Teaching in the Museum

In my courses, students investigate what art does and what art can do. My goal is to expose art’s power to change the way we perceive the world, and consequently how we live in it. I encourage students to look closely at other artists’ work, and to make work that reflects an understanding of the world and their place in it.

Interpretive Experience: Kinesthetic Learning in the Portland Art Museum

The  interpretive experience assignment was derived from MoMA’s online DRAFT , students acted as “interpretation artists” whose challenge was to create an experience with a specific object in the museum to help others better understand it. They developed a close relationship with their subject, explored it through their own ‘lens,’ then researched it within a non-art historical cultural framework. Students’ interpretations went beyond sharing information about the artwork, to experimenting with a concept and guiding others interpretive experiences in the gallery.

Portland State University, Molalla High School, and the Portland Art Museum

Portland Art Museum’s 2016-17 College School Guide and Peer-to-Peer Mentor Program brought together fifty Portland State University (PSU) freshmen and twenty Molalla High School (MHS) students.

During fall term, PSU Work of Art and MHS students both spent time examining art in the Portland Art Museum. PSU students also learned about museum professions from Curatorial, Collections, and Education staff at the Museum.

During the winter term, PSU Work of Art students served as interpretive guides for groups of PSU and MHS students at the Portland Art Museum. The PSU students then visited MHS, where students taught them how to make screen prints.

PSU Work of Art students made silkscreen prints in response to artwork in the Constructing Identity exhibition. In keeping with the collaborative spirit of the Peer-to-Peer Project, PSU included Molalla High School students’ artwork in their on-campus exhibition.

We spent a day together at the Portland Art Museum and the PSU campus. Students walked through the Constructing Identity: Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art in small groups, then ate lunch and toured the PSU campus. PSU Advising and Career Services provided the last workshop of the day.

Everyone watched Chimamanda Adichie’s 2009 TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” before visiting Constructing Identity. In her talk, Adichie describes how because single stories are “incomplete,” they create stereotypes making one story “the only story.” She says that we “regain a kind of paradise” by rejecting single stories. The Peer-to-Peer project forced each of us to rethink various single stories–about high school, college, rural and urban cultures, museums, and how we learn.