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I am not certain where I am going.

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ANDRES L. HERNANDEZ / CHICAGO, IL ——————————————————-—————————————— AYANNA JOLIVET MCCLOUD / HOUSTON, TX

Moving Still: Queer Geographies, Houston and Art Education

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SAXTON FISHER / HOUSTON, TX ——————————————————-—————————————— CHRISTOPHER LEE KENNEDY / BROOKLYN, NY ——————————————————-—————————————— ALEX RODRIGUEZ / HOUSTON, TX

The joyful and the forbidden

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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

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JOHN PLUECKER / HOUSTON, TX ——————————————————-——————————————————————— PATRICIA VÁZQUEZ GOMEZ / MEXICO CITY / PORTLAND, OR

with/in: blurring the line between art and education

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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.

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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, 42� 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

have weight.

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.


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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

art program?

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.

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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

control that.

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

make.

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


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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

with it.

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

should be.

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!

of that.


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

inspiration, etc?

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

will miss.

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.

good transportation.

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

drawings followed.


Alex Rodriguez, Turmoil, 2016, found images, 12 x 8 in.

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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,

completely underwater.

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

wix.com/portfolio

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

christopherleekennedy.com

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

been flooded?

exhibiting artist.


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)

15

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

the truth.

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

exploration mindset.

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

OPPOSIGHTS exhibition

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


17

(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

of worms.

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

think of.”

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


19

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

of communication.

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

stepping forward.

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.


21

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

of commodities.

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

breathing before.

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

to education.

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 ——————————————————-———————————————————————


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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 — intuitive — 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 dialogue—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

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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 – September 17, 2016

Profile for zegresham

with/in: exchanges in process practice and identity  

with/in: blurring the line between art and education was an exhibition organized by Art League Houston’s Education Programs Director, Zachar...

with/in: exchanges in process practice and identity  

with/in: blurring the line between art and education was an exhibition organized by Art League Houston’s Education Programs Director, Zachar...

Profile for zegresham
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