Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Art Of A Week

Ten days back I arrived at Bennington College's bucolic campus to teach my master course Landscape and Meaning for Art New England. Over the course of five days I watched the fields shift from tall meadow to cut hay, then rolled into yodels for ungulate fodder. You could say nature was converted to culture before my eyes. Above, a sixty thousand dollar view (education included).

Sunday arrival and orientation.

There was a twelve-hour ice cream bin, but I did not partake. I did think it looked awfully like a tray of watercolors. The food was designed by a corporate service for college kids and as it happened -I ate like one. Probably my only weekly weight gain since I chose to eat quite a bit differently last winter.

On the final evening the students bring the week's work to exhibit in the main arts building. We had only four students but they had more than enough work to fill the enormous wall. And they worked beyond the limits of painting -there were nearly 200 pages of reading, hour long discussions morning or afternoon, and one student even wrote a two page essay.

The final critique, Saturday morning. Only brave people sign up for a course titled Landscape and Meaning where the description contained words like conventions and interrogation. My students were open, inquisitive, focused and productive. A teacher could hardly ask for more.

I cannot teach meaning, but I can provide context and cultural attitudes, we can view our works through the perceptive lenses of Marxism, Feminism, and social or cultural geography. We can tap into the deep well of literature and its criticism for parallels to our project. Why paint the land and if we must, how? Not easy questions, but then the class was just a beginning, a seed.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to know some artists still use paint and brushes. Was just reading about art after occupy and you might get a kick out of the part about the militant survivalist organizing an art party against the pipeline in a few weeks.


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