I am not certain where I am going.
ANDRES L. HERNANDEZ / CHICAGO, IL ——————————————————-—————————————— AYANNA JOLIVET MCCLOUD / HOUSTON, TX
Moving Still: Queer Geographies, Houston and Art Education
SAXTON FISHER / HOUSTON, TX ——————————————————-—————————————— CHRISTOPHER LEE KENNEDY / BROOKLYN, NY ——————————————————-—————————————— ALEX RODRIGUEZ / HOUSTON, TX
The joyful and the forbidden
HANNAH JICKLING / VANCOUVER, BC ——————————————————-—————————————— HELEN REED / VANCOUVER, BC ——————————————————-—————————————— RUTH ROBBINS / HOUSTON, TX
Things I learned about being an artist by not being a traditional art student
JOHN PLUECKER / HOUSTON, TX ——————————————————-——————————————————————— PATRICIA VÁZQUEZ GOMEZ / MEXICO CITY / PORTLAND, OR
with/in: blurring the line between art and education
Ayanna Jolviet McCloud, Writing in the Margins Workshop at Project Row Houses in the installation, Score (How to Hold On to Chasms and Fill with Matter), 2015.
ZACHARY GRESHAM / HOUSTON, TX ——————————————————-———————————————————————
I am not certain where I am going. ANDRES L. HERNANDEZ / CHICAGO, IL ——————————————————-—————————————— AYANNA JOLIVET MCCLOUD / HOUSTON, TX
To my children and my community, who inspire and assist — perhaps understanding will surely come.
Andres L. Hernandez, At, On, Off, from the West Warren Blvd. series, 2010, archival inkjet print, 42 x 60 in.
Andres L. Hernandez, Untitled (Land of the Free), from the SiteReading series, 2011, archival inkjet print, 22 x 17 in.
Andres L. Hernandez, Untitled (Actress Plays With Children), 2015, archival inkjet print, 22 x 17 in.
I am not certain where I am going Yet I plow forward with unsteady confidence Misread as arrogance
I am not certain where you are going Yet you plow forward with unsteady confidence Misread as ignorance
If you only knew how Recurring waves of fear Crash down upon possibilities
If they only knew how Rote strategies are inherited Confusing your sense of the possible
From the rubble, I build Absent plans, but purposeful Only action is the necessary motivation
With reservation, you build Askew, but potent Insistence anchors each movement
I am not certain where I am going Yet I know I must go Stasis is an option for the luxurious
I am not certain where you are going This doubt does not escape you Pathways dissolve with hesitant steps
Can I afford stillness? Bankrupt with movement The cost of shepherding solutions
Could it be your destiny is The ambitious paver and not The cartographer of our futures?
Play, then pause. Some-thing-ness stems from Intentional absence
Sculpting the means Means more than Managing its making
I am not certain where I am going An invisible presence fills the gap Of unchartered opportunities
I am not certain where you are going Belief powers progress And faith fuels your calling
Relationships provide Soft superstructures for Constructing worlds we desire
Networked relations Suggest other than art Yet how can you create without commune?
What benefits derive from our labor? What moments have we missed in our lives? What wisdom comes from seeking these answers?
You know not The result of connecting others But are comforted by this unknown
5 Andres L. Hernandez is an artist and educator who re-imagines the environments we inhabit. Through collaborative, community-based work with youth and adults and independent, studio-based practice, he explores the potential of spaces for public dialogue, community building, and social action. Hernandez is co-founder of Revival Arts Collective, a network of citizen activists using arts and culture as a catalyst for community redevelopment in Chicago. He is an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and workshop faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
I am not certain where we are going Yet we plow forward with unsteady confidence Misread as defiance
From the remains, we build Against the grain, but polite Our attitudes mortar meaning I am not certain where we are going Together, bound by vocation: Family and community The ills of one Provide salve for the other Remember to treat problems, not symptoms Creativity is Our way beyond Above perception and conception I am not certain where we are going These travels along shifting terrain Landscapes of improbable arrivals What we exert to participate Immeasurable by earthly standards Our bodies as barometers of progress Destinations outside Our field of vision Perhaps instruments will offer us awareness?
Andres L. Hernandez, Untitled (from the Omniscient Eye series), 2013, archival inkjet print, 42â€? x 30 in.
If they only knew how Routine pessimism and apathy Constrict imaginative possibilities
Letter to my son and young creatives,
Before you can write the worlds. Embrace loss. Stand in the chasms. You may encounter violence, rage, despair. Allow it surround you,
You will have moments of complete
but not become you. Stand deep.
unrest, uncertainty and fragility.
Know your beginnings. Those before
Hold on to these spaces and pauses. They can break you. Or be the punctuation that shapes, pulls and leads you. They are the spaces, the commas, the hyphens, the semicolons.
you. That which surrounds you. Which gives you strength. Move from the circumference to the core and reverse. Occasionally embrace amnesia. Press mute. And listen.
The bridges. Give light to these
Pretend that the outline does not
shadows. Measure their width and
matter, but the insides only
dimension. There will be more. Build
your making on their foundation.
You must first write yourself.
Be your radiant self. This is for you. Craft a making that holds tight to the fragility, uncertainty, and unrest within you.
Ayanna Jolivet McCloud, detail from Score (How to Hold On to Chasms and Fill with Matter), 2015, installation (text, sound, bells), Project Row Houses.
Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud is an artist based in Houston, Texas. Her work takes on many forms including sound, writing, and painting. While minimal, her work often explores sensation, physicality, and materiality. She has participated in exhibitions and residencies throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and in the U.S. She is the founder of labotanica, which is scheduled to relaunch this year.
Moving Still: Queer Geographies, Houston and Art Education SAXTON FISHER / HOUSTON, TX ——————————————————-—————————————— CHRISTOPHER LEE KENNEDY / BROOKLYN, NY ——————————————————-—————————————— ALEX RODRIGUEZ / HOUSTON, TX
Christopher Lee Kennedy (CK): What’s been your experience of high
and many times they can be short-tempered about the
school in Texas? And I’m curious about the LGBTQ+ community. Do
smallest of things. It has driven students into hating art
you have a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at your school? Is there an
and hating to make art. It took me going to a summer
program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago to realize they were mentally and emotionally damaging.
Alex Rodriguez (AR): It’s hard to have a generalized way of
My teachers in Chicago were supportive of every idea,
describing high school in Texas, and it’s difficult for generalizing it to
said anything was possible, always helped us, joked
Houston. We attend an art school that is abnormal to Texas, but also around with us, and I felt completely relaxed with them. I not very common in Houston. It’s small, you know the majority of the guess I just wish our teachers here in Houston could have students, and it is a pretty eclectic environment.
been more open minded and relaxed with things than always feeling tense and critical. Critique is important,
The art department has presented both me and Saxton with
but so is letting artists feel comfortable with exploring
wonderful opportunities, and I’m grateful I’ve been able to use the
new aspects of visual communication.
resources I wouldn’t have had at another school. In most ways, if it wasn’t for my connection with that school I probably wouldn’t be
In terms of LGBTQIA+ stuff, it’s definitely a better
where I am now. The college prep has made applying to art school
environment than a regular public school, but there’s
very simple as well. Although we are lucky for that, the program is
still those kind of issues. Supposedly teachers are
sort of traditional when it comes to views and different kinds of art.
trained to be LGBTQIA+ friendly, meaning they know the
Our senior class seems to be the one with the most students that
terminology and use it for their students that identify
want to do all kinds of experimental things with their art, and the
within the community. Our counselor also asks for our
art department has given us a hard time about it. They put limits
permission to tell our teachers of gender identities and
on us for art, and it blocks our creativity from reaching new heights.
the pronouns we use. Although it’s a great thing they are
The department isn’t the most emotionally supportive environment,
doing not all teachers are so good about it.
Christopher Lee Kennedy, houston is still moist #1 , 2016, digital collage, 8 x 10 in.
Saxton Fisher (SF): Alex and I both go to HSPVA, the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, so we are lucky enough to be surrounded by art most of the time. I came to HSPVA as a sophomore and went to the Woodlands High School my freshman year. I have lived in The Woodlands for the past ten years and still do despite attending school in Houston. That means I have a taxing commute (the two are over an hour apart) but also that I experience these two separate and very I have a first period teacher who misgenders me everyday by saying
different environments at once. The Woodlands
“ladies and gentlemen” and “boys and girls” and I can’t help but
High School is extremely large and very cliquey;
continuously feel uncomfortable because I’m not male or female—I’m
when I was there I didn’t fit in very well, I had few
neither. My technology teacher is older, sort of oblivious, and is bad about
friends, and I was bullied. I was pretty miserable
pronouns. I gave two presentations to my class about being agender and
there. The Woodlands as a whole is similar; the
how to use my pronouns respectfully and correctly. Even after the two
majority of people here are white upper-middle-
speeches, she consistently misgenders me and my other agender pal. Our
class conservatives. When I was a freshman at
art department (which is the other half of our school life) ranges from
the Woodlands High School, any openly LGBTQ+
good to bad about it. I know hurtful things that have been said, and just
students were an extreme minority and were
in general the department is very mentally damaging.
generally treated very poorly by their classmates and others in that environment. Back then I
But Saxton and I restarted our school’s GSA and we had it up for a good
was not out, as I had barely begun the process
while. We weren’t able to do everything we wanted to accomplish, and
of starting to understand my identity, but my
it sucks because the underclassmen in the LGBTQIA+ community don’t
experiences and observations my freshman year
care to keep the club going, but once we go to college we really can’t
still shaped me a ton. Spending a large chunk of
my childhood in The Woodlands also harmed me in
a lot of other ways. It gave me a very unrealistic idea of what
in some way? Have you ever seriously considered giving up on
life is like in the “real world” and ingrained a lot of values and
your dreams of being an artist?
expectations in me I’d rather have done without. AR: Although for small periods of time and on a regular basis I Although it has not been without its (very very) massive
have felt discouraged about making art, I’ve rarely wanted to
struggles, I think that switching to HSPVA has been one of
completely detach myself from art. Personally, I felt this way a
the best decisions I have made, for a number of reasons.
lot in Junior year.
In comparison, the community here is much more open, accepting, and diverse—with LGBTQ+ people but also with
The majority of my Junior year was emotionally tough for me.
those from a wide variety of other identities, backgrounds,
My first long-term partner broke up with me on the first day of
and situations. Being exposed to the way the world actually
school, I still suffered from bullying from a particular student in
looks and functions has also been incredibly beneficial; I
our department, and I had no idea what kind of art I wanted to
imagine I’d be pretty different today if I didn’t come to HSPVA
and never stepped out of the self-enclosed bubble that is The Woodlands.
While growing as an artist, my mind was all over the place. I couldn’t decide which medium to dwell on to strengthen
Around the end of our junior year and the beginning of our
my technique. Personally, I see the benefits in trying many
senior year, Alex and I, along with one other classmate,
different mediums as well as sticking to one medium. But our
started up the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) that had
department would consistently tell me I needed to focus on one
faded away after its previous leaders graduated. I don’t think
medium, or generally one medium, and that was something I
it gained as many members or attention as we had hoped,
struggled on. I would focus on one and become disinterested
but it was still a great and rewarding experience. The LGBTQ+
soon after creating one or two pieces. I remember a series I did
community in our school definitely extends beyond the walls
about me feeling lost, and a lot of my art included my crying in
of the GSA. There are, of course, still issues here regarding
it. I wanted to give up at many times, but that only heightened
LGBTQ+ issues, but, I do strongly believe that it’s much better
my anxiety because I truly believe I’m not good at anything else.
here than in the majority of other high schools in the South.
If I quit art I would be left with nothing, and that state of mind
I think this difference can be attributed largely to the fact
drove my confidence into the ground.
that it’s an art school. The phenomenon of the arts having a relatively high concentration of LGBTQ+ people (and the
I truly believe the only way I got out of that mentality was the
acceptance of these people) is an incredible thing.
early college program I attended this past summer. I saved money to pay for my way to attend School of the Art Institute of
We spend about half our class time in our art area.
Chicago’s 4-week Advanced Projects course. The relationships
Sophomore year we took classes that were samples of
between the students and teachers were very healthy and
different mediums—painting, drawing, printmaking,
made me feel full of love and passion. The independence
photography, video, animation, mixed media, and basic
restored a part of my confidence. I will never forget the
wood construction—as well as classes in art history and
teachers. They were the most supportive, eccentric, passionate
criticism. Junior year we began to be more self-directed and
teachers I have ever met. When I realized this is what college
conceptual. We had some semi-open studio time in addition
could be like, it gave me hope that generated my motivation for
to elective classes in certain mediums—I chose performance/
the rest of year at HSPVA.
installation, general sculpture, metalworking, and textiles. By the beginning of our senior year we were expected to have
After the program, I realized I wanted a career in art—more
a more or less cohesive and coherent body of work that we
specifically, I want to become an art curator while still
didn’t stray too far from, as well as a conceptual foundation
exhibiting my own work.
and explanation for our work. In the second semester of senior year we had senior shows in the school’s small gallery.
CK: My journey into the art world was circuitous at best. I
The shows were in groups of three and were displayed for
actually studied engineering and environmental science as
a week, and we were responsible for choosing our show
an undergrad and worked for the state of New York doing
members and which pieces to show, naming the show and
stormwater permitting back in 2005. I got burnt out pretty fast
arranging its publicity, hanging the show, gallery restoration,
and realized I actually wanted to work with people and not
and all that fun stuff. Alex and I actually had our senior show
computers. I started a graduate program at NYU and made
together along with a third person in late April. It was called
up my own curriculum—basically an integration of science
HUNNYMOON and it was an amazing experience.
and art education. I lived with friends in a warehouse space in Bushwick, Brooklyn and we became a little family. This
Has there ever been a significant or extended period of time
was right around the time that social practice was having a
when you were sick of creating art, or felt it was harming you
resurgence, and we organized community-based performances
and projects—picnics, clubs, film screenings and public walks. Everything was collaborative. For a while it was a little utopia and I thought this could be the art world, or at least is was my art world. But as I got deeper into the scene, I quickly learned that art is market driven and filled with so much privilege and power. It’s not necessarily a world of ideas and freedom, but rather marketing, charisma, administration; male dominated and based on who you know. I went to openings and started working Saxton Fisher, Evacuations Underway (Deluge), 2016, digital collage with found image, 12 x 7.6 in.
as an artist assistant, but that arrangement never felt enough to me. I just wanted to make things with people that could make the world somewhat better. I guess I was a bit naive, and after a few years I decided to leave New York. Eventually I realized I was never going to make the kind of objects that galleries want or need. I hit the road for over a year and went on some vision quests. But interestingly I found I wasn’t alone. People were and still are trying to find ways to resist and work around a commodity driven art market. And I think that was comforting, but more than anything I began to find acceptance in just doing what I felt was right in my gut. To work with people, to make some messes, to ask really tough questions, to create
SF: Not being associated with art is something I’ve thought about
spaces for things to emerge, and to embrace the
frequently. Although I’m relatively young and still trying to figure
uncertainty in that process. This is art. And I’m ok
out what I want to do in this world, I think without art I would lean
towards being an oceanographer and marine conservationist. I’d live somewhere close to the coast, in a small apartment or maybe in a
So I guess I never thought about not being an artist.
house boat. I would have a lot of plants. And I’d be pretty okay mentally;
But always rethinking what an artist could or
I always imagine my mental health much better without art but that’s
probably because being an artist amidst rough circumstances has made subconsciously link art to negativity.
AR: If you couldn’t be associated with art, or couldn’t create work anymore, where do you think you would
I think my ideal(?) future has a lot of these elements in it, with some
be? Mentally? Location-wise? School-wise? What
art in there too; I just need to be in an environment where I can slowly
would your worries be?
relearn what art actually is and what it can be.
CK: I would work the land. Be a farmer. And a
CK: My question to y’all is about your relationship to Houston. What do
mother. I’ve been thinking a lot about adopting kids
you think Houston needs? What role do you think artists or educators
lately. And having a big house with a truck and a dog. play? And what is the future of Houston or any other place you’re To live a simple life intentionally. Mushroom hunting,
thinking of calling home?
making all the jams, and starting a residency for friends to come and make beautiful things.
SF: I’ve only really been a part of the Houston community for the past couple years, and my relationship with the city is still growing a
For a time I never thought that would be possible.
lot today; there’s so much here I have yet to see and experience. One
It was illegal to adopt or get married when I lived in
interesting thing about Houston is that there are little pockets here and
North Carolina so I really didn’t know what the future
there that are pretty liberal, but then you can drive maybe 10 minutes
would hold. Now being back in New York I miss the
and things are vastly different, and you’re reminded that you actually
open spaces of the Appalachian mountains but not
are in the deep south. I suppose there are a lot of other cities like this,
the sleepy towns or folk who seemed so scared of
but I’m only recently learning the real dynamics of how non-heavily-
anything different or out of place.
zoned cities work, so I’m far from an expert on these things. Though I am super super interested in cities, their layouts, their development, all
So yeah, food, dogs and babies. Sign me up!
I think the art community of Houston would benefit a lot from an art
every summer since I was 2, except for a couple
college nearby. There aren’t really any decent colleges here that are
times when we couldn’t afford it. I’m sure I’ll figure
specifically art schools, and so you see a lot of young aspiring high school
out home in the future.
graduate artists move away to attend art schools in other faraway places. Some people move back eventually, but I think some sort of
SF: How has the city where you currently live
institution here would help bridge a gap that seems to exist between
(and/or previous places) influenced your art
young artists and art spaces/practices. Programs and organizations like
making practice? In terms of subject matter,
the Art League Houston and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s Teen
Council have done great things to help with this, though. There are some really great artists/educators here, some leaning more towards artist
AR: Houston is where I’ve lived 99% of my life and
or educator, that also aid in this. People like Carrie Marie Schneider and
it’s artistic events have influenced my art making a
Patrick Renner make connections with young artists and thinkers and
lot. Since I was little, my mom would take me to the
give them opportunities to work with adult artists, be exposed to their
MFAH, CAMH, the Menil, and many other museums.
practices, and even show work alongside them.
We would also go to the art car parade and bayou art festival annually. Although many of the art
Houston and its suburbs seem to be rapidly expanding. Areas around
events I went to aren’t similar to the work I currently
the city are being absorbed and becoming a part of Houston itself, and
make they gave me an introduction to art and serve
it looks like that will probably continue in the coming decades. It also
as my foundation.
seems likely (and I certainly hope) that the city will become a greater and more self-sustainable hub for art and artists, as well as a more
At the moment, I don’t have much inspiration from
liberal place and a sort of sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community in the
Houston, but that’s most likely due to me being
center of a conservative larger area.
excited about living in a new city and studying the art I’m most interested in.
AR: I’ve lived in Houston basically my whole life, except for once when I lived in New Orleans for a year. Houston is similar to how school feels. I
A place I do draw a lot of inspiration from, and have
love my friends and family there. There are many parts of it that make
never lived in, is Stavanger, Norway. Like I explained
me happy and feel connected with an art community, but I also feel the
in a previous email, Stavanger is where my mother
need to grow somewhere else. Although, I consider it close to friends and
was born and we traveled there a lot. Growing up, I
family, it’s not exactly “home” to me. Personally, I feel like my life journey
didn’t have many friends, maybe a few really close
to figure out what feels like “home” to me. But Houston will always have
ones, but ‘hanging out’ wasn’t a usual thing for me.
a soft spot in my heart, and there are plenty of places and people I
Even though I now have a closer social group who I
regularly spend time with, the fear of being alone has grown inside me. It’s a huge fear I have, and is
I believe Houston, as a city, needs to be a more unified community. I
the root for many anxieties I have. Norway is the
think the art community helps with that, but it can’t just be artists. I
only place where I don’t feel that anxiety. Because
believe the best way to truly unify Houston is for better public transit.
of my infatuation with Norway, I’ve created many
Some of my favorite cities have very decent public transit. Like I
pieces about it, and actually plan for my next body
described to some of my friends once, Houston is like Chicago minus the
of work to be about my romanticization of Norway.
But when I leave Houston, it will probably influence my art more than I realize.
Besides transportation I believe artists and educators cater to connecting citizens in a more familial way than anyone else. It’s more difficult for
CK: So I grew up mostly in the suburbs of NYC in
educators though, due to standardized testing. My mom is an elementary North Jersey and along the shore. For a time I really school teacher, and has been a teacher for 25+ years. I seen the changes
disliked where I lived because I was surrounded by
and what the districts make schools enforce. My mom doesn’t get to
strip malls, highway infrastructure, and people who
teach as passionately as she used to. It makes it harder on the teacher
always seemed stressed and angry. But there was
and even harder on the kids. That’s definitely something else that needs
a kind of historical legacy implicit in the landscape
to be fixed; Texas testing.
of New Jersey; old houses returning to the earth, battle sites from the revolutionary war, ancient
I can’t for sure predict the future of Houston as a home. Houston
churches and bizarre in-between worlds that
changes a lot yearly, but I never know until a few years later when I
seemed out of place. I subscribed to this magazine
reflect. Honestly, my idea home isn’t clear to me yet, but there are
called Weird NJ for a long time and would follow
specific elements that I know I want to be immersed in. The only location
instructions for finding strange vortexes and
that I feel I can call home is Stavanger, Norway. That’s where my mom
haunted dwellings. Amateurish photography and
was born, and where all our family is. I’ve visited Stavanger basically
Alex Rodriguez, Turmoil, 2016, found images, 12 x 8 in.
SF: The flooding has been really strange and interesting, but something I think we are relatively used to here, at least on a less severe scale. The damage across the city has mostly died down, although my house still has a big
soggy spot on the floor and my car is still leaking. I didn’t have it bad at all though. AR: Also, luckily my unit wasn’t affected by the flooding,
When I moved to NYC in the early 2000’s, the city was still a bit
but other people I know were affected worse. My partner
gritty and cheap. Williamsburg and Bushwick weren’t a reality
got trapped in the storm and lost their glasses, and our
television show quite yet; so if felt like a lot was possible. I
friend got his car totaled because it was
started to make public art, organizing dinners and walking tours,
expeditions to the outer limits of the 5 boroughs. The term social practice was still new, and a lot of people were beginning to work
Saxton Fisher is a seventeen-year-old graduate of the
in a post-studio kind of way. And everyone I was living with was
High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He has
starting a school or community-based platform of some kind.
worked primarily in found object sculpture, sometimes
My friends Huong Ngo and Colin McMullan started this project
in combination with other materials. In the fall Saxton
called Secret School, a monthly gathering of friends and strangers
will begin attending Reed College in Portland, Oregon,
exploring methods used by the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College,
where he will likely major in Environmental Studies.
and the Highlander Folk School. Another friend Caroline Woolard
He is considering going into marine conservation
organized this project called Trade School, an alternative, self-
as well as being a practicing artist. Saxton’s other
organized school that runs on barter. The first iteration was in
interests include philosophy, mathematics, cosmology,
the Lower East Side in this tiny storefront with artists and people
oceanography, and queer activism. www.saxtonfisher.
teaching everything from Pilates in a Chair to How to Make
Butter and BAUDRILLARD CAMP. In 2009 I started this project called School of the Future with my friend Cassie Thornton. We
Christopher Lee Kennedy is a teaching artist and
transformed an underused park in North Brooklyn into an artist-
community organizer who works collaboratively with
run free school for a month, curating a series of artist projects
schools, youth and artists to create site-specific
taking the form of “classes.”
projects that investigate queer identity, radical schooling and local ecologies. These projects generate
It felt like there was this pedagogical impulse in the City at the
publications, research, performances, and ongoing
time; this need to learn how to be together, to share collective
exchanges that celebrate the collective knowledge of
knowledge, and to experiment with new forms of belonging,
a place and its forgotten histories. Kennedy was born
mutuality and exchange.
in Ocean County, New Jersey and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York as an Assistant Professor
When I moved to North Carolina in 2010, I think the City of
in Art and Design Education at Pratt Institute. www.
Greensboro really started to inform my understanding of queer
identity and how this could unfold as a material for making work and bringing people together. Although people are generally nicer
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, agender artist
in the South, there is an overall distrust of difference. So almost
Alex Rodriguez’s work, primarily in video, installation,
weekly I would experience verbal or even physical abuse—just
performance, and sculpture, explores communication
walking down the street or biking around; often just blocks from
through significant objects and memories connected
the International Civil Rights Museum. I felt a need to respond and
with a variety of personal relationships. Alex is a recent
started an LGBTQ+ youth collective at Elsewhere museum to start
graduate of the High School for the Performing and
sharing stories, and create new narratives for what it means to
Visual Arts (HSPVA) and has attended the early college
live as a queer person in the south. I think this took on a political
program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
dimension that I was kind of craving in Brooklyn, but didn’t know
(SAIC). The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
how to activate. I also think my relationship to time—embracing
employs Alex as a Teen Council member where they work
slowness, for letting things emerge and having trust in process—
on projects such as CAMH Teen Music Fest, art markets,
changed dramatically. Elsewhere was a big part of that as well—
curated exhibitions, fashion shows, film screenings, and
materiality, collaborative fictions, and modeling living systems.
poetry readings. Alex will start attending San Francisco Art Institute in the fall of 2016 for Studio Arts and New
ALSO—I’m super obsessed with flood maps, and flooding right now.
Genres. They plan to take curatorial courses to work
What’s going on in Houston with all that? Has your neighborhood
their way up to becoming an art curator as well as an
HANNAH JICKLING / VANCOUVER, BC ——————————————————-—————————————— HELEN REED / VANCOUVER, BC ——————————————————-—————————————— RUTH ROBBINS / HOUSTON, TX
Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed with Dakota, Karyl, Kurtis, Kia, Jackie and Savana, Tall Tale Postcard, 2016, digital collage, 5 x 7 in.
The joyful and the forbidden
Ruth Robbins (RR): I am thinking a lot about my identities as
build in a lot of time in our project work which allows for real
an artist and educator—more wondering about if the act of
negotiation, a longer process of (mutual) manipulation and
teaching is an art gesture? Does it matter what you teach?
the ability to arrive at desires more-or-less together (or to
Is it important that the teacher identifies as an artist? Is the
let frictions really flourish if necessary).
audience/student part of what is art? RR: I’m just returning to all the links you provided and I am Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed (HH): For the work we’re
loving the Hidden Curriculum project. I think it’s very exciting
producing/performing as artists in schools these days (namely
and crucial to think about how schools function to prepare
through our current project Big Rock Candy Mountain), we’ve
children to become workers through just disciplining their
been trying to fight off the teacher designation as much as
bodies to sit through an eight hour work day—at the most
possible. Maybe because we’re fearful it will be disregarded by
basic, and then all the rest of the codes and expectations
an art world audience, but mostly because there’s such exciting
follow from there.
potential for expanding conceptions of what an artist-inpractice looks like. We always come back to General Idea’s use
HH: Yes, the Hidden Curriculum project by Annette Krauss
of the framing device—using existing cultural forms as shells to
has been a touchstone for us—because it’s a mechanism
inhabit as artists. While the work we perform often looks like
for noticing and bypassing the insidious expectations/
teaching, we are just using this available/recognizable form to
values/behaviors of most school environments. It has also
get into places and spaces that have otherwise been scripted
been greatly influential for us because of its attention to
as/by/for education. It’s a kind of an access-pass in this way.
documentation, and the artist’s careful thinking through the ways in which participatory projects can be shared
I think that our day jobs tell a different story, though. Because
and obscured with/from audiences beyond those involved
we are hired to teach art at Vancouver’s art school, I would say
in the project’s creation. Something that we find exciting
this very much looks and feels like teaching. We don’t identify
about Annette’s work is the way that she addresses what’s
this work as part of a more autonomous, personal practice.
transmitted beyond the participant group. What we, as an
To do this would be about feeling double-triple-infinitely-
outside audience, experience of the Hidden Curriculum work
responsible for outcomes, which is a tall order when classes are
is only about 1/10th of the project. And that 1/10th is heavily
such a mixed bag of characters (and so poorly paid as non-
authored and influenced by her.
regulars). We like to pick our collaborators more carefully and
Dragon Slayer with Dragon at Wilson Montessori (Houston, TX)
cities she has lived in. Our move to integrate our
practice with the contact high of kids was similar to a conscious shift we made a few years before that – to spend more time living/making/working in the out-of-doors and in the public realm. Being around kids has been another way for us to think about sustaining our interests, health, and spirits as artists. This kind of stepping-away from the more typical draws of the art world has an important way to also sustain our place there, if that makes sense. With kids and the woods, we’ve been trying to tap into other forms of magic. RR: I came across the sticky spot you referenced in your work many times—that the artwork functions in two separate spaces and that the
RR: I don’t know how much you are affected by the crazy testing culture
audience for the artwork doesn’t really include
that we have here in the US, and specifically Texas, but it is very intense
the students/producers/performers. This is not
and it is very,very surveilled. We have long mandated trainings about how
unique to the pedagogical though. The same
to watch the children take the tests and then supervisors and auditors
issue cropped up when I was living in New Orleans
come during testing week to watch us watch the children take the test.
shortly after Hurricane Katrina and Creative Time
This year there was a debate in the Texas legislature about the length of
produced Waiting for Godot in the flooded areas
the test (4 hours!) being inappropriate for children and the response to
of the city. The play was open for several nights
this was to have us record the amount of time the children spent using the
to the public, but in the end it felt to me like the
bathroom during the testing window—because it’s not that the test is too
those of us in the audience were really performing
long, but rather that the children were wasting all that testing time. The
the role of “audience” and the real audience was
thing that really stuck with me about it was how this level of surveillance
the readership of the New York Times—the review
was being normalized for the kids. What level of surveillance will they
was on the cover of the arts section that Sunday.
tolerate as adults after experiencing this as a part of their growing-up? HH: We would say that the kids, teachers, and to HH: Wow, that testing process sounds extremely disturbing. Can’t believe
a certain extent, school administrators, parents,
the bathroom breaks are timed, very invasive and clearly missing the
practicum students, are absolutely the primary
point. In the elementary schools that we work in, four-hour exams do
audience-in-the-making of our collaborative
not exist. In fact, the curriculum in BC has just shifted towards a more
works. Even though it might be weird (annoying?)
inquiry-based model. However, the way that curriculum is delivered very
to mention Claire Bishop, this question about
much depends on the teacher. And, there are many pressures on teachers
representation relates so deeply and fraught-ly
in BC right now, with major funding cuts to education – so there are larger
to pedagogical practices, and to participatory,
class sizes, fewer classroom assistants, and less resources in general. This
performative, and socially engaged works in
probably sounds familiar to you – it seems that public education systems
general. Something helpful for us in Artificial
everywhere are being squeezed.
Hells, was her discussion about participatory art projects existing or functioning in different
RR: It’s very comfortable for me to work with children, it has always been
ways for different audiences. She makes a
my day-job go to, my first job in high school was working at an after
distinction between the primary audience as the
school center in my neighborhood. Then as I found myself becoming more
participants and artists – those who are creating
politicized and reflecting on my own experience in school. As a young
the work, while the secondary audience is the
queerling, my art practice outside of school and my art teaching felt
broader art world consisting of artists, scholars,
very much apart. I experimented with working in, for, and around the
curators, and critics and even a general public, all
school systems in the places that I lived—Chicago, New Orleans and now
of whom are external to the event itself. Suzanne
Houston. I’ve worked in art institutions doing education, I’ve worked as a
Lacy made a nice little graph of concentric circles
teaching artist, and I’ve worked for the school system as an art teacher,
illustrating this as some point as well…
which is my current position. Something that we are quite excited about is HH: Us too (in terms of a comfort working with children)! Helen has
the potential for translation between audiences
taught film and video to youth on one of BC’s gulf islands and Hannah has
of different investments and the ways in which
taught art camps and afterschool programs for many years, also, across
things might get obscured or muddled in the
process. There are excellent possibilities for rumor and myth
The collaborations (we hesitate to even use the term
making in these separations, which is how we hope Big Rock Candy
“collaboration”) that we are engaged in are messy,
Mountain might exist for those who have not been part of the
shifting, and complicated. They take place within a
process – a suggestion of an impossible place where artists and
school, so already there are many institutional limits,
children are making candy (!) in a school (!). In reality what is
rules, and power dynamics at play. We are meeting in
happening is a series of workshops, tangents, exercises, field trips,
the middle of things and are not divorced from pre-
and conversations that really only the kids and teachers are privy
existing power dynamics, complex social relationships,
too. And of course, the kids are taking these ideas up in their own
histories, etc. And, in the midst of this shifting field,
ways and circulating them in their own networks.
where we are producing work, our desires are very present. Sometimes we arrive at a format in an
RR: I think this is a really great way to resolve the question of who
improvisational process with the group we are working
is the art for and a great way to resist warping the students process
with, other times we are upfront about what form we
towards a resolution that will be legible to art audiences—just keep
hope to arrive at (a series of photographs, a chocolate
some parts of it separate. In Hidden Curriculum, Annette Krauss
bar, etc) from the very beginning. We don’t have a set
had it explicitly as secret and I love this as a way of resisting the
formula, and we’re experimenting with different ways
privilege of the art audiences verses the kids. It is such a privileged
to approach different situations. Even though the public
position to just feel entitled to have all your questions answered.
of the school is party to a much richer experience of
Your work flips it and makes it explicit that since the work is
the process than an outside audience, we feel a very
generated from the experiences of children, adults, especially
strong sense of accountability to this audience. This
those outside of the school culture, will only be able to share in so
accountability means not just showing process pictures
much. And then the idea of myth is even that more exciting. There
of children smiling, but courting weirdness in this mode
is no requirement to conduct some kind of project autopsy where
of presentation as well.
it all gets labels and laid bare, even a project that is shared with documentation-style materials isn’t required to be constrained by
What about you? You are negotiating all of these roles
as well. Do these different identities ever function as access-passes for you or would you say it’s more of a
I am curious about how you make decisions about secondary
strain to have to move between them?
documentation. Do you go into a process with an idea of the format for the sharing? Have you gotten any feedback from your
RR: Now my art and teaching practices are very separate
students on it? How do they understand the open nature of your
and it seems my subject matter for my art practice
process? In my experience, it took me a long time to help the
is lately very adult—death and strippers. My teaching
students move away from trying to solve the problem or provide me
doesn’t feel like a performance taking the form of
with the correct answer into an
teaching. Rather, it is an occupation of the teaching
space—a kind of holding open of space—within the structure of the school day. My main focus is to provide
HH: Right. We don’t believe that an audience should necessarily
a totally consensual learning environment and resist the
have total access to the process—we like the way that you put
idea that children need to be forced to learn and create
it, access to a project autopsy! There is an unfortunate trend in
a constructivist art studio for 550 children. My oldest
participatory projects of photographing people sitting in a circle
students are 14 the youngest are 3. I don’t give them
talking, or walking and talking together – but these images of
assignments but we do have deadlines for sharing. And
congeniality and consensus could be just as real or as fake as an
the 6th grade curates an end-of-year whole school art
image of a child sawing a giant candy cane in half.
show. HH: Since you mentioned it, we can’t help but wonder how you (or any of us) would creatively broach the subjects of death and strippers with kids? Just as a thought experiment? As a teacher, how do you ensure a consensual environment within the rote power dynamics
Student artwork from
of an institution? Also curious about your experience as a young queerling in school – how was that experience, and how do you negotiate queerness in the classroom now? Questions upon questions! We think about this often, as a couple of queer artists (and a queer-artist-couple) who work with teachers in classrooms. Even though we often don’t explicitly talk about queerness we feel
(HOPE) that our queerness manifests as a commitment to the weird,
The first few years they chose to organize it by subject—
messy, and illogical. At the moment we’re also trying to figure out
animals, people, homes and buildings, battles, etc. One
how to intentionally inhabit camp sensibilities with kids. Another can
time they were sorting the work into the categories
and this one curator took a stand against the category of “magical creatures” – it had dragons and unicorns
RR: I don’t explicitly talk about queerness as a subject in my teaching
and monster and also superheroes and wizards, etc.
either but I am out and my son goes to our school. I don’t want him
He suggested that this was offensive and limiting and
to ever get a wiff of any hesitation I might have about being out in
that why not put the dragons and monsters in with
public school in Texas. So that has been helpful in pushing me into
the animals and the superheroes and wizards with the
being more explicit. I feel like my pedagogy is queer, though. I try to
people? An awesome debate ensued and eventually
create a kind of openness to the unknown and be very explicit in my
the category was cancelled and the magical was
language whenever I am giving any kinds of examples or instructions.
redistributed back into real life. So that’s a moment of a
I always try to say at the end of a demonstration—and I’m sure there
queer sensibility coming through, no?
are fifty other ways of using this tool/material/technique that I am not even thinking about. So just continuously practicing this idea
HH: Certainly! This idea of redistributing the magical
that we don’t know all the ways of doing and being—that even when
back into real life seems like a great place to wrap up
we can’t think of any more choices there is also “whatever else I can’t
the conversation. It reminds us of something Robert
Filliou said, “art is what makes life more interesting than art.” These are great reminders about the
I would love to hear about camp sensibilities with kids, though. I
interdependency of supposedly disparate arenas, and
think they kind of naturally get that idea to some degree, there is
the importance for nimble movement between fields.
a playfulness at its center and this idea of trying on or borrowing identity which is very natural to kids. But that does really run up against the idea of there being two arenas of circulation. The candy images are pretty campy. My curators were really obsessed with candy this year. I think it kind of represents the joyful and forbidden for the students. The whole idea for the exhibition came from the idea of candy because it is “bad but good” and we expanded from there and eventually came up with this idea of OPPOSIGHTS—like seeing both ends of a spectrum. HH: We love what you are articulating here in terms of a queer pedagogy – the idea that there are always options/expressions that have yet to be thought of. It’s a very expansive view. Children could be considered naturally campy, although this may sound like a contradiction in terms! Spontaneous fantasies of childhood and the fluidity of moving through different play characters speak to an innate understanding of campy exaggeration and theatricality. This seems similar to what you articulate about candy, it’s “bad but good.” It’s an exciting starting point for an exhibition – please tell us more! RR: OPPOSIGHTS was this year’s whole school exhibition. Each year the annual art show is curated by a group of 6th graders – the Curators Club. They pick a title and a theme and organize the show. Every student is required to go through the process of entering work in the show—complete an artwork and write an artist statement— although they can write “do not exhibit” on the artist statement and we won’t put it up. The curators chose to organize the work in a way to best express their theme—I let them choose any structure other than age. This year they chose a set of spectrums to organize around—silence/sound, dawn/ dusk, fast/slow, create/destroy, and salty/sweet were a few.
Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling have been collaborating since 2007. Their projects take shape as public installations, social situations and events that circulate as photographs, videos, printed matter, and artists’ multiples. They are currently fascinated with the “contact high” intrinsic to collaborative work, especially in their recent projects with children. Giant vegetable growers, orienteers, lesbian separatists and therian teens also feature in their work. Helen and Hannah have exhibited and performed internationally, with both individual and collaborative work appearing in such venues as: The Portland Art Museum (OR), The Dunlop Art Gallery (SK), Smack Mellon (NY), The Yukon Arts Centre Gallery (YT), YYZ Artists’ Outlet (ON), Carleton University Art Gallery (ON), Dalhousie University Art Gallery (NS), The Vancouver Art Gallery (BC), The Power Plant (ON) and Flat Time House’s first issue of NOIT (UK). They currently teach at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. Ruth Robbins is an artist and educator currently living in Houston Texas. She holds a MA in Social Practice from California College of the Arts. Her practice currently includes images, sound and text that explore sensations of loss, embodiment, pleasure, delight and desire. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and she was commissioned to participate in dOCUMENTA13. Ruth’s most recent work ‘A Lexicon of Dusk’ can be seen at the Blaffer Museum of Art and on Tour with the exhibition Time/Image through 2017.
Things I learned about being an artist by not being a traditional art student
JOHN PLUECKER / HOUSTON, TX ——————————————————-——————————————————————— PATRICIA VÁZQUEZ GOMEZ / MEXICO CITY / PORTLAND, OR
P1. There are many ways to be an artist. You
JP1. Teaching is improvisation. Learning
don’t have to sell your work or produce in
is improvisation. Listening to what is
any specific manner to be one. The art world
happening in a room, listening to what is
is full of rules created by a very specific
happening in a space, listening to what
group of people: usually white, male and
people are saying and aren’t saying is the
upper class. I measure my ability to be an
basis for the work, when there is actually
artist not by the quantity of work I am
work to be done. Sometimes the best work
producing, but by my capacity to respond to
to do is not working. Sometimes not-
the situations I care about thoughtfully and
working is a way of working, just as not-
creatively. Art in this way is more a way of
speaking is sometimes an effective means
being and thinking, rather than an activity
or a career.
P2. I have realized that the willingness to
JP2. Humility is something that can’t
unlearn what I have learned about what art
be taught and is less valued than
is has opened possibilities to shape an art
self-projection, self-promotion or self-
practice that is closer to what I value and
aggrandizement. We were not all made to
who I am. If I had adopted the definition
be famous. Some were made to be famous;
of art as taught by art schools or art
they seem to have a certain need. Which is
institutions I would probably feel lost and/
its own kind of demon, it seems. Creative
or disempowered. It’s not easy to pave your
work attracts people who need / want / crave
own way but I prefer creating work that
/ desire attention; that is fine. Instead of
has meaning and as part of an intellectual,
workshops, we can have time for project
political, social and spiritual search rather
attention (thanks Anna Joy Springer for that
than work that is “successful” in a very
idea). But we can exchange times or periods
narrowly defined way.
for that attention. We shouldn’t always strive to be on the receiving end. We can switch things up.
P3. In engaging with a system that is
JP3. Stepping back can be another way of
constantly telling me what I am supposed
to be doing in order to be considered an artist, I take what is useful and productive and discard what is not. In this, I adhere to the idea that art is about making new rules, rather than just surrendering to imposed ones.
P4. Going to school to be an artist is only
JP4. “Don’t bring up whiteness unless
one of the ways to become one. Some of us
you’re ready to talk about it,” said a friend
had to do it to finally validate what we had
this morning over coffee. In general, one
been doing and claim the identity of artist.
should be thoughtful about when and in
I had to, mostly because of my gender and
what context to discuss issues of one’s own
class background. Others haven’t needed
privilege. There are times to be clear about
that. I still find it ironic that working class
one’s own privilege, and there are times to
folks need to go into debt in order to get the
just get the work done. Times to speak and
validation that upper class folks breathe
to listen. Time to shut the hell up.
since they are little. But that’s one more function of the dysfunctional system we live in. Art school doesn’t necessarily make good artists. And art school can be useful in the process of becoming one.
P5. I have learned the most about making
JP5. I really don’t feel like making grand
art by seeing my peers, other “emerging
statements or pronouncements right
artists” realizing their work. By getting
now. Is there something going on in the
excited about other’s work. By sharing my
astrological calendar at the moment that
ideas with others. By taking productive
makes me, a Leo, wary of pronouncements
criticism without defensiveness. And by
or statements or clarity? Clarity seems
integrating what others have done into
to efface much more than it exposes. So
my own work. Conclusion: The myth of
many clever tricks in the world. So many
originality is only that, a myth. We are
clever tricks I am playing on myself / we
constantly recycling ideas, what is new is
play on ourselves (who is that we there?).
the specific reconfiguration we are giving
When I teach, I don’t want to present
them. Second conclusion: Be humble.
pronouncements or statements or clarity, I want to invite students into the space of confusion, create a space for confusion in a world to exist without shutting it down immediately. Confusion is emotional. I feel the same about the work I make, whether “art” or “poetry” or “social practice” or “translation.” I want my confusion and my doubt and my unsureness / insecurity to grow feet and walk around the room. And those feet are always made of words.
P6. I know I am on the right track when I
JP6. Today I was listening to an interview
am able to explain to my mom what I do
with an author who mentioned how
and why it is important. Her opinion and
contemporary art has taken a turn towards
understanding is just as important as that
dematerialization, which means that much
of any curator.
contemporary artwork doesn’t ask so much for criticism as it does for fiction. I might not say fiction, but perhaps I would say it needs narrative. Dematerialized practice asks for narratives, for story, for storytelling. I agree with this.
P7. I couldn’t live without the inspiration
JP7. Patricia and I were originally asked
and stimulation I get from being in contact
to write about our work in relation to
with other artists, participating in art
education and pedagogy. Specifically,
conversations and in general, being part
the curator of this project is interested in
of the art world. But like any other social
thinking about people who blur the line
ghettos, the art world has its own set of
between art-making and teaching. It seems
artificial conventions and unspoken rules,
we are equally interested in blurring the line
many of them hard to decode for people of
between being a student and art-making.
color or working class folks. I find it more
When I teach a workshop, I try to create a
productive to engage with the art world
space where I can learn. I hope that space
on a selective basis rather than making it
of learning extends to other people. I try
the center of my life. This means spending
to be open to moments of spark, when
enough time in circles where there is an
something new is being said, when I am
active cultivation of community, solidarity
having new thoughts I hadn’t had before,
and empathy to offset the competitiveness,
because of the people present in the room.
individuality and elitism that ample sectors
In those moments, I try to slow down, to let
of the art world seem to thrive on. The same
those moments breathe.
goes for the values I apply when I teach.
P8. When working on an art project I have
JP8. What happens in exchange. What
found incredibly useful to ask myself what
happens when a person from outside of
kind of knowledge I am generating with
somewhere is in dialogue with some inside.
it. I am more interested in art as a tool
How to blur the boundaries between inside
for generating knowledge rather than art
and outside. You are coming here, Patricia;
as an activity that produces objects for
we will meet. With this dialogue, we didn’t
passive consumption. Understanding art as
so much want to present our work to one
books from the Spanish, including
a tool for the creation of knowledge makes
another. That would have been a more
Antígona González (Les Figues
it more related to education than to an
expected kind of conversation in which we
Press, 2016), Tijuana Dreaming:
institutionalized system for the circulation
would say the things we have done in the
Life and Art at the Global Border
past and comment on them in a way that
(Duke University Press, 2012). His
alludes to or demonstrates the power of
most recent chapbooks include An
the project. We would pair the conversation
Accompanying Text (She Works
with well-curated documentation photos to illustrate said power. It feels odd to do that. Artificial, but not in a productive way. But perhaps it would have been more legible. We wanted to invent a new form for our dialogue. And we ended up making these two lists.
John Pluecker is a writer, interpreter, translator and co-founder of the language justice and literary experimentation collaborative Antena. He has translated numerous
Flexible, 2015). His book of poetry and image, Ford Over, was released in 2016 from Noemi Press. Patricia Vázquez is an artist, educator and community worker originally from Mexico City and based in Portland OR. She holds BAs
P9. In blending art and education I am
JP9. Risk it all. Risk failure. Fail. At a
in Graphic Design and Education
starting to experiment with a strategy
performance a week ago, there was a talk
and a MFA in Social Practices
that consists of bringing what I want to
back in which the dialogue became highly
from Portland State University.
learn about to my projects. It’s like being a
racialized almost immediately, perhaps
student with the people I am working with.
affected by the almost exclusively black
Her practice includes a range of
In the project I am currently working, at the
(majority) and white (minority) make up
Day Laborers’ Worker Center in Portland,
of the room. I didn’t realize it at the time,
OR, and I am inviting people to teach
but it was my turn to be schooled, to (once
printmaking, screenprinting, and bread
again, constantly, over and over again)
making, a combination of things the day
realize the extent of my own ignorance.
laborers want to learn and things I want to
To realize that I was ignorant even of
movements both in content as well
learn. This allows me to also be a student
the extent of my own ignorance. I think I
as in the methodologies she uses.
in the process and to share my excitement
learned something. I also think learning
Her work has been shown at the
about new learning. Working on projects
moves a person, really moves them into
Portland Art Museum, the Reece
in which the process rather than the end
different spaces of mind and body. I am
Museum and the Autzen Gallery
product is the artwork opens up possibilities
not breathing quite the same way as I was
at Portland State University, but
for re-imagining our own roles in the
also in more accessible spaces as
work, as well as with the relationships we
media, from painting and murals to video and socially engaged art projects, and it is deeply informed by her experiences working in the immigrant rights and social justice
apartments complexes, community
establish with the people we work with.
based organizations and schools; reflecting her commitment to a practice that makes art
P10. The most useful advice somebody
JP10. Me pregunto porque terminamos
gave me about doing art: If you are going
haciendo todo el diálogo en inglés. O bueno,
to be an artist start getting used to the
ahora lxs dos hemos hecho dos listas de diez
She is the recipient of the 2013
uncertainty. Art is not about finding
cosas que queríamos decir. Y ahora, al final,
Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize
solutions, but about creating more
parece que voy a hablar un poco en español.
and has received grants from
questions. And this generative process is
Me pregunto porque decidimos hacer todo
the Regional Arts and Culture
another aspect that makes art so similar
esto en inglés. Y es más raro aún porque
Council (RACC), the Portland
nuestra conversación en Skype fue casi
Institute of Contemporary Art
100% en español, si mal no recuerdo. Bueno,
(PICA), Portland’s Jade and
por lo menos, aquí al final, se menciona.
available to diverse audiences.
Midway Districts and the Oregon Community Foundation.
with/in: blurring the line between art and education ZACHARY GRESHAM / HOUSTON, TX ——————————————————-———————————————————————
with/in: blurring the line between art and education aims to challenge the dichotomy of physical and conceptual space while exploring socially engaged work centered on pedagogy to incite individual/communal action, response, contemplation, resistance. with/in employs both an exhibition and a publication to examine the process, practice, and identity of socially engaged artists who blur the lines between art and pedagogy. The exhibition presents the work of Andres L. Hernandez, Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed, Christopher Lee Kennedy, and Patricia Vázquez, all artists who utilize education as a medium in their work. The publication shows their work alongside Houston artists Saxton Fisher, Ayanna Jolivet McCloud, John Pluecker, Ruth Robbins, and Alex Rodriguez. As an arts administrator, I cannot help but identify the divide between the audience that engages with an organization’s exhibitions and those participating in its education programs. This is not uncommon, and with/in uses these two spaces to introduce artists who work within this chasm. The artists included are radically redefining and reimagining what art education can be—often in stark contrast to the public perception of visual art instruction.
Over time I have cultivated mental notes of artists who engage in this conversation of art / education with unique methods of contribution, investigation, and resistance. Whether their work is situated in schools, in the community, or in relation to other education institutions, each of these artists takes a unique stance on how they integrate ideas, models, and/or theories of education into their art practice. It seems fitting â€” intuitive â€” that this project would emerge from these overlays in the venn diagram of thoughts on art, education, and art and education. The publication is neither extension nor accompaniment but rather a continuation of the exhibition that lends the textual format as means of relating the work of the exhibiting artists to that of Houston artists. The Houston arts community is comprised of many individuals who have challenged the standards of education by blurring the distinction between art and education. By exhibiting work from both groups in this publication, with/in localizes and globalizes the dialogueâ€”engaging, inspiring, and mobilizing the Houston audience to reconsider the place of and distinction between both art and education.
23 Zachary Gresham is the organizer for with/in: blurring the line between art and education and is an arts administrator and educator who currently serves as Education Programs Director at Art League Houston. Zachary holds a BA from Lamar University, and completed his MA in Arts Leadership and M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction - Art Education from the University of Houston. He is an adjunct lecturer in the College of Education and the College of the Arts at The University of Houston, where he currently teaches Art in Elementary Schools, an art education course for upper-level education majors and Technology in the Arts, a graduate seminar in the MA in Arts Leadership program.
Thank you to each of the artists / educators that contributed to this project. Special thanks, also, to Roby Fitzhenry (Always Creative), Kendall Tooker, Clara Kang, and the board and staff at Art League Houston for their support of this project.
The mission of Art League Houston is to connect the community through diverse, dynamic, and creative experiences that bring people together to see, make, and talk about contemporary visual art. The Art League is funded in part by Houston Endowment, Inc., The Brown Foundation, Inc., the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, Mrs. Katherine McGovern, and the John P. McGovern Foundation.
This exhibition and publication is funded through the generous support of Bill Arning, Jan Cato Gwen Goffe, Terri Golas, Carrie Markello, Crystal and Don Owens, and Teresa Southwell.
“Waking Up in the Morning,” Clara, 10, from OPPOSIGHTS exhibition
O RG A N I Z E D BY Z AC H A RY G R E S H A M | P R I N T D E S I G N BY RO BY F I T Z H E N RY
Art League Houston August 5 â€“ September 17, 2016
with/in: blurring the line between art and education was an exhibition organized by Art League Houston’s Education Programs Director, Zachar...
Published on Aug 13, 2016
with/in: blurring the line between art and education was an exhibition organized by Art League Houston’s Education Programs Director, Zachar...