My university art education stu- dents are all digital natives. They do not remember a time when computers were not in their lives.
Time, distance, and quantity of images and
ideas pose few problems to them for inspiration
or research; they can search the world, past and
present, on the Internet. Yet they are still learning to look beyond the familiar and to judge the
quality and meaningfulness of the art content
they choose to share with their students.
I want my students to be knowledgeable about
artists who are using traditional and nontraditional media and techniques to create new art
forms. Artists worldwide are exploring these
new directions, some in what may be called a
global style. This style was evident in the Venice
Biennale 2011 last summer, where art was on
exhibit, inside and outside, all over Venice.
One of my favorite installations I would
describe as a global style was Crystal of Resistance, by Thomas Hirschhorn, in the Swiss
Pavilion. The pavilion was entirely filled with
crude crystalline structures, mannequins, duct
tape, tinfoil, broken glass, photographs, dolls,
televisions, telephones, chairs, plastic, paper, and
other found objects precariously taped together.
The viewer had to step in and around a maze of
all kinds of dangerous-looking pointed objects
and obstacles to the point of claustrophobia.
All of the objects and images displayed would
be familiar across the globe through television
and the Internet, such as photographs of political
demonstrations and the violence of war, Barbie
dolls, plastic furniture, CDs, and mass-produced
plastic chairs. Everything looked purposely hurriedly and sloppily put together—a reflection,
perhaps, about the world’s consumer-driven production of waste.
Now, you may not be able to go to the Venice
Biennale, but there are many meaningful and
comprehensive resources available online. One
of the best is PBS’s Art21 ( www.pbs.org/art21).
Now in its sixth season, Art21 offers free artist
videos, curriculum guides, and other materials,
all available online. And we here at SchoolArts
continue to focus on contemporary artists in our
Looking and Learning feature.
We encourage you to continue to look beyond
the familiar to “create the conditions for thinking something that has not yet existed” in the
artroom. Keep looking both near and far—you
may be amazed at what you will find.
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