I'm currently taking a class at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) called "Experimental Printmaking." It's taught by a mixed media artist named Katerina Lanfranco. It's an eight-week class and each Monday we meet to make art and spend time in the galleries. We are four weeks into class and I thought I'd share some thoughts about the experience.
1. This class hits all the marks.
I love taking classes. Being a student is one of life's great luxuries. And I try to take advantage of it by taking classes all the time -- some in-person and some online, but I'm always taking classes. It's true that I like learning new skills, but I feel like that's the least of it for me. I love:
- The nuturing. Being a student is all about being encouraged. I enjoy sitting back and allowing someone else to take me on a journey.
- The different ways we all do the same things. Even though many of the techniques or ideas in the classes I take aren't new to me, I learn something from the ways they are used or in the different ways that different people get to the same result.
- The camaraderie. Learning together, struggling together, sharing tips -- I adore the bonds that are created in class.
- The pop of inspiration. Class is so much more than just "learning a skill." My favorite moments are when a fellow student or a teacher awakens an idea inside of me.
I've taken some dud classes that didn't hit any of the four points above. But this class, I am thankful to say, is not one of them. Katerina is a generous teacher and each Monday I come away from class able to check off all four points from the list above.
2. Being in the museum after hours is just awesome.
There's no other way to say it. Last Thursday I went to MoMA and had to fight the crowds to see anything. On Monday I sat in front of a print for a quiet half-an-hour and copied a section of a print (the original print is by Otto Dix).
Undisturbed -- like my own private museum.
Here's a peek at all the abandoned stools and drawing boards. Before committing to a spot, we left them sitting in the gallery as we explored.
One of the most fun after hours sights I encountered was the security guard mimicking the movements of the Maneki Neko (or Japanese waving cat):
3. I get a private (& practical) tour each Monday.
Each time we tour a gallery Katerina talks to us about what we're seeing, the history behind it, some popular criticism of it, and encourages us to voice our own reactions to it. She also discusses methodology -- how did the artist create that print? What techniques were used here and why? How would the impact be different if the artist had painted instead of printed?
I love every moment of it. It has given me a whole new appreciation of contemporary art.
4. I am being confronted by the intersection of art and craft.
I could write a book. I'm sure many books, many PhD theses, many treatises have been written on this subject. I will therefore keep it brief:
- Virtually every technique that we have been taught in class is one that I have already explored through my crafty endeavors. Ex: altered books, image transfers, stamp carving, Photoshop, collage, etc.
- Every single one of these techniques is seen hanging on the walls or in the exhibit cases of MoMA.
- This has forced me to really think about why one thing is craft and another art?
- My current conclusion is as follows: Scale, intellectual content, and intent separate contemporary art from craft.
5. I'm waiting to see how this class affects my art.
I am exploring and musing and very much wrapped up in all I've seen and done. But I don't think anything from class has yet trickled through to my every day art making. Though, you never know. Sometimes it's such a slow evolution that you don't see it along the way. Nevertheless, I find myself eagerly awaiting Monday nights. I guess only time will tell what the influence has been.
6. I'm definitely a hands-on learner.
I've taken non-studio art classes at MoMA before. And I didn't enjoy them nearly as much as this class. More than that I didn't retain any of the art history. But with this class I can practically quote back everything that's ever been said about each piece of art. I think it's because I'm a hand-on kind of learner. I need that practical aspect for the information to sink in. I still remember being in biology class in high school and it wasn't until we made models of cells that I actually remembered what all the parts were and how they worked together. I need that hands on aspect. The rhythm of this class is perfect for my learning style: brief lecture or demonstration, visit to the galleries, studio time. I only wish class were longer!
7. Before I go I thought I'd share a few images of what we've been up to.
The classroom is in the education portion of MoMA. You have to go down a long staircase.
If you can spy the lady in red, that's our classroom.
Art I've loved seeing:
Art I've loved making:
So far it has been a delightful four weeks! I'll be sure to report back at the end of class!
Thanks for stopping by!