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Teaching with Love and Loss

by Ty TalbotFebruary 12, 2020 1:34:30 total runtime

“The relationship doesn’t really end; it just changes,” says Bryan Zanisnik, as he recalls his mother’s passing and the connection he still feels with her. For millennia, artists have explored notions of love and loss, and contemporary artists translate experiences of human connection through complex personal and social lenses. Exploring the emotional glue that binds the broken pieces of ourselves together, these artists investigate how intimacy and human bonds reveal the best of human nature, even in the face of heartbreak and change.

For example, in the Extended Play episode, “Rubbing/Loving,” Do Ho Suh uses performance-based visual art as an entry point to exploring place, memory, and the loving relationship forged between friends. In my classes, I use this video to inspire students to not only think more broadly about drawing and sculpture but also consider how interior, emotional spaces can be manifested in what they make. Near the end of the semester, I use this video, as well as the one featuring the Creative Growth Art Center, as a jumping-off point for a larger unit about love. In this unit, students can choose from a wide range of tasks directed toward inspiring empathy and caring. One student, Karsyn, painted a portrait of a family member facing Alzheimer’s disease; another, Eleanor, created a loving portrait of her sister while a third student tried to capture a friend’s sense of loss when her brother left home for the first time.

This playlist features several of the artists who I use as exemplars not just for making beautiful art but also for addressing love and loss through vulnerability, connection, and self-discovery. I tell my students repeatedly, “What you make is a direct manifestation of who you are.” The videos in this playlist show artists of all kinds manifesting themselves through expressions of love and loss.


Read how Ty teaches with this playlist in his classroom.