Artistic education takes many shapes, as artists pass down skills and traditions to see them transformed by new hands. In this episode, hear how the classroom shaped artists, both as learners and teachers. Stories include Anni Albers's descriptions of lessons with Paul Klee at the Bauhaus and her own teaching at Black Mountain College, Carmen Lomas Garza on the activism that shaped her time as a student teacher, and Lee Krasner's memorable training moments along her artistic journey among others.
Carmen Lomas Garza. Carmen Lomas Garza to Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, New York, N.Y., between 1985 and 1987. Tomás Ybarra-Frausto research material on Chicano art, 1965-2004. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Oral History Interviews Featured
- Anni Albers, 1968 July 5
- Vivian Browne, 1968 July 1
- Irena Brynner, 2001 April 26-27
- Carmen Lomas Garza, 1997 Apr. 10-May 27
- Ron Ho, 2017 May 9
- Lee Krasner, 1964 Nov. 2-1968 Apr. 11
- Carrie Moyer, 2020 August 20
- Carlos Villa, 1995 June 20-July 10
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Ronald Ho: And what was amazing, that once I started teaching those little kids, I just loved it. I mean, they were so enthusiastic and creative, every day somebody turned out this masterpiece.
Irena Brynner: And so first I went to Caroline Rosene to work as an apprentice. And she was very enthused in the beginning. And then this bad character trait that I was talking to you about rose up, where I say what I think. That didn’t exactly endear us to one another.
Anni Albers: During the start and rise of the Hitler period we received a letter at Berlin which said, "Will you consider coming to Black Mountain College? It's a pioneering adventure." And when we came to that point we both said, "That's our place."
Stephanie Ashley: Hello and welcome to ARTiculated, I’m Stephanie Ashley and I work as an archivist here at the Archives of American Art. This podcast receives support from the Alice L. Walton Foundation.
Every artist gets their start somewhere, and it’s often through a dedicated teacher. In this episode we will listen to just a handful of stories about pedagogy, apprenticeship, and the many people who contribute to artistic development and so much more. We’re sending an extra special thank you to all of the educators out there who enrich lives inside the classroom and out.
[Music fades out]
Ronald Ho is a jeweler who grew up in Hawaii and made his career in Washington state. While he’s widely known for his intricate, symbol-laden work, Ho has also been celebrated as an arts teacher. In his 2017 oral history with Lloyd Herman he described the surprising lessons that he learned while teaching and how it affected his creative work:
Ronald Ho: I took this list in, and I said I wanted to have a ninth grade art class. And what happened was, in order to do that, I had to give up one of my planning periods. But I didn't care, because these were such wonderful students.
Lloyd Herman: And I'm guessing you get a lot of pleasure and feedback from teaching.
Ronald Ho: And so, what happened—at first, from 1960 to 1969, I taught in the junior high school. But at that point, at Newport High School, in the Bellevue School District, Ron Adams was teaching then. And so they needed to have a jewelry program started there. So, they asked me if I would transfer to the high school.
Lloyd Herman: Oh.
Ronald Ho: And that's how I started teaching the high school jewelry program, as well as painting, design, and also photography.
Lloyd Herman: Hmm [affirmative] .
Ronald Ho: And the other thing that also happened, midway through my teaching career at the high school, we lost enrollment. And so, they said to me, "You know what? You're going to have to teach elementary art half-time." And I thought, "I don't want to teach those little kids." They said, "No, you have to." So, I started teaching elementary art. Well, I was teaching then—in the mornings, I would teach the high school, and then—
Lloyd Herman: This is at Newport?
Ronald Ho: At Newport. And then, in the afternoons, I would start at the elementary school.
Lloyd Herman: Boy.
Ronald Ho: And what was amazing, that once I started teaching those little kids, I just loved it. I mean, they were so enthusiastic and creative, every day somebody turned out this masterpiece.
Lloyd Herman: I remember once you had a trunkful of your student's work that you were so proud of that you showed me. [Laughs.]
Ronald Ho: Right, oh yeah. And you know, the thing is, those little kids were so lovely, because they would come up to me and say, "Oh, Mr. Ho, Mr. Ho, art is my favorite subject." And I always thought, if you could only keep that kind of enthusiasm going the rest of their life, we would have these creative individuals. But you know, by the time they got to high school, they already had what I call braces on their brains, you know what I mean?
Lloyd Herman: You got recognition as an art teacher, I believe.
Ronald Ho: Well, first of all, I started with the Washington Art Education Association. And so, they gave me this award, which then allowed me to be part of the National Art Education Conference, where they also selected the top elementary art educator, which I also got at that point.
Lloyd Herman: [Laughs.] For something you were initially reluctant to do. [Laughs.]
Ronald Ho: Yes, exactly, you you know, I actually taught, in the end, for 34 years, And, you know, when I was teaching, actually that was a great time of creativity for me, because even though I was teaching, I would sometimes be working in my studio till 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. in the morning, and then go to bed and get up and go to school.
Stephanie Ashley: Vivian Browne left a remarkable impression as a painter, activist, and educator. In her art, she moved between landscape, abstraction, and critical portraits that weighed Black women's experiences from the 1960s until her death in 1993. Alongside her painting, she also co-founded SoHo 20 Gallery, which was one of the first women's art cooperatives in New York, and she worked tirelessly to promote the arts through pedagogy and curation.
Stephanie Ashley: In her 1968 interview with Henri Ghent, she talks about the powers, possibilities, and problems of teaching:
Henri Ghent: I see. Tell me about your teaching career.
Vivian Brown: Oh, well, I began teaching in South Carolina. I had had absolutely no training in education because, as I told you, they didn't think I was material at Hunter. And they didn't think that because I had a lisp. So when I went to South Carolina, I taught in a Negro high school which had many vocational courses. There were two in Columbia and I was at Booker T. Washington. That was very difficult. The first year I just didn't know how I was going to make it, but it became better. And there were many community activities in the south. You know, the high school was the center of all social activities. And that helped. In the city here you don't have quite that much, although everyone is trying to do that now. Then after that I worked at something else. Oh! I was a secretary for awhile. A Dictaphone secretary. At the National Board of Presbyterian missions. And I got terribly bored with that. At least in the classroom you had your own room and you were the boss. Being a secretary was pretty tough. So I went back to teaching and I taught at a junior high school in Bayside, Queens. It was a brand new school and was quite a job. From there I went to another junior high school in Brooklyn which was designated one of the most difficult schools in the city. I met some wonderful people there.
One of the artists I know taught there. And from there I went to high school. In high school it was a paradise in comparison to junior high school teaching. After I got to high school I began painting much more seriously. Somehow the two worked together. That was a good experience. I taught in that high school for, oh, almost seven years before I went, you know . . . and then I finally quit. I resigned. It as the year after I had come back from California because I couldn't stand not painting anymore. And after you teach for awhile and all in all I taught for eleven years in the classroom. After such a period of time as this is, it stagnates, you know. And the children begin answering different, different classes the children begin answering questions in exactly the same way, exactly the same way, exactly the same words. And the routine is just so, it's just all rote. And your mind begins to go around in little circles. So I had to resign. I really didn't want to, because again there's the security business. But I couldn't get a leave of absence or anything like that because art is not considered really that important in the school system. You look surprised.
No, it isn't. If anything goes, you know, like this year funds are being cut. And art teachers are being let go. That's the first thing. There is something very wonderful about teaching. I don't mean to say that it's all boring and that it's all drudgery because it isn't. There is something that just sparks you and you do get a great deal from children. In high school they're at a point where things are very, very exciting and they are knowledgeable enough and they are energetic enough so that they pursue their curiosities. And their pursuit sparks you in your thinking and your ideas.
Henri Ghent: You speak of art as being sort of a step-child education. Do you think that the government should subsidize the arts in this country?
Vivian Browne: Oh, yes, oh, wholeheartedly, yes. I've always thought that. I think that the government subsidizes so many things that it is necessary. And I think it's necessary for this country, and not really so much for the individual artists because that artist knows he has to fight. He's going to fight. But it's necessary for this country to heed what an artist gives to people, what the artist's purpose is. Because we've been going along in one direction for such a long time and it's frightening, it's dreadful what's happening and what can happen. You know, mechanization and industrialization and with little robots going on. And it's only the artist who can save people from this, if only just letting them look and see. If it's a responsible government then it is incumbent upon it to keep this alive rather than sitting on it all the time, you know, trying to stamp it out. I really think it's frightening what can happen. And I also think that the government is beginning more and more to realize that something has to balance this materialistic world that we've built up here. There isn't anything at all else but the artist to do that.
Henri Ghent: Thank you Miss Browne.
Stephanie Ashley: Teaching can also be a vital current for an artistic practice. Carmen Lomas Garza has been a leader in Chicano activism through her work as a painter, illustrator, and educator. In her 1997 oral history with Paul Karlstrom, she recounts an episode from the end of her own education in Texas that galvanized her efforts for equity in the classroom and beyond:
Carmen Garza: you don't finish your student teaching, you don't get your teaching certification, and you don't get your degree. So I was taking my art education class, and you get assigned to a public school that participates in this training of education students. So I got placed in [Robstown] High School.
Paul Karlstrom: In where?
Carmen Garza: Robstown High School, which is just north of Kingsville. It's about half an hour's drive from Kingsville. Robstown is heavily populated by Mexican Americans and Mexicans. The high school was over eighty percent Mexican American.
Paul Karlstrom: Wow!
Carmen Garza: At that time there was only one faculty that was Mexican American, and he was the assistant coach. There was on campus a lot of unrest because the Chicano movement was being known, now it's becoming more aware, and some of the organizers of the Chicano movement on campus at the University were from Robstown and were very much aware of the discrimination and racism and inequities in Robstown, the public school system. And it only had one high school. So I was student teaching in Robstown High School. I had the morning classes. And the art teacher gave me some instructions. In the art room-it was in a building that was connected to, adjoining an auto shop.
In between the auto shop and the art room was the auto shop's teacher's office, and in the auto shop teacher's office was a radio, which he kept on, piped into the auto shop, and it was also piped into the art room. The radio station it was always tuned into was a country-western station, and the shop teacher told me, "You cannot change the radio. It has to stay on this country-western station. You can turn it off, but you can't change the radio station." So, okay. So I started with the classes and, of course, the Mexican American students, after a while, would say, "Can you change the radio station to la-la-la?"
Paul Karlstrom: To some good music?
Carmen Garza: [laughing] Yeah. And I'd tell 'em, "Well, I can't because the shop teacher won't let me do that." And so in this class the great majority was Mexican American, and I had some high school students that were recently arrived from Mexico that did not speak English. So I was not allowed to speak Spanish to the students. I had to do all of my instruction in English. So what I would do is, I would give the instructions in English and then when I was going around talking to the students . . .
Paul Karlstrom: You would cheat. [chuckles]
Carmen Garza: I would cheat. The students would ask me in Spanish to explain what I had said, so how am I going to not explain to them?
Paul Karlstrom: Of course.
Carmen Garza: So I would explain to them.
Paul Karlstrom: Besides, you're interested in them learning something.
Carmen Garza: Exactly, right. So I would explain to them. And eventually they would say if I could change the station so I . . . "No." So what I decided to do is, I turned off the radio and I went to the library and I checked out a record player, and I told the students, "You can bring your records from home. The first half hour will be country-western, the second hour will be whatever you bring from home, of your records." So we did that; we started to do that. About the third day I put on a Carlos Santana album, and that was too much for one of the white students. He got up, yelled at me-obscenities-said, "How dare you put. . . . I'm tired of hearing this Mexican music and I don't want to hear any more of it, and I don't have to listen to this. I'm going to talk to the principal." He was the principal's son.
Paul Karlstrom: Oh, no!
Carmen Garza: So he left without my permission.
Paul Karlstrom: He obviously had no good taste in music. [chuckles]
Carmen Garza: Well, whatever. So the art teacher got in trouble, because the principal then went and complained to her. So I got into trouble. "No more records." So from then on I was on watch.
Carmen Garza: So, okay, so no more speaking in Spanish, no more music. And then a few weeks later-not too long after that, actually-one morning I had the first class. The high school is not an enclosed building. It's got these wings, outdoor wings, so that the hallway's just a porched area. I started hearing, "Chicano power! Walk out! Chicano power!" And it kept getting louder and louder and louder, and the windows were open because it so hot, and the students came by and right then about one third of the kids got up and was about. I had no idea it was going to be happening. I was not told by the MAYOs on campus that they were going to stage a walkout in Robbstown High School. And I knew what it was about, though, because it had been happening in other towns, and so I knew. I didn't stop the students. I couldn't have stopped them physically, anyway.
Paul Karlstrom: Right.
Carmen Garza: Yeah, so they got up, the boys. It was mostly boys that got up and left. A couple of girls got up and left. And they were yelling, "Chicano power!" and "Walk out!" and "We want our history, we want Chicano teachers," and na-na-na. And so then they left, and there were still some kids in there, and they were asking me, in Spanish, "¿Me voy? ¿Me voy o me quedo?" And I said, in English, "Whatever you feel you have to do, do. I cannot physically stop you."
Stephanie Ashley: Practices like metalwork and jewelsmithing often rely on apprenticeship models, where new artists learn from experienced practitioners over years to refine their craft. Irena Brynner, a sculptor, jeweler, and opera singer who was born in Russia in 1917 and made her career in San Francisco, describes a catalyst moment when she saw the work of sculptor Claire Falkenstein as well as her drive for an apprenticeship afterwards in her 2001 oral history with Arlene Fisch.
Irena Brynner: And then I saw the sculpture of Claire Falkenstein.
Arlene Fisch: I was really interested in that. Where did you see her work?
Irena Brynner: Just on somebody. Somebody had a band, a silver band, and here hung a completely free—what do you call them—mobile, you know? And I thought, my God, but that is sculpture! I don’t have to go away from sculpture, I just will change the size and approach, and it has to be in relation to the human body! That was a revelation to me.
Irena Brynner: And so first I went to Caroline Rosene to work as an apprentice. And she was very enthused in the beginning. And then this bad character trait that I was talking to you about rose up, where I say what I think. That didn’t exactly endear us to one another. And it was difficult to work for her. She was paying me something like 60 cents an hour, and every time I broke a saw blade – when I was starting, I didn’t know – she was very upset about it. So just two months we worked, and then it didn’t work.
Irena Brynner: Then Bergman was looking. That is through Frank I got to him. And he was both a jeweler and a potter. It was before Christmas, about two months before Christmas, and he said, “You sit and do all my jewelry, and I’ll do my pottery.” And so I had to go through the whole thing, and he was so wonderful. He paid me half of what he got from the store. Everything, the whole approach was different.
Arlene Fisch: Were you working in silver or gold?
Irena Brynner: In silver. And there were lots of constructed pieces and I learned how to solder now too, but calmly. Nobody was angry at me. And he was a very interesting man. I really enjoyed doing it. And he said, “Don’t quit it. Don’t quit it. You definitely have something for it.”
Irena Brynner: I went to adult education classes where they taught me where to buy materials and so on and so on. Then we moved away from the Richmond District. We bought a house on Broderick Street in Marina, and I had a whole room for my workshop. But I didn’t have much money to do anything, so I had a washing machine motor for polishing, and a metal ironing board was the place on which I soldered. And I had a little alcohol torch and Bunsen burner that were my first soldering equipment.
Arlene Fisch: Anni Albers blazed an incredible trail in the textile arts as she went on to influence, inspire, and teach new generations of fiber artists. Albers was born in Berlin, Germany in 1899, and she studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1922. There she studied with famed artists including Johannes Itten and Paul Klee, the latter of which she describes in her 1968 oral history with Sevim Fesci:
Sevim Fesci: If I understand correctly, Klee was your teacher?
Anni Albers: Well, in a very limited way. I admire Klee very much. But what I learned from him I learned from looking at his pictures. Because as a teacher he was not very effective. I sat in a class which he gave to the weaving students and I think I only attended perhaps three of the classes.
Klee was so concerned with his own work. He would walk into the room, go up to the blackboard, turn his back to the class, and start to explain something that he probably thought was of concern to those listening to him. But he probably didn't know at all where each of us there was in his own development, in his own concern, in his own searching. I'm sure there were some students who had more direct contact with him. But I didn't have it at all. On the other hand, I find that he probably had more influence on my work and my thinking by just looking at what he did with a line or a dot or a brush stroke and I tried in a way to find my way in my own material and my own craft discipline.
Sevim Fesci: I understand that imagery never interested you very much?
Anni Albers: You mean by that representational work?
Sevim Fesci: Yes, representational.
Anni Albers: No. No, not really. Because of this what I just said I was trying to build something out of dots, out of lines, out of a structure built of those elemental elements and not the transposition into an idea, into a literary idea.
Stephanie Ashley: Albers came to the United States in the 1930s with her husband, the painter Josef Albers, to teach at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina:
Sevim Fesci: Now we've just talked about your work. I would like to ask you do you really sense there's a very different style between what you did at the Bauhaus and what you're doing now, for instance, where the line is much more . . . ?
Anni Albers: Not really. Well, like everybody has a period of development. Those which I showed you are -- although they may look very simple -- are technically very intricate. They are two-ply weaving. That is something that is in handweaving very rarely done today. And so from technical considerations various ideas developed. I see no real break, although the things may look different.
Sevim Fesci: I see. In the looks.
Anni Albers: There is no break. When I left the Bauhaus I stopped doing this.
Sevim Fesci: And then you came to Black Mountain?
Anni Albers: To Black Mountain College. During the start and rise of the Hitler period we received a letter at Berlin which said, "Will you consider coming to Black Mountain College? It's a pioneering adventure." And when we came to that point we both said, "That's our place." And it turned out to be a very interesting place because it gave us a freedom to build up our own work. Josef built up his whole teaching there and his whole color work which has nothing to do with anything we had left behind in Europe. I built up a weaving workshop and got into teaching and developed teaching methods that . . . .
Sevim Fesci: What is your method of teaching? How do you . . . ?
Anni Albers: Well, maybe it's an exaggerated term to call it "method" at all. But I tried to put my students at the point of zero. I tried to have them imagine, let's say, that they are in a desert in Peru, no clothing, no nothing, no pottery even at at that time, and to imagine themselves at the beach with nothing. And what do you do? There are these fish at the Humboldt Current, marvelous fish swimming by, the best in the world in fact, because of the cold current there. And it's hot and windy. So what do you do? You wear the skin of some kind of animal maybe to protect yourself from too much sun or maybe the wind occasionally. And you want a roof over something and so on. And how do you gradually come to realize what a textile can be? And we start at that point.
And I let them use anything, grasses, and I don't know what. And let them also imagine what did they use at that point. Did they take the skin of fish and cut it into strips possibly to make longitudinal elements out of which they could knot something together to catch the fish? And get carrying materials in that way.
Sevim Fesci: Quite a bit of imagination there.
Anni Albers: Exactly. Absolutely inventing something. And gradually then we invented looms out of sticks and so on. And the Peruvian back strap loom. And once they understand these basic elements, that the Peruvian back strap loom has embedded in it everything that a high power machine loom today has. And they understand it in a completely different sense than walking into a factory and seeing these things operate because they know what is necessary and what kind of inventions have occurred in the course of history. Well, this is a very rough way of doing it. So it goes back to imagination and invention.
Stephanie Ashley: Teaching happens in the classroom as well as through artistic connection across generations. Carlos Villa was a Filipino-American multimedia artist who explored cultural collision, and his time as a student and teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute was an important part of the awareness building that marked his work.
Paul Karlstrom: He talks about his teachers and colleagues—including the sculptor Manuel Neri—and the complexities of influence in his 1995 oral history with Paul Karlstrom: Continuing the interview with Carlos Villa, session three, tape one, side B. Carlos, we were still talking about those days—early sixties, I think, is really what we’re talking about—the very interesting times in and around the art institute, or California School of Fine Arts, and you were talking about some of the people, and I’d like to continue with that,
Carlos Villa: I think that most everyone had a name or a place that they wanted to be or there were specific kinds of issues that everyone was dealing with. I think the people that were maybe the most focused. . . . I can’t say that I was the most focused person. I would say that I was taking a lot of things in and I was just learning everything. I had a lot of catching up to do. I failed to mention Bill Morehouse as a very precious . . . he was a very, very precious commodity for me, because his teaching allowed me to find myself. He taught a class at the same time Manuel taught a class. Manuel freed me a lot, but then I’ll say one thing about Bill Morehouse. He had a class dealing with painting but using industrial materials. And he cleaned out his garage and he brought all of these . . . this old paint and tar and everything else like that. He says, "Do some art with it." And I remember doing some art with this roofer’s cement, and all of sudden I bypassed a bunch of centuries of art to come to my own right away. [chuckling] I mean, I was getting a lot from Manuel—Manuel and Joan—but just that one class. . . .
Paul Karlstrom: Well, what did that tell you? I mean, what did you get from that experience other than, "Wow, lookit! I can use this stuff that’s certainly nontraditional."
Carlos Villa: I made a connection with myself. See, this was an important thing. Because when I was in everybody else’s class
and everybody was saying, "Oh, you’re doing good, you’re doing good, you’re doing wonderful. Just keep on doing what you’re doing. Ah, look what he did, look what he did." My eyes just weren’t that sensitive or attuned to exactly what I was about or what I was thinking about. But when Bill said, "Do some art with this, this tar," when I did it all of a sudden it made a direct connection to me.
And since I’ve been teaching, you know, now for twenty-six years, I’ve noticed that with myself or with anyone else who’s very, very young, you go through those pains and you get those same lessons, and it’s the lessons of just copying rather than going to the essence. Like, okay, then you see this great Rauschenberg piece, "Oh God, where do I get a goat?" you know. And then paint it a different color and get it a different size tire and say it’s really mine. [laughing]
Stephanie Ashley: Lee Krasner, a pathbreaking abstract painter who was born in Brooklyn in 1908, had the gamut of experiences during her artistic education. In her 1964 and 1968 interview with Dorothy Seckler, Krasner talks about memorable teachers in the galleries and in the studios across New York City:
Dorothy Seckler: At the Academy, what artists had you admired, would you have liked to paint like?
Lee Krasner: Oh, at the Academy I was very busy trying to do my best like everybody else was, only I never could made it. For the life of me it wouldn't come through looking like academy. Although I was exerting every possible effort to try to make it, it just kept pushing in different directions, so I was not what was considered, a good – I wasn't a prized student there by a long shot.
Dorothy Seckler: And then when you say your first Matisse and Picasso, roughly what year would that have been?
Lee Krasner: Well, this is hard for me to pin down. I was at the Academy as a student and this was a Saturday afternoon. A group of us went down and saw them and that really hit like an explosion. As a matter of fact, nothing else ever hit that hard until I saw Pollock's work.
Dorothy Seckler: And then did this begin to affect your work?
Lee Krasner: Oh, I imagine there must have been some effect. I don't know if it was immediate – only to this extent – as I said, there was a group of us, some eight or ten, that went down to see this show. When we came back on Monday to class, we did succeed in taking the model stand and pulling it out in the center of the room, away from the dark red of the background. We took the jacket off the man and put a bright colored lumber jacket on. On the first day of criticism, our instructor walked in and did about three criticisms, and then hurled the brushes across the floor and walked out of the room, saying, "I can't teach this class anything." So it wasn't that I was affected, I think quite a few people were affected.
Dorothy Seckler: Quite a story there, who was the instructor?
Lee Krasner: A very charming, delightful man, who practically never raised his voice. He was extremely patient. I believe he was Mr. Sydney Dickinson who was our portrait instructor. I remember quite accurately what happened that afternoon, so I say, I wasn't the only one affected by the exhibition.
Dorothy Seckler: And then you went on painting your own, following more or less in this direction?
Lee Krasner: Well, I certainly seemed for the first time, to be a little more at ease with what I was trying to do. I couldn't fit into the school, either at Washington Irving or at Woman's Copper Union or at the Academy. At least there was some sort of identification here that didn't make me feel quite as foreign to myself.
Dorothy Seckler: How about Cubism? At that time were you affected very much?
Lee Krasner: Well, I'd say the real impact of Cubism was after I started to work with Hofmann, who was one of the leading exponents in terms of explaining it in this country. I, at least, feel so.
Dorothy Seckler: You were something of a Fauve, I suppose at this point.
Lee Krasner: I wouldn't know, I wouldn't know how to classify it. I think I was pretty much searching at this time.
Dorothy Seckler: How did you make a living then?
Lee Krasner: At one point, I was waitressing in the Village, where I lived and then I decided to do something practical about livelihood, so I took my pedagogy, so I could qualify to teach art. I got through with it – I took it at CCNY – did waitressing in the afternoons or evenings, did this work in the daytime. I got my pedagogy and decided the last thing in the world that I wanted to do was to teach art so I tore that up.
Stephanie Ashley: The covid-19 pandemic has changed teaching forever, moving courses online and putting more demands on our educators than ever before. Carrie Moyer, a painter in Brooklyn who is also the director of the MFA program at Hunter College, talked about the impact of arts education for all in her 2020 pandemic oral history with Ben Gillespie:
Carrie Moyer: We're not in this moment, and we haven't been for a long time, where the avant-gardes, you know, even that term is kind of a relic. But there was a—you know, in the 20th Century, I was born in 1960, the avant-garde had a politic. You know, it was—so, these two—like, the avant-garde and the word radical might go together. Do we think that artists are these change agents in the way that like, um, you know, Malevich or people in the Russian Constructivist movement did, or even, um, you know, like the futurists who were much more conservative, in fact, is it—I guess the point that I'm trying to make is like—and this is something that most artists are going to recognize. It's like one of the things that is and has been sort of critical to art school is the fact that even if one doesn't become an artist ultimately, it becomes a tool for learning how to think in a kind of dialogic and critical way about how things are functioning. And I feel like instead of, um, sort of burying ourselves, even though this is the impulse and we're being told to stay home, it feels really even more necessary to sort of expose ourselves to things and information and participate in the best possible way we can.
And not just by making a painting. Like painting is one aspect of it but being like a full citizen is—just feels really critical right now. So, you know, my personal instinct is I want to just stay in my studio and making paintings, but it's like—and part of that is important, but it's also really, really essential to stay involved with the communities, be aware of what's going on, you know, participate in it. So, that's my message for the day. [Laughs.]
[Theme music plays]
Stephanie Ashley: This podcast is produced by Ben Gillespie and Michelle Herman at the Archives of American Art. It was edited by the team at Better Lemon Creative Audio
Our music comes from Sound and Smoke composed by Viet Cuong and performed by the Peabody Wind Ensemble with Harlan Parker conducting.
For show notes, work cited, and additional resources, visit aaa.si.edu/articulated.
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