Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

Musings about the importance of art and art education

Conference MOMA

♠ Posted by ArtMuse at 2:07 PM

I was very fortunate that for my school's Superintendent's conference day that the art teacher from within our district had organized a professional development workshop at the Museum of Modern Art. The workshop was geared for k-12 and focused on women in art. As part of this we looked at the photographs of Dorothea Lang, Helen Levitt, and the art of Kara Walker. It was nice to be able to sit down as a group and view and discuss the artwork, it's sort of like a special treat for art teachers to be able to do this. I haven't gone to a museum in a while and doing this was a nice reminder of how much I love talking about and seeing new art. There were two mini-activities that we did which I'll share with you. The first is called a 'whip-around' and the second is called a 'draw and speak'. They're by no means new techniques in art ed, but they both make for good warm-up activities for kids when viewing art (at all levels).

The 'whip-around', very simply, was when the workshop teacher asked us to take a minute and view the artwork and then say 1 word, the first word that came to our minds, when viewing it. Then we simply went around the room and shared our word. It was a good way to get a discussion started.

The 'draw & speak' was a bit more involved than the whip around. Basically you work in pairs with 1 person being the speaker, who views the artwork and then must describe it to their partner, the drawer, who, using those descriptions, cannot see what the actually artwork looks like, but draws what the speaker is saying. Now, for the first 2 minutes or so, the drawer can't ask questions. However, after the 2 minutes is up, the drawer can ask questions to help them clarify what they are drawing. After about 5 minutes or so, the drawer turns around and can view the work. What's great about it is that it forces you and your partner to communicate about the work in ways that they normally wouldn't. It also fosters collaboration, team work, and on the part of the drawer, allows them to not only render the descriptions, but make mental visualizations based on what the speaker is telling them. Then when they get to viewing the actual piece, they are already engaged in viewing it because of all the differences/similarities between what they thought and what is actually there!

Right now at the museum they have a great abstract expressionist exhibit and if you go on the site there are tons of interesting resources/videos about the ab. ex's including Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Franz Kline.

Here are some of the artists we discussed:

Dorothea Lang
Helen Levitt
Jeff Wall
Robert Frank
Cindy Sherman
Martha Rosler
Grant Woods

Oh, and I forgot to mention one of the best parts, the museum is closed to the public on Tuesdays so when you plan/have a guided tour that day its like having the museum all to yourself! :)

* Martha Rosler "Cleaning the Drapes' 1969-1972 (she also has a contemporary series based on the Iraqi War, if you're interested)


Aah, MOMA, one of my favorite museums ever! My husband and I make a NYC trip every year, and one year we will do MOMA, one the Met, etc. This year it will be the Brooklyn Museum for sure, as we are also going to see the sketchbook exhibit at the Brooklyn Art Library. One year we did the Guggenheim, but I usually am disappointed afterward.

Wow I am super jealous how cool is that that you get to go to MOMA on school time!! Thanks for sharing the miniactivities too, I will try both with my students soon.