Archive for January, 2017

On Knowing and Apocalyptic Stupidity

I realized that the topic I am currently most interested in is very topical. It is a question about hands on knowing versus book learned knowing. Many of Trump’s cabinet picks lack specific knowing of their upcoming job. For instance, Betsy DeVos has no classroom training. She has no specific degree involving education, she has a bachelor’s in business admin and political science. The difference with her might be that she is an administrator yet lacking classroom experience would suggest a lack of specific, and necessary knowledge her upcoming position. She has no experience with knowledge associated with the job. 
 
This lack of knowing appears to be the conceptual premise behind Trump’s choices. Trump’s choices are unskilled knowers. For Trump, the concept must be that their business background provides all they need to know. Or perhaps Trump’s confidence lies in his choices’ lack of cultivated knowing which would grant them some kind of child-like or neutral, outsider perspective.
 
This is a subject that interests me because I am curious about whether or not an artist truly needs training. Should artists read and research? Or should artists just approach the subject with a lack of knowing in order to bring their “maverick,” or outsider perspective? If I want to make an truly interesting painting, should I make but one? Should I just approach the painting with blunt ignorance trusting in the power of chance and luck?
Regarding education, it seems doubtful that a lack of hands on training would be a boon. I know that from experience while trying to teach linear perspective. When I taught my first drawing class I was at a loss of how best to elucidate linear perspective in the form of language. I could show how to do it by drawing on their drawing or by doing a demonstration, but the complexities of transferring an inborn knowing via language was beyond my understanding. I have the capability to just see and then draw, so I don’t really use linear perspective except to just check things after the fact.
Now I have more experience and I know how better to discuss linear perspective. It is still difficult to teach but my experience has led to more successful methods in teaching. For instance I show them videos, discuss specific experiential knowledge, and I give them demonstrations.
So on one hand this is a post about the fitness of Trump’s pics but on the other hand it is also a question about the crux of how we can know and what might be the most beneficial methods to know. It follows that knowing by doing and researching other peoples’ attempts at knowing would produce a more complete knowledge of a subject. The presence of Trump’s Gaggle of Ignorants suggests a potential zeitgeist of some kind of confidence in a lack of knowledge. Or perhaps it is a fear of knowledge. Or perhaps a fear of what knowledge does.
This is a topic I will continue exploring in the classroom, at the easel, and in upcoming workshops. The next workshop is a Joke Workshop wherein I will observe the logistics of designing comedy.

Experiments in Pedagogy

I am doing a residency at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. I will be doing several projects while here. The crux of each project pivots around learning. I learn from painting. I find that many lessons learned from painting have parallels in other disciplines.

I also teach Drawing and Design at Northern Virginia Community College. I am deeply invested in learning not only as some kind of day job, but as a world view. My “practice” as an artist revolves around the complexities of learning. To further this practice I am interested in exploring some questions that have arisen while painting and while in the classroom.

I wanted to do some experimental learning workshops and this studio, and the large Old Town tourist audience affords a great opportunity for me to dig into these ideas.

I am doing at least three such workshops. The first is a Skill Exchange.

skill-exchange-01

Skill Exchange

January 28, 2017 1-2pm (After the first workshop, I have decided to make the Skill Exchange a regular thing every Saturday, 1-2pm.

Participants are invited to collaborate in an experimental learning experience. Participants are asked to consider a skill or knowledge they believe they can teach in no more than two hours. Participants should consider the amount of space and time when conceiving of their skill. If the skill requires an unwieldy teaching reference, then participants should consider if a text or computer would be a functional representation. For instance, someone might want to teach how to skin a deer. This situation would be non-functional for the Torpedo Factory setting, however a text or youtube video could be a functional teaching tool.

Any skill or knowledge would be welcome. Possible skills might be include, but not be limited to: how to tie knots, how to choose a good avocado, the history of Pythagorean theorem, how to draw an orange, how to construct a model B-29, how to juggle, how to tie a cherry stem in one’s mouth, a pneumonic device to help remember every President of the USA, how to beatbox, how to tie an eldredge knot tie, how to calculate odds for horse racing, how to speed read, how to recognize Iambic Pentameter, how to interview well, or how to take good photos.

Joke Workshop

February 9, 2017 6-8pm

Participants are invited to bring their unfinished jokes, jokes where they have forgot the punchline, or where they only have a punchline. Then participants will try to work out how to finish the jokes.

There is a strange thing that happens when a person becomes an artist, they begin to see the potential for art in any situation. It might come from many hours looking at a thing and drawing it. I wonder if comedians have similar experiences. Do comedians see potential for humor in any situation?

How to Build a Boat When No One Knows How to Build a Boat

March 9, 2017 6-8pm

Participants are invited to engage in an experimental learning process wherein no participant has specific knowledge on the subject. Participants will assist in creating a model boat that will be launched on the Potomac River. Materials will be provided.

I want to examine the relationship between learner and teacher. I want to examine the situation of learning when the teacher is seen less as an authority regarding the subject, and more as an ally who is also learning the subject along with the student. The approach is an attempt at a more symmetrical method for learning. This process can place both learner and teacher into a single category called co-learner. The hope is that co-learners will gain agency over the learning process itself and through this agency co-learners will be more engaged with the subject.

See more at:

http://torpedofactory.org