PARIS LA 14: ART EDUCATION
Issue 14 Art Education English Winter 2016 144 pages in color 9 x 11 in.
As the mother of three daughters, I am intimately familiar with the questions and problems that come with creating a humanistic, well-rounded education for my kids in today’s world. Is it even possible? I launched this issue of PARIS LA to ask that question for myself, and my community.
Barbara Kruger is an artist whose work is uniquely engaged with the question of education. One of the leading artists of her generation, Kruger also teaches at UCLA. She points out here that one of the major challenges to teaching today is the distraction posed by digital technology and social media. There is no denying that today we live in, and through, a contemporary world that is coextensive with and inseparable from the internet. On that subject I recommend that you read Hito Steyerl’s torrential essay “Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?” on the question of what happens next, now that the internet has started to move offline.
For independent French curator Stéphanie Moisdon, the information we access through screens facilitates the position of hyper-spectator, a kind of exotouriste, and consequently creates distance and critical thinking. She also calls for a return to anthropology in every field of study, which for her would inevitably enable our sense of responsibility as human beings toward the planet to come to the fore. The anthropological impulse—the effort to study and understand the elements of what constitutes community, and ultimately what defines a culture—was at the heart of one of the 20th century’s most pioneering educational experiments, Black Mountain College. MoCA chief curator Helen Molesworth set out to write a feminist version of the artistic legacy of Black Mountain. One result of her effort is that now she herself recognizes that the idea of art for art’s sake is maybe not a bad one to entertain! What is interesting to notice in this particular context is that art was considered a process, never a product.
But time passed, and now the market is one of many active factors of our culture. About a year ago I attended a lecture by Frances Stark at the University of Southern California, where she was then teaching. As an artist and public intellectual Frances Stark knows how to choreograph thoughts, and during her talk she directed our attention to the role of school and the importance of art as not only a practice, but as a field of study. Today, the field of study Stark was referring to is under threat at USC because of bad management decisions. I met with Stark and her colleague A.L. Steiner, former director of the MFA program at USC, to hear the inside story of this debacle and how it has impacted them, both as artists and as teachers. Fired, forced out, their program dismantled—and yet, the experience did not dampen their commitment to pedagogy. Teaching, and maybe arts education in particular, is a commitment that proves that the practice of art is inextricably bound to the project of educating other artists. In this sense the Mountain School of Arts—a free art school created in L.A. at the dawn of the current century by two artist friends Piero Golia and Eric Wesley—is a utopian yet successful example of human enterprise.
I admit that, going into this issue, I felt that the educational system in the United States was in a state of complete crisis. Now added to this is the pain I carry for my hometown since November 13, all of which gives me little hope for the future of my children. But what I found instead, through these conversations, was a vital, contested field of engagement that does not depend on an institution or the market for its survival. And naively, this simple idea is enough for me to continue to bring knowledge, hope, and joy around me.
Cover: EDUCATE, AGITATE, ORGANIZE, 2010. Channel letter signs: low voltage LED lights, plexiglass, aluminum. By ANDREA BOWERS
Poster: NO MORE CORE, 2015
A YELLOW LEAF
WEST COAST ALTERNATIVES
I, YOU, HEN, NOUS, VOUS, ZE
CURRICULUM YEAR ZERO,
UNDER THE VOLCANO
L’ÉCOLE DE STÉPHANIE
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE
THE CLASS THAT GOT AWAY
TOO MUCH WORLD: IS THE INTERNET DEAD?
Centerfold: CHANEL WINTER 2016 AD CAMPAIGN REMIX