Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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May 18, 2009

Olafur Eliasson and the Parliament of Realty

This weekend, I participated in “Teaching and Learning with Contemporary Art,” a professional development workshop offered jointly thru Art21 and the Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.  We spent our morning discussing the different ways that we merge form & content while encouraging our students to work with ideas.  Part of our day included a discussion with Olafur Eliasson, the artist most famous for creating the New York City Waterfalls.

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Mr. Eliasson has just opened the Parliament of Realty, a site specific installation on the grounds of the Bard campus.  This project was “conceived specifically with the life of the College in mind, The Parliament of Reality draws attention to our surroundings, both man-made and natural, while challenging the way we perceive and act in the world. The project is inspired by the Althingi, or Icelandic Parliament, the oldest national democratic institution in the world.”

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In our discussion with Mr. Eliasson he presented his thoughts on art that paralleled his thoughts on art education.  Eliasson’s art attempts to create connections with the world around us and in his classes, Mr. Eliasson asks his students not to make art but “to challenge life.”  He feels that the art classroom is a place “to learn to be in the world.”  Ultimately, Eliasson views “art as a language and not an object.”

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In the contemporary world, there are so many different paradigms for art making - from a singular artist creating objects in their studio, to artists who create artwork that is a collaborative discussion with the world around us.  Eliasson said, “It does not matter what language we use (paintings, classical sculpture, etc) but what we say with that language and why we say it.”  So my question for today is, how are we expanding our students engagement with art so that what is important is not the object that is created but the thinking that is experienced as a result of the object’s creation?

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Comments

Geri Romano

What a great series of workshops! I truly enjoyed being a part of this collaborative effort between PBS's Art21 and Bard College. Yesterday's workshop was an exciting culminating event. What a treat to listen to the artist in his own words. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.
Geri Romano

linda Devlin

Hey Nate
What an awesome experience! There are so many opportunities available to us here in the NY area. I'm so glad you shared this one with us.

If we are to teach students that what is important is not the object that is created but the thinking that is experienced as a result of the object’s creation then we need to look beyond our own classroom reach. This thinking must be embraced by our teaching peers, administration and parents.

So I would expand your question to how can we not only focus on teaching this philosophy to our students but additionally to our "community"

Keep up the great work. I really am enjoying your blogs!!
Linda Devlin

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Blogs are good for every one where we get lots of information for any topics nice job keep it up !!!

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Blogs are good for every one where we get lots of information for any topics nice job keep it up !!!


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