Reading Responses (Week 7)

Selected Assignments

Bedwell: Measuring Joy

Deborah Bedwell articulates my exact fears concerning explaining how your work deserves funding. It’s a bit overwhelming to take concepts like personal and artistic expression and measure them. Nonetheless, Bedwell continues by sharing a “Joy Levels” assessment where program facilitators can observe behaviors of youth in the program and evaluate the frequency of such behaviors.

This article divulges the pathway to which their organization established this framework and who they needed to collaborate with in order to do so. A program planning and evaluation workshop supplemented the voices of those working with youth in the program by establishing a methodological evaluation in which to collect data.

In addition to incorporating these practices into my own community work, I will need to do further research about the “Theory-Based Logic Model Evaluation,” that The Kellogg Foundation uses to assess its programs, which Bedwell confirms is “if-then” based.

Reading Responses (Week 6)

Sections Assigned

  • Elkin, Art Critiques: A guide, Chapter 16: What if you’re asked to talk about your work? 63-68

One of my favorite books for sports psychology is Mind Gym by Gary Mack. I read select passages of it every time before I compete, as being an athlete constitutes much of my identity as well as being an artist and educator. In one of the sections, Mack elaborates on how he teaches mindfulness and envisioning success to athletes. “Imagine the perfect game.” He instructs professional athletes to be in their body, smell the grass, feel the viscosity of the air: develop the full picture.

When I approach discussing my art, I find the an intake breath pulls me away from my immediate environment. Then, the exhale allows me to center myself. My mindset is my power.

In order to find the right words and be honest about my work, I need to mentally inhabit that space. Just like in Mind Gym, I need to reintegrate myself into the environment in which I created my work.

“Journey to Enlightenment,” Acrylic on canvas. 2019. 14 x 11 inches.

Elkin’s guide to discussing your work is loaded with helpful tips, but doesn’t capture the essence of what I require. Without the breath and vision, I easily stumble.

I do enjoy her offering, “I’d like to say a few things about this, and then I’d like to hear what people have to say.” My work is often about social constructs, collaborative expression, and the self in context. Dialogue with others is a natural transition.

Presenting the audience with an opportunity to inquire about more heady, academic conversations outside of a formal speech is also a wonderful idea. Rather than forcing academic language and art theory at any audience, acknowledging this side of your work and providing an opportunity for the viewer to control the conversation seems approachable and productive.

Reading Responses (Week 5)

Sections Assigned

  • Crossing Disciplines and Modalities: A conversation with Margaret Wertheim
    Sculpture, Jan/Feb 2014, Vol 33 No. 1. p38-44

The concept of the crocheted community reef was particularly interesting. It reminds me of those knitting groups where communities of knitters come together over the internet and create multiple or one large work while at living in geographically diverse locations. It is particularly interesting to see how this a practice such as crocheting, which is often declassified from “art” to “craft,” can then be elevated again in both craftsmanship and context. Margaret Wertheim elaborates, “anyone can be taught to crochet in about 10 minutes, but the possibilities of how you can use it as a sculptural medium are amazing and endless.”

Wertheim evaluates the success of her project due to the variety of individuals brought together by the creation of the crocheted coral reef. When society silos people by their professions, what results are isolated microcosms where individuals exist in artificial boundaries. This project allows for people with like passions and curiosities to learn, create, and advocate together.

  • Liu, Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility, Part 2: The Practices, 41-186

*Skim through these 28 Practices and identify one or two that may be helpful to you as you develop your project. Share your thoughts in your Reading Response for the week.

Make Way for Awe: David McConville’s quote about the intentions of his GeoDome seem pretty spot on for my project. “We want you to feel like the universe is being re-enchanted.” I would like for my community arts-based project to allow families to develop play, whimsy, and appreciation for the natural world through their creative process. Exploring the natural world with creativity as a goal is an entirely new lens for many. This work is additionally important because it will hopefully increase conversations about stewardship, family history in natural spaces, and sustainable practices.

Reading Responses (Week 4)

Sections Assigned

Liu, Imagination First: Unlocking the Power of Possibility, Part 1: The Premise: 1-39

.The beginning of this reading was rather off-putting. Eloquently descriptive allegories of individuals’ creative ideas being shut down were compared to murder. That kind of hyperbole makes it challenging to want to read the rest of the passage. Although I understand the author is framing these instances as killing the passions and ideas of others, a statement like “murder was committed,” is so cringeworthy. For one, it demeans the severity of death and murder, but it also is a false comparison. In each of these situations, these “killings” of ideas could also be considered setbacks under the right, supportive conditions. Death is finite.

Continuing this theme, there was also a very strange accompaniment to the quote, “The reality is that imagination comes first. Until and unless we have the emotional and intellectual capacity to conceive of what does not yet exist, there is nothing toward which we are to direct our will and our resources.” Although I highly agree with this statement, the author then goes on to use both Nelson Mandela and J.K. Rowling as examples of individuals with vision. It feels tacky to compare the legacy of an individual who envisioned a multiracial democracy during apartheid to a single mother on welfare who wrote about wizards and became the creator of a major media franchise.

But, seeing as this is an assignment, I must continue.

I was excited to see Geoffrey Canada’s work come up in the passage. I am a huge fan of his model and would love to see it replicated across the country.

I also support the sequence of inherent imagination leading to creativity and then innovation. I feel like this concept helps break down the concept of creative people and not creative people. We can all imagine, dream, think. It is the application of these thoughts that institutes creativity. That means some effort needs to be spent. Failure must occur and we must learn.

The author continues by saying “imagination can’t be taught,” which is relatively true in my opinion. Imagination, like strength, memorization, or flexibility, requires a willingness to try to expand. Growing one’s capacity to imagine requires intrapersonal and often interpersonal support. By continuing to stretch ones ideas and push concepts further, one can imagine more fully.

Reading Responses (Week 3)

Sections Assigned

  • Finkelpearl: Dialogues in Public Art: Interview with Mierle Laderman Ukeles 309-337
  • Tan: “Culture in Motion: A mobile, inflatable auditorium brings arts programming to tsunami-devasted regions of Japan.” 46-53

Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ residency at the New York Sanitation Department transcended perceptions of status and preconceived notions of artistic merit. For this reading, I had to go back further than assigned in order to gain context about the origins of her work and her original intent.

I found her work to be particularly compelling in several ways, but also lacking in others. In her “I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day,” Ukeles was able to engage and transform workers’ perceptions of art and the process of maintaining systems in place. This, and her “Touch Sanitation Performance” brought visibility to the marginalized individuals making the city function. This work also elevates the conversation around maternal duties and the dichotomy of being a woman holding multiple roles.

Nonetheless, her work overlooked the larger socio-economic systems affecting the workers. Ukeles was able to use maintenance art to highlight the importance of the role of the sanitation workers, but was only able to better conditions in her life through the process. The sanitation workers she worked with, through perhaps given a new perspective on their daily labor, remain powerless in transforming their status.

The reading “Culture in Motion: A mobile inflatable auditorium brings arts programming to tsunami-devastated regions of Japan,” included several details in which I ruminated. The first was the Japanese concept of marebito or “sacred guests.” This term referred to those coming from foreign lands and the the positive attributes they incorporate into society. For many reasons, I believe it is important to learn an additional language. In the case of this example, there are words for concepts we do not have in our native tongue. Language can provide perspective and illuminate cultural connotations. Marebito reflects a willingness to learn from others and celebrate a variety of gifts in which all can benefit. What an exciting concept.

In reference to the auditorium itself, I found this project particularly interesting, as it reflects the essence of humanity in relation to the concept of providing humanitarian aid. When all is lost, do we become individuals or a collective unit?

Although I understand the two leading artists on the project are world renown, I am curious who funded this project and what channels were used to make it a financial and logistical reality.

Reading Responses (Week 2)

Sections Assigned

  • Heller: Becoming an Artist/Ethnographer in Visualizing Anthropology by Grimshaw 133-141
  • Garrett: “Free Your Mind.” 35

Heller: Becoming an Artist/Ethnographer in Visualizing Anthropology by Grimshaw 133-141

Roanna Heller reflects on her journey becoming an artist-ethnographer. This experience yields time for self-expression while reflecting on her role as an artist observing and as an artist participating in an environment. She shares, “I realized that the artist, like the ethnographer, is concerned with learning about and communication experience; however, artist learn though making (research by practice), exploring the world through imaginative material and conceptual interventions, whereas the ethnographer is trained to retain an analytical distance, to learn through text-based interpretation.” From there, her experience reminds me of Paulo Freire’s philosophy of reading. Heller reads the context of her environment and expresses this information by employing various artistic practices including visual arts, movement, and text. I find this work to be crucial in justifying multiple intelligences while providing a roadmap of this process.

Garrett: “Free Your Mind.” 35

Rob Garrett’s discussion of publicness and work in the public eye reminds me of a lesson I conducted with my students back in Phoenix, Arizona. We discussed the display of art and access to works. Sometimes, money or transportation were obstacles. Literacy could also inhibit an individual’s ability to see or understand certain art. However, when we began to collectively recognize and identify public art, students began to understand how accessibility can often reflect a work of art’s intended audience.

Garrett continues this discussion, stating “art can play an important role [in political change] by giving voice to what is silent in the existing balance of power.” Art in the public eye yields an opportunity to imagine the possibilities for social structure and individual liberties. Garrett’s concise article reflects my passion for public art and the dynamic possibilities for works to catalyze change.

Reading Responses (Week 1)

Sections Assigned

  • Freire, Literacy: Reading the Word and the World: Chapter 1, The Importance of the Act of Reading.  20-24
  • Searching for Art’s New Publics: Interview with Harrell Fletcher. 81-90
  • Majozo: To Search for the Good
  • Goldbard: “Calling All Citizen Artists.”

Searching for Art’s New Publics: Interview with Harrell Fletcher. 81-90

Harrell Fletcher’s experience in the world of studio and fine arts felt very familiar to me. As an artist feeling isolated in the confines of his studio, he began to wonder about the creation of art in public spaces and the need to engage communities through art. My transition to the world of community arts came from similar origins. My undergraduate degree in studio art led me to my career as an art educator. I found Fletcher’s variety of approaches in creating community-based art were intriguing and enlightening.

Freire, Literacy: Reading the Word and the World: Chapter 1, The Importance of the Act of Reading.  20-24

Since discovering Freire’s work, I feel overwhelmingly drawn to the lens he uses when approaching education. In the case of this reading, Freire justifies the ability to read as a means for the individual to perceive and understand their environments or “reading the world.” I believe this is key to understanding our realities, connecting with one another, and having a vision of progress.

Freire also dismantles the approach of reading alone as an exercise to get better at reading, stating this approach leads more to be devoured than understood. He argues this is a false comparison, like stating the quality of work is correlated to the quantity of pages written. Furthermore, Freire finds dismantleing texts and providing assigned sections to be a practice of “‘reading lessons’ in the old-fashioned sense.” Ironically, Freire writes, “I even read references to specific pages in this or that chapter from such and such a book, which had to be read: ‘pages 15-37.””

Majozo: To Search for the Good

Much of Májozo’s directly addresses my struggles as an artist and art educator. Dismantling the elitist views of what art should or should not have value is a constant in the arts. For centuries, various artistic expressions were viewed as inadequate, lacking technique, grotesque, and even degenerate. As Májozo discusses fearing losing aesthetics when working on a collaborative art project, she then addresses this as an elitist bias and highlights the societal function of collaborative public art.

I am specifically compelled by this section of her writing because this artist bias becomes implicit. Our perceptions of “successful art” hold the individual and the collective back from honest self-expression and communal, artistic action.

Goldbard: “Calling All Citizen Artists.”

I am fairly surprised how recent this document is, as it announces the launch of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. This 2013 document highlights the role of artistic and cultural activity as through the eyes of the United States government. Although I agree with their five pillars, I understand art, like education, to be inherently political. Considering what artistic and cultural expressions are truly valued and supported by the government means taking in consideration what the messages of those expressions are. Likely, the United States government will not support art rejecting “traditional American values” established by the historically elite, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, cis, straight men.

I believe this document to be an important step in protecting artistic and cultural expression, however it is legitimately as important to understand the history of the government from which this document came.