The 2012 National Art Education Association (NAEA) annual conference was held in New York from February 29−March 4. The conference brings together artists and arts educators from around the country, offering a forum for the exchange of ideas as well as numerous opportunities for professional development, with the ultimate goal of improving visual arts instruction in American schools and museums. Several members of the Whitney Education staff gave presentations and organized workshops for colleagues from around the country. Participation at these professional conferences keeps Whitney staff apprised of new developments and best practices and establishes Whitney Education as a national leader in the field.
The preconference day gave colleagues the opportunity to focus on learning in the Digital Age. Through panels, presentations, and interactive workshops, attendees discussed how new technology and social media have transformed the process and methods of learning, and considered the resulting implications for art museums and arts educators. Education staff Heather Maxson, Stina Puotinen, Ai Wee Seow, and Gene McHugh facilitated a workshop titled “Making Artists’ Processes and Perspectives Accessible to Diverse Audiences.” Leading a discussion of how museums can use technology to communicate information about the artistic process, they illustrated the wide range of technological innovations now employed as a complement to the Whitney’s collection and special exhibitions. McHugh showed two of the videos made for Biennial 2012, each featuring an exhibiting artist and their work.
Though they noted the challenges of integrating innovations such as iPads into galleries without detracting from the experience or the objects, the Whitney educators shared some of their more successful experiments with technology. When at the last minute, multi-media artist Cory Arcangel was unable to attend an event for families planned in conjunction with his summer 2011 exhibition at the Whitney Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools, staff members suggested that the artist Skype with the event’s attendees. Given his extensive work with digital media, Arcangel loved the idea. The staff designated an hour during the event when kids and families could live chat with the artist on a computer. The conversations were then projected live, so families coming in could see and hear what was going on. The relationship between young visitors and digital technology was further discussed in another preconference presentation by Dina Helal and Desi Gonzalez. Leading “For Kids: Designing Online Resources for Artists Ages 8-12,” Helal and Gonzalez discussed the process of developing and managing online resources for kids and the challenges of building an online peer community among children.
The four-day conference from March 1-4 provided the opportunity for additional presentations on Whitney Education programs serving families, senior citizens, visitors with special needs, and students of all ages. Department director Kathryn Potts presented on a panel entitled “Museum Educators and Effective Leadership: Strategies for Collaboration and Communication” that focused on strengthening skills to enable effective work with a range of colleagues and departments. In another session on teaching the arts to students with disabilities, Danielle Linzer, Manager of Access and Community Programs, discussed the verbal description and tour tours for children with visual impairments as led by teenagers from the Whitney’s Youth Insights program. Linzer suggested that this unique exchange teaches social and communication skills, fosters creative expression, and exposes all of the young participants to real life experiences.
More information on NAEA programs and upcoming conferences
By: Elizabeth Pisano, Education Intern