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