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After dividing into two groups, we took turns sharing our research about the artists. Some teachers presented information about the work on view in the galleries while others shared biographical information about the artists. In my group, one teacher talked about her fascination with Mike Kelley’s body of work, his inspiration, and his film in this Biennial titled Mobile Homestead. She spoke about how she incorporated Kelly’s particular sense of place into her teaching.
In addition to our conversations about various artists in the Biennial, a few of us also discussed our positive experiences with the Whitney’s school group tours. I had recently brought my eleventh-grade class to the Museum for a guided tour. My class was led through the galleries before they opened to the public, a privilege I have grown accustomed to as a Teacher Exchange participant. The conversation revolved around the theme of Artist as Critic, which connected seamlessly with our classroom curriculum. My class loved looking at K8 Hardy’s photographs and they were intrigued by Sam Lewitt’s use of ferrofluid in his constantly changing installation, Fluid Employment. I had introduced my students to LaToya Ruby Frazier’s work prior to the Museum visit so they were thrilled to see the real photographs in the galleries! The discussion in the classroom helped them delve deeper into Frazier’s political commentary during the guided tour with a Museum educator.
It is hard to believe that we are almost our last Teacher Exchange meeting! We will be ending the program next month with presentations by each participant. I look forward to seeing how the Whitney, the artists, and the works of art inspired curriculum and teaching in my colleagues’ classrooms.
By Kiara Downey, a participant in the Whitney’s Teacher Exchange program.
Downey teaches English Literature and Drama at The United Nations International School.