By Michelle Harrell, Director of Education, and Jill Taylor, Manager of School and Teacher Programs
Culturally Relevant Teaching with Contemporary Art
How can incorporating contemporary artists into school curriculum support culturally relevant teaching? Through discussing contemporary art, students can see their own identities and social concerns represented. However, contemporary art may seem intimidating for educators new to arts integration. Art21 films can provide a catalyst for dialogue connecting students’ lived experiences to concepts and big ideas across discipline
What is Art21?
Art21 is a non-profit organization devoted to making contemporary art accessible to a wide audience by working directly with the artists of our time. Their mission is “to inspire a more creative world through the works and words of contemporary artists.” In addition to the films, which air on PBS, Art21 provides extensive resources for educators in teaching and learning through the works and words of contemporary artists. Begin by exploring Getting Started: An Introduction to Teaching with Contemporary Artists to explore discussion strategies, activities, and additional resources for the artists featured in their films.
Concepts and Big Ideas
Educators can use Art21 films to find of artists who explore the same big idea in their work. Each Art21 episode is ordered by Big Ideas similar to the NCMA’s Big Picture Concepts to link subject area content with overarching concepts and ideas, such as Play and Place.
These big ideas and concepts can help educators find entry points across grade levels and disciplines. Art21’s new playlists offer additional themes to bridge subjects.
[Insert photo of City in the Grass]
Leonardo Drew and Investigation
Art21 artist Leonardo Drew currently has a monumental outdoor sculpture City in the Grass, installed in the Ellipse of the Museum Park. Drew appears in Art21 Season 7’s Investigation episode exploring two essential questions: (1) How do artists push beyond what they already know and readily see? And (2) Can acts of engagement and exploration be works of art in themselves? Along with a video interview of Drew working in his studio, the film includes an interview with Graciela Iturbide, whose work is in the Museum’s collection. The overarching big idea of investigation provides a framework to compare artists with diverse cultural backgrounds and art forms. By extending the investigation into their own environments, students can build upon their own cultural influences and develop their creative voice.
Art21 Artists in NCMA’s Collection
The Museum’s growing contemporary galleries includes 15 artists who are featured in Art21 films. Explore these artists and Art21 artist pages in the list below or related resources on the left sidebar:
- El Anatsui- Art21 artist page and NCMALearn resources on left sidebar
- Louise Bourgeois- Art21 artist page and the NCMA’s Spiral Woman
- Elizabeth Murray- Art21 artist page and NCMALearn resources on left sidebar
- Yinka Shonibare- Art21 artist page and two works at the NCMA: Eleanor Hewitt and Wind Sculpture II
- Ursula von Rydingsvard- Art21 artist page and NCMALearn resources on left sidebar
- Graciela Iturbide- Art21 artist page and NCMALearn resources on the left sidebar
- Barbara Kruger- Art21 artist page and the NCMA’s Picture This (slide 9 of 33) in the slideshow
- Sally Mann- Art21 artist page and the NCMA’s Shiva at Whistle Creek
- Zanele Muholi- Art21 artist page and NCMALearn resources on the left sidebar
- Collier Schorr- Art21 artist page and the NCMA’s Joachim, Pear Tree, Reitprechts
- Rafael Lozano Hemmer- Art21 artist page and the NCMALearn resources on the left sidebar
- William Kentridge- Art21 artist page and the NCMA’s Kaboom!
Artists with work on loan to the NCMA or a promised gift to the collection:
- Nick Cave- Art21 artist page, one work on loan to the NCMA
- Trenton Doyle Hancock- Art21 artist page, one work on loan to the NCMA
- Rashid Johnson- Art21 artist page, three works on loan to NCMA
- Susan Rothenberg- Art21 artist page, two promised gifts to the NCMA
- Cindy Sherman- Art21 artist page, one work on loan to the NCMA
Art21 / NCMA Online Workshop
Interested in learning more about integrating contemporary art into the classroom? In collaboration with Art21, educators will investigate the work of Leonardo Drew and other contemporary artists to make connections between art and the world around us. The May 2 workshop was postponed because of COVID-19; new virtual programming will be announced soon.