I am super excited to play with it more after finals week! Now that I know how to edit movies I will totally be doing some of that for projects to come! (and I'm guessing my photos and videos will look much better than my iphone quality ones!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Art in the Airport

Seeing as I will be at there tomorrow morning I thought I'd share this! It's a pretty cool idea for Knoxville, and really shows the growing arts movement in East Tennessee. The airport is really tiny with only about 10 gates, so the idea of having an art gallery in this space is pretty interesting and awesome. I love that it totally breaks the generalization that the airport portrayed before with rocking chairs and a fountain with bear statues.
Art in the Airport

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Museums and Religion

I'm working on a final project for Social Theory that deals with the subject of Museums and Religious objects, which has turned into something really exciting and relevant to my future goals in museum exhibition development. I am working on an exhibition that displays works that held/hold religious power in some way (which is a gigantic amount of art in the AIC) and displaying them in a way that speaks to their original intent and how one experiences images spiritually, religiously, or aesthetically. Basically taking the image out of the white wall context and placing it in something closer to how it was meant to be experienced. This is so that I can better understand how one 'experiences' art or images, and create something that would be potentially educational for visitors to experience what the works were originally meant to be or how they were experienced.
 Kind of a loaded idea there, but as I compile more research I'm sure it will get narrowed down. I'm probably going to design something in photoshop for the final product as I can't move around images in the art institute. I would potentally like to take a few works from several religions, perhaps ones that aren't as popular in terms of the traditional museum visit, and rework them so that others can experience culture, religious history, and learn about images and how they pertain to religion/spirituality/experience. I was also thinking about taking a few non-traditional things to discuss the role of art and experience for example the Rothko chapels or talking about tattoos etc. 
I know this probably all sounds a bit broad and undefined, but I'm still working through it a bit. I would love input though on art experiences whether from religious images or not. What allows you to have an experience with art? Is it more or less possible when placed in a museum? Do you think art museums de-spiritualize objects? etc. I'm compiling a bunch of personal perspectives now so that I can create something that would work for a variety of individuals. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Art school in a book?

Even though it is only November I am very excited for the upcoming holiday season, and have been trying to figure out the perfect gifts for everyone on my list. My older sister who is a corporate business woman has been trying her hand at art for the last year or two on the side for a fun hobby. I found this book, and I think it's pretty interesting! It teaches art history, art lessons, includes online lessons, etc. I'm pretty excited about it because I think it looks like she could have a lot of fun learning different techniques and lessons with it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Art and Alcohol

The final project in my Interpretations class is to design an interpretive device, tour, exhibition, etc. So I have decided to devise an interpretive tour that goes throughout the art institute dealing with Art and Alcohol, history, culture, etc. (obviously for adults only) It is super fascinating that the subject stretches throughout the art institute from ancient wine vessels to more contemporary works, so there is a lot to work with. I'm pretty excited about it, and some people in class have expressed interest in actually going on the tour. Even though the object of the final project was to design and layout the work for an imaginary interpretive tour, I may actually use some of the research from the mobile challenge in cyberped and create something for the final project. Should be fun and pretty educational!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Radical Hope

This week in Social Theory we discussed Jonathan Lear's book Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation. It was an extremely compelling theory on devastation and hope. Throughout my time spent reading this book I was reminded of an exhibition I saw at the Knoxville Museum of Art with my senior seminar art history class. These paintings were by David Bates, and they are dealing with Hurricane Katrina and the issues around the disaster. Through all of the devastation and disaster Bates has a way of showing hope for the future. He does this by inserting fleur-de-lis, facial expressions, symbols of christianity, symbols of new orleans, etc.  I think this is such a remarkably hard thing to do when faced with devastation, but it is such an amazingly important step to take after devastation. Hope is hard, and in no way is it making light of situation. Super interesting stuff.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Good Ol' Rocky Top

My hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee oddly enough is red panda central. The Knoxville Zoo has a bunch of these adorable animals, and 101 red pandas have been born there. In June the latest 3 were born, Dolly, Bernadette, and Winston (yes, I am pretty sure they named a panda after Dolly Parton... that is East Tennessee for you!) well anyway, you can watch the babies play on the zoo's panda cam, which is absolutely adorable! So as an animal lover I wanted to share this with everyone =) I mean really, who doesn't want to take some time to watch adorable baby red pandas play?!

Every child is an artist

This is such an adorable idea! You send her a child's drawing, and she makes it into a stuffed toy. It is really such a great idea, I imagine children are quite excited to receive their special creation. This is like Build-a-bear 2.0! The image above is a sloth created by a 5 year old.
Check out her blog

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Numinous Experience

I've been thinking a lot about the "numinous" experience and art. I recently read The Poetry of the Museum: A Holistic Model of Numinous Museum Experiences by Kiersten F. Latham, which is a very complicated text on numinous, aesthetic, holy, awakening, divine experiences. It is grounded in theory and involves a love of Dewey's theories, some of which comes from Art as Experience, which we read in social theory this semester, but goes beyond it. It says "the term numen, best known in the field of religious studies, from Rudolf Otto (1958) who, in his book, The Idea of the Holy describes numen as a religious emotion or experience that can be awakened in the presence of something holy. Literally, it comes from Latin and means, ‘‘a nod or beckoning from the gods.’’ Metaphorically, it refers to a spiritual force or influence identified with a natural object, phenomenon or place"
This got me thinking about having an experience in a museum, and I've been wondering if having a numinous experience is rooted in previous knowledge, education, and understanding of a work of art, an artist, medium, art history, subject matter, or style. I'm curious if it is possible to have a numinous experience with a work of art that you know nothing about. Most numinous experiences I've had with art were rooted in knowledge that I had already acquired, such as seeing a work of art that I really loved from a slide in class in real life at a museum. I think the experience came from my appreciation that was already there and being struck with the real object, something created by an artist I admired. I do believe it is possible to have an aesthetic experience with a work of art you know nothing about, but what about numinous? Also maybe it is easier to have the said experience as a child than as an adult?
I am really curious about this subject. Some say they have had a numinous experience in front of Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's for example, but is this because they know the story, the artist, the work, the religion, etc?
So my question is: Has anyone had a numinous experience that didn't come from prior knowledge? I am very curious about this.

critical responses to art

Last week in Interpretations class we read an article by two museum educators Danielle Rice and Philip Yenawine. Both are very well know in the field, yet have very different ways they teach art. I was very interested in Yenawine's technique to teach through critical response. Critical thinking is something that most schools are not incorporating into their lessons today because testing has taken over as the all-important aspect of public education (this is the conclusion we came to in class with the help of former and current public school teachers taking the class). That being said I think that art education is such a great way to incorporate critical thinking into academics.
Yenawine works with young children and asks them to say what they think about a work of art, what they see, tell a story, what does it mean. He asks questions and allows them to think critically about a work, but never intervenes. This got me thinking, is it responsible for an educator to allow someone to create their own interpretation of the art even if it is completely incorrect? While I think his ideas of critical thinking in education are amazing, I'm really not sure if that is the only way to do it. How can an educator allow a student to believe something completely incorrect about a work and not at least try to point them in the right direction? Coming from an art history background I believe that aspect is super important. While there may be several interpretations of what is going on in a work, wouldn't it be the responsibility of the educator to tell the student basic factual information in some way? or does this completely discourage critical thought if they find out they are wrong? This is really difficult stuff to think through!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Violence: Six Sideways Reflections

Read this book by Slavoj Zizek this week for Social Theory, and it is really interesting. I highly recommend it. The part that I found really interesting was in the second section on fetishist disavowal, the idea that I know an act of violence is happening here but I don't want to know, so therefore I don't know. If you are a bystander on an act of violence and you pretend like nothings wrong are you therefore being violent? I immediately thought of someone buying a shirt from a company that uses child labor and unjust working conditions, if that person knows about this, yet still buys and wears the shirts, are they violent for not intervening? Interesting stuff!

Monday, October 17, 2011

21st century learning

This is a documentary that Carolina from the Tech department at the AIC gave our group. It is a PBS special called Digital Media - New Learners of the 21st Century, and it is really interesting. These educators are doing some really incredible things! The program at the Smithsonian is what we are basically doing with the AIC, but in some different ways.

If you have an hour, watch and get inspired! Digital Media - New Learners of the 21st Century

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mining the AIC?

I just read an article by Lisa G. Corrin about Fred Wilson's Mining the Museum exhibition in Maryland, and I am pretty inspired! He basically took a permanent collection of works and "mined" it creating an exhibition with a social commentary, educating the guests on social issues, and pointing out things that a viewer may not have been aware of before about the art. It told a different history, one of outsiders, a topic that I am extremely interested it. I got to thinking, could we mine the AIC? How could we do that? Maybe Technology could be the answer, some kind of interactive exhibition that tells a different story. Definitely something to keep in mind for my thesis work!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicago History Museum

If you haven't visited the Chicago History Museum yet, I strongly recommend visiting! It was a truly eye-opening experience in terms of education. I kept thinking why can't more art museums be like this? Learning seemed so seamless, and there was something for almost all learners whether it was visuals, video, music or audio recordings, written description, or hands on activities. The atmosphere was so welcoming, the floor was carpeted which absorbed some sound, it felt like a place that you could engage others as well as learn. I went for a class, and we visited only a few exhibitions, so I definitely want to go back and spend more time there.
The one exhibition that we went for mostly was the Out in Chicago exhibition which was amazing. It was informative, educational, interesting, engaging, imaginative, and different than anything I have ever seen. Instead of focusing on a timeline of history it presented issues of gender identity, what constitutes a family or a home, night life, etc. I highly recommend paying a visit to that exhibition to learn a bit more about LGBTQ history in Chicago.
Chicago History Museum
Out in Chicago

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Social theory through experimenting with film

In Social Theory this week we read The Wretched of the Earth by Fanon which was a very interesting book. I TA for a freshman/sophomore level film and video class on Fridays, and last week they went on shoots outside. Their assignment was to randomly take a sentence out of that book and interpret it through a 2 minute film. The sentence was "On the contrary, paradoxically, each member endeavors to praise the achievements of the nation." this is a really great sentence to interpret, especially since the students had never read Fanon, and did not know the context of the sentence. It brings up some interesting issues that I think can relate to the book as well as social theory in general. Many of the students responded negatively to this sentence when it was first read and then some were interested in the on the contrary, paradoxically part. I'm looking forward to seeing how they responded to this through their assignment in 2 weeks when the film is developed!

National Museum of Mexican Art

This sounds like a really cool event for educators! Check it out!
Educator Night- NMMA

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Educator Open House at the Field Museum

Thought I'd share this event that Joy, my Interpretations instructor sent us! Sounds pretty cool and it's free!

it is October 11 at 5-8 pm

Here's the link for more information ---> Free Educator Open House at the Field Museum

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our Museum Interactive

Walking through the Art Institute Josh and I realized that there are hardly any digital interactives in the galleries. So we decided to create one super search through the museum to educate about the collections! Here is a write up of our interactive:

        Our digital interactive takes the form of a scavenger hunt throughout the whole of the museum and will adapt to new exhibitions depending on what the museum is showing. The idea to take on a museum-wide search is to get people to visit all the galleries and not just what the museum is most famous for, the large collection of Impressionist works. Many of the other galleries contain important and fascinating works, yet they are seldom visited or studied by the public. 
To start, we want to stress the idea of accessibility of the technology we use in our interactive search. We are aware that not everyone owns a smartphone to access the game on their device, so we want to include computer screens throughout the galleries so that everyone can participate. We also want to incorporate the idea of the interactive being a game or challenge, and the idea that one gains points throughout each challenge based on timing and answers. The visitor is actively competing with the other people in the museum, which gives them that competitive push to want to participate in the interactive. At the end of the game the visitor’s score is tallied up and placed in the rankings of all scores, so the idea is to get to the highest score ranking.
Our interactive would start off in the Modern Wing of the museum around the Education Center, and would start off with an easy question to initiate the challenge. An example of the question would be a compare and contrast, something that is not really seen in the art institute as it has such a strict encyclopedic layout. For example it would say find the image in the contemporary gallery that uses the same subject as this nineteenth century painting. From there they would find the painting and get a brief explanation and analysis of the painting and then get their next question. 
Other examples of challenges would be to show a puzzle piece taken out of a painting as well as a description of the style and technique used to create the painting, and then the visitor would have to find the artwork, find the art work that was inspired by the one in front of you, find similar subject matters within another gallery, find an image of a dog in a 16th century painting, count how many self-portraits are in a gallery, find a sculpture of a ballerina, Find a work in the Japanese collection that compares to something in the Impressionist gallery, etc. All the challenges would also give the visitor educational information about the works they find so that the visitor has a great learning experience.
The final challenge would be to put yourself into one of the paintings from the challenge, particularly the one that they find most interesting. The visitor would use the computer or smart phone to take a picture of themselves or their group and it would transform their photo into the style of the painting, and then go more in-depth about that work of art. The visitor can provide their email address and their creation will be sent to their inbox. After the visitors complete this challenge the game will tally the score and rank them among other players.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gallery show at the CAD

Just thought I'd share that the Chicago Art Department has a Gallery show opening this Friday, September 23, featuring the work of Riley Henderson and it is supposed to be pretty amazing. The Chicago Art Department is a really cool organization that you will learn more about when Nick and I give our presentation! The location is 1932 South Halsted.

Here is a link to the show details ---> Riley Henderson Show

Monday, September 12, 2011

Great advice from someone that's been there

I attended a party this weekend thrown by a second year MAAE student. This gave me an excellent opportunity to talk with and make connections with loads of second years (as well as other SAIC students not in the Art Ed department) and get their advice on beginning my journey at SAIC. Everyone I met has been so welcoming and nice which has made the beginning a very enjoyable experience so far. 

So I thought I would share the advice I was given this weekend:

One second year MAAE told me the most helpful thing to do at this stage is to journal or blog about your experiences. She noted that as dorky as it sounds it is really helpful in working through the thesis stage. Her advice was to journal about experiences, readings, lessons, lectures, exhibitions, or whatever strikes you as something important and worth noting. Going back at the second year stage and reading those entries allows you to discover a plethora of information in regards to your thesis. I guess you never know what may inspire you in your thesis a year from now. She also mentioned that looking back you'll probably start to see a pattern in the entries that you write, and this will give you insight into what theorists, educators, writers, or artists inspire you most. She even shaped her thesis around one of these people after catching that she continually went back to her writings. 

I guess it is time to get started on these entries!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A glimpse into my life and how I ended up in Chicago:

I never know how to start one of these in a way that is not totally awkward, so here goes!
Hello! I am Heather D'Andrea and a new MAAE student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago! I was born and raised in sunny South Florida. An odd fact about me is that even though I lived my first 18 years in a place that was considered freezing when it fell below 80 degrees I absolutely hate hot weather! I am not a fan of scorching hot summer days, but I am also not a huge fan of the freezing cold either so I guess I'm just picky. I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee at 18 to go to college at the University of Tennessee where I earned my bachelors degree. Upon moving to Tennessee I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life and I was one of those annoying students who ran to my advisor changing my major monthly for a while. I always wanted to pursue fashion design, but UT did not offer that as a program, so after switching from public relations to graphic design to advertising to communications to studio art to costume design to anthropology to journalism I met with an advisor who finally told me to design my own curriculum and take the classes I felt would help me with my goals. I did just that and started with Art History, and I absolutely fell in love and found something I never wanted to stop learning about. I was hooked from then on and knew art history was what I wanted to study and pursue. I ended up getting very interested in the depiction of outsiders in the history of art (special thanks to some awesome professors who pushed me and helped me find what I really enjoyed). I ended up writing my thesis on the depiction of prostitutes in 19th and 20th century art, specifically comparing the photographs of E. J. Bellocq to examples in painting from Manet to Picasso. I was very torn on what I wanted to do after graduating, I knew I wanted to stick with art history in some way, but I wasn't sure how. Then the summer before graduation I took a museum studies class, which opened me up to the wonderful world of museums and from that moment on I knew that art museum education was where I wanted to go. I started applying for grad school in museum education, art education, visual culture education, etc. and ended up choosing SAIC for grad school. I am super excited to be here and loving every minute of my new life in Chicago! 
Well that's enough rambling for now!