I took a two-week hiatus from my internship at AAMP, due to some reasons that I’m not going to specify, but it’s not difficult to figure out what’s going on. I needed some time to put in extra hours at NMAJH, rest, wrestle with my feelings, and maybe try to actually do some laundry. (Which I did! Finally!)
But I returned yesterday, not having missed too much, ready to dig into AAMP’s special exhibition, PhilAesthetic. We’ve mainly been working on developing workshops – activities with students relating to the exhibition that can happen outside of, or following, a tour. The other interns came up with really great ideas, such as diving into specific art methods or looking at paintings through unexpected lens.
My workshop is an effort to explore the multi-genre nature of the Black Arts Movement. At the time, curators and critics restricted Black artists from their museums and galleries, often claiming that white artists were simply more talented. In order to increase access and reach their audiences, many artists within the Black Arts Movement would spread across different genres, including poetry and music. Art became performative, with some artists even bringing their work to the street corner in their neighborhood for everyone to experience.
At the same time, artists associated with the Black Arts Movement did not necessarily move in the same direction; it was a conversation or even a debate, with artists having wildly different opinions to a number of questions. What does a Black aesthetic look like? Do Black artists even need to exhibit a Black aesthetic? What role does Pan-Africanism play? Violence against white supremacy?
My workshop then would explore both themes of multi-genre art and the non-conformity of opinion within the Black Arts Movement. It would start with a discussion of these two topics, and then introduce a prominent non-visual artists of the Black Arts Movement, such as poet Nikki Giovanni. The workshop facilitator would then read aloud one of her poems (maybe “Always There Are the Children,” “Knoxville, Tennessee,” “Nikki-Rosa,” or “Revolutionary Dreams”…). Once, for students to listen and maybe ask about any new words, and then again, for the main activity: while the poem is being read, students can draw their interpretation of the poem. What they imagine, what they feel, something representational, something abstract, whatever calls to them. Students could then share what they drew and why.
(Well, it’s a work in progress…)
I have really been enjoying finding new ways to engage with a topic while on a tour. Museum education trends in general have been moving towards interactive, engaging, non-lectures, which is fantastic, but there are times when we need to move beyond talking in general. Personal, relevant, enriching discussions is so great at times, but too often I’ll have students on a tour that refuse to talk, no matter what I do. (Which I understand, since I was 100% that student in school!) Finding these alternate activities – touching a replica, creating a tableau vivant, drawing a picture, these are all ways to get even those quiet students to participate. It’s all about changing up learning strategies, to give students something unique, meaningful, and fun!
And, since I’ve been forgetting…..
Hours this week: 15
Hours so far: 37.5