Friday, 23 August 2013

#artinquiry: New lessons for practice: Kelcy Allwein on El Anatsui’s Bleeding Takari II; Ary Aranguiz on tech tools and lesson plans; and Cathleen Nardi’s SlideShare on Art as Inquiry and Inquiry as Learning

This #artinquiry MOOC has provoked much thought and active engagement - and as always I've learned so much through the blogs and other posts from colleagues in the MOOC - so this week my blog post takes a different slant - and shares some of what I have learned from my friends... 

Kelcy Allwein - teaching El Anatsui
First, here's Kelcy’s great post on her artwork and how to teach it:"I chose El Anatsui’s Bleeding Takari II because of my interest in both installation art and artwork that is created through found objects.  As I researched Anatsui and looked at other installations of Bleeding Takari II, I was awestruck by the fluidity of this medium that comes from metal bottle caps yet seems as supple as fabric.   When you first see the thumbnail, Bleeding Takari II appears like an oil painting.  Yet this artwork changes each time it is installed somewhere so that there is the possibility for multiple interpretations just from the changing folds, shadows and pooling of the red caps… 
 
I can see a wall and its impact when I look at the Bleeding Takari II.  It speaks to me of a wall where many have shed their blood to climb it or tear it down.  It is reminiscent in some ways of the walls between East & West Germany during the Soviet era when East Germans were shot trying to escape by climbing over  the wall.  The bodies are not there in this artwork but it seems scarred with their blood.  While Anatsui took inspiration from three cities; his current country of residence (Nigeria) has a great deal of  violence that harms many who try to tear down literal and figurative walls to freedom.  But I like that Anatsui says that walls do not block the imaginative view (some of his other artworks show that clearly).  This is where I would put the focus of my questions to my students." 
 

El Anatsui was born in Ghana and now resides in Nigeria. The MOMA online display states that 'El Anatsui creates sculptures that allude to contemporary consumer habits and to the history of colonialism in his home nation and in his current country of residence, Nigeria'.  However, I think it is much more than that especially after looking at the Brooklyn Museum exhibit (on through Aug 18) and listening to him speak  - as well as my own experience in working with found objects that people touch personally.  On the exhibition page for the Brooklyn Museum, they state:
'El Anatsui became interested in the notion of walls as religious, political, and social constructs after visiting three cities whose histories have been shaped by such structures: Berlin, Jerusalem, and Notsie, a city in Togo from which his Ewe ancestors claim descent. Gli can mean “wall,” “disrupt,” or “story” in the Ewe language. “Walls are meant to block views,” Anatsui says, “but they block only the view of the eye—the ocular view— not the imaginative view. When the eye scans a certain barrier, the imagination tends to go beyond that barrier. Walls reveal more things than they hide.(http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/el_anatsui/#!lb_uri=gli_detail.php)'
Teaching Anatsui:
"I would start by asking a series of questions at different distances from the Bleeding Takari II.  The first vantage point would be 15-25 feet away so that was not easy to see the materials that make up the artwork – instead you get a sense of the whole picture where the wall seems readily visible.   Here I would ask the students to look at it for a few minutes and then ask what they thought the story was behind this artwork and how it made them feel.  If no one brought up walls, I would tell them how El Anatsui used walls for inspiration from three cities – Berlin, Jerusalem and Notsie.   I would then ask about the walls in those three cities (and prepared to give additional information as needed) and how those walls have impacted people in various ways.   Before we moved from here, I would also ask the students what material they thought the Takari was made out of.   However, I would not share this information yet but see if they could make it out as they moved closer.

Next we would move as close as possible to the Bleeding Takari II.  I would ask the students to look at it from all angles including the side. If possible, I would ask them to touch the artwork – to feel the bottle caps – to look at how they are placed on the floor.  If not allowed to touch the artwork, I would have a small handmade sample available.  I would also have several other photographs from other installations of the Takari to show that is indeed malleable and changeable.   I have included one that I found through Google image search.  I would ask their thoughts on how the artwork is constructed and if they knew what the materials were (I would tell them at this point if no one realized it was bottlecaps) and how it was constructed (how the bottlecaps were woven together).   I would also ask if they felt the same feelings now that they knew how the artwork was made and whether they saw any new stories from a closer point of view.

Then we would move back to the first spot 15-25 feet away and I would give them the quote from Anatsui about walls not being able to block the imaginative view.  I would ask them to think about this quote as they look again at this artwork and then describe how they feel it opens their imagination."

References:
El Anatsui: Art and Life, by Susan M. Vogel http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/3791346504/wnycorg-20/
Brooklyn Museum Exhibition webpage “Gravity and race:  Monumental Works by El Anatsui”, Feb 8 -Aug 18, 2013 (Includes a video interview with El Anatsui.)
MOMA webpage
Interview with Susan Vogel and El Anatsui  (scroll down to select the specific podcast)
Alternate Installation of Bleeding Takari II showing a variation in the folds

Additional ideas, resources and links from Ary Araguiz and Cathleen Nardi
And some great additional ideas for using art in the classroom – and thinking about using art in the classroom from Ary Aranguiz and Cathleen Nardi – without whose blogs and other posts my life would have been a lot less interesting:

Ary’s great ideas for using art in the classroom - as inquiry and as critical thinking:
And her tech tools suggestions – and lesson plan:

Cathleen’s excellent PPT on how to prepare for and think about using art as inquiry:

CODA: And here’s one we made earlier: friendship quilt as reflective practice
In a project that I was on (www.learnhigher.ac.uk), 2005-2010, we decided that as well as the formal end of project report, we would produce a friendship quilt that covered each of the 20 areas that we had been studying. Each one of us made a piece that reflected our experiences of working on the project and Pauline Ridley, of Brighton University, put the whole quilt together. I imagine doing this at the end of the year with a group of students. Each one makes one reflective piece - then we get together to sew the quilt - and perhaps film this sewing ... at the end we would have a quilt and a reflective documentary of the year...


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