Teaching Art - Episode 1: Notes on the Classroom
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In Teaching Art, creative writing teacher Dennis Gaens looks into what it means to teach art in the present day. In this three part series he looks into where we teach art, who teaches it and what exactly is being taught.
In this first episode, he first looks into some legendary art schools with art historian Joanne Dijkman. In the second part, he discusses the classroom and how we should approach it with writers and teachers Lorena Briedis and Jesse Ball.
A transcript for this episode is available at https://studiumgenerale.artez.nl/
You can read more about Joanne Dijmkman’s PHD research here: https://www.artez.nl/en/research/professorship/art-education-as-critical-tactics/research-group/joanne-dijkman.
Information on the Black Mountain College exhibition at the Hamburger Banhof can be found here: https://www.smb.museum/en/exhibitions/detail/black-mountain-an-interdisciplinary-experiment-1933-1957/. The accompanying book was published by Spector: https://spectorbooks.com/black-mountain-en.
The European Association of Creative Writing Programmes can be found at https://eacwp.org/
Jesse Ball’s Notes on my Dunce Cap was published by Pioneer Works: https://pioneerworks.org/store/notes-on-my-dunce-cap.
Lorena’s Class Proposals, which you wlll find below, are heavily influenced by Jenny Tunedal, who teaches at the Valand Academy in Sweden. She herself was influenced by by an art project called Radikal Pedagogik by Lisa Nyberg and Johanna Gustafsson. Lorena learned about the proposals through this session at the EACWP: https://eacwp.org/activities/course-belgium-2019/.
Lorena teaches (and herself studied) at Escuela de Escritores: https://escueladeescritores.com/
Here are her class proposals:
• We are here because we want to write.
• We are here to play, to experiment, to rave, to wish for the impossible.
• We are also here to learn to read (us) in a critical way. We write as we read.
• We have set aside this time, each week, for our writing and for sharing our writing with each other.
• We are here because we have committed ourselves to be here.
• We are here to be the best writer each of us can be.
• We do not compete or compare ourselves with others.
• We recognize that writing is a craft that requires time and dedication, and we are willing to make our best.
• Writing every week and commenting on our classmates' texts is our way of giving.
• Listening to our classmates with attention and gratitude is our way of receiving.
• Giving and receiving require the same degree of courage, commitment and generosity.
• We take this space seriously and we take each other seriously, but we also know how to laugh, joke, play, have fun: how to enjoy.
• We are partners in the Dionysian faith.
• We interpret what the other tells us with benevolence.
• We are receptive and listen attentively.
• We recognize that this workshop is a dialogue with the present (our own texts and our circumstances) and with eternity (the literary tradition).
• We are personal and private when we need to be.
• We are strong and vulnerable at the same time.
• Everything that we share here and entrust to each other has a mystical character (ie, secret).
• We all contribute to creating a space of mutual trust and solidarity.
• We all have experiences that together we can transform into knowledge in the classroom.
• There are no better or worse texts: there are texts more or less crafted.
• The texts we write, every week, are not finished pieces. They are sketches, experiments, drafts: work in progress.
• We are generous with each other.
• We read in favor of our texts and not against them.
• We write and read like miners, that is, in the direction of gold, of poetry: that is, in the direction of the sacred that is in the wound of each text.
• In the texts we do not seek justice (we do not judge), we seek poetry (the infinite understanding).
• We are free to write what we want to write and to be whoever we want to be (we do not mistake the author with the narrator). We are interested in everything that concerns the human condition without exception.
• We dare to fail.
• We dare to take position and we also dare to change our position.
• We are not afraid to say what we think, but we say it with respect and with judgment.
• We let conflicts have their space (we don't fear them), but we don't make them either bigger nor smaller.
• We take responsibility for the power we have and help others to make visible their own power.
• We encourage each other to think critically and reflect on our work and the work of others.
• We recognize that being here is a privilege.
• We are companions, we stand by each other and support each other.
• We share together the bread (the sacrifice, the effort) and the wine (the joy) of each text. The workshop is our feast.
• We trust processes, more than results.
• We imitate and steal in order to learn.
• We rehearse, we practice, we succeed, we fail, but we never stop trying again.
• We rest when we need it.
• We are here, present and ready.
• We recognize that the ultimate sense of this space is our love for writing, for literature, for the artistic expression.
• We know that the path of writing is long and deep, and we are happy for that.
• We know that this journey can only be undertaken with patience, perseverance, with faith and with love.
• We tell each other: “Take your time. Enjoy. We have a course ahead. We're on our way."