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Teaching with Community

by Miranda BestJanuary 15, 2020 1:55:03 total runtime

Artists are often portrayed as solitary creators, working in the isolation of their studios. While independent work and reflective thought are vital to many artists’ work, collaboration, connection, and community are essential to most artists’ practices. Sometimes community inspires the work, other times community is created through the work itself. Often the work is a result of both.

As a high school art teacher, helping my students recognize, reflect upon, and celebrate the circles of support that surround them can be affirming. I started our “Community” unit by viewing several examples of artwork by Judith Scott and Dan Miller, who are a part of the Creative Growth Art Center. Then students watched films about Robin Rhode and Kerry James Marshall. Upon viewing the different Art21 films, engaging in dialogue with their classmates, and collecting images and photographs from the communities of their choosing, students set out to make their original community paintings. Each student chose to represent the sense of belonging in their own way. Maddie focused on her awakening political engagement, Emmy depicted an early-morning workout with the swim team, and Jeannie painted a celebration of her cultural heritage. Within the community of our classroom, each student was able to create a painting about the importance of belonging to something bigger than themselves.

This playlist incorporates many of the videos I presented to my students to inform our “Community” unit and inspire their artwork. The artists in this playlist find inspiration through their connections with communities, give their experiences shape and form, and imagine new possibilities of rehabilitation and growth. Working with groups that have been traditionally underrepresented, misrepresented, or ignored completely, the videos in this playlist remind us of the strength and significance of group bonds.

Read how Miranda teaches with this playlist in her classroom.

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