Archive for the ‘ pedagogy ’ Category

How Long Can You Beat a Dead Horse?

The Joke Workshop was interesting. Participants were two comedians, Christine Ferrera and Ben O’Brien.

I think I gained a leg up on my understanding of theory versus practice. I have been trying to write my way through the topic. I wanted to see if there were parallels between designing jokes and designing art. I wanted to see if these things could enter the classroom and help me affect the situation of co-learning in a more meaningful way.

In essence, I want to be a better teacher. I have observed that students know more than they have been led to believe and they know more than they are willing to believe. There are many issues that create this situation but I think it is due to how they have learned their entire lives and due to the unfortunate result of modernist activities driving people away from art.

I think it would be helpful to foreground this situation to them earlier rather than later. I think many students could gain quite a lot from taking agency with their own education. I think that elucidating that they know more than they thought would be helpful. With all that in mind, I embarked upon this experiment between art and comedy.

During the workshop we discussed Chris’ jokes. Chris and Ben jumped in with their practiced knowledge whereas I felt a bit bewildered. I didn’t really have too much access because they were digging into subtleties and I am not a stage performer nor a comedian.

We then looked at images from the New Yorker’s Caption Contest. We bounced around some ideas but landed on a topic Chris previously discussed with me: writing versus performing. They are different animals. Perhaps similar to how many visual artists find difficulty in writing about their work. There is a linguistic issue here. During this portion, Chris suggested that dealing with the caption contest might require a certain kind of skill set, and she suggested having improv actors to assist. So I might create a workshop were I interact with improv folks.

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a recent caption contest image from the New Yorker. The winning caption was, “Long time no sea.”

We finished with looking at some art historical paintings as well as art history memes. We bounced around some ideas but the same kind of issues with the New Yorker caption contest arose with the art historical images.

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a detail from a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. A possible caption: MFW a Trump voter says, “we don’t need no Obama health and dental care!”

I think there might be some future activities that could bounce off the workshop, like some kind of tweet writing workshop. Maybe it would be a podcast or a video. I think the purpose would be an intersection between comedy and pedagogy.

One of the collaborators, Ben O’Brien, discussed networking jokes through fiverr. I often overwork paintings to the point where I call them kitchen sink paintings – they include all my painting ideas and the kitchen sink. I overwork them because I don’t know when to stop. I overpaint because I doubt my own knowledge. My doubt takes the form of erasing the previous painting over and over. Networking the joke over and over might function in the same way. Maybe overworking the joke would cause it to fall apart. How long can you beat a dead horse?

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Asking the question, “How long can you beat a dead horse?” Apparently the answer is, indefinitely. 

Another thought I had is perhaps there is a major difference between comedy and art: efficiency or function. Essentially, the joke needs to be funny or its purpose is thwarted. However, the art gesture/object need not have any purpose other than its making. There might not even need to be an object. There is “process art” but is there “process comedy?” Is there a point where comedy is the thing itself? I need to research theatre and comedy.

Continuing this thought, I was once offered a skateboard to use as a painting surface but there was the stipulation that it still be ridable. The efficiency of form influenced the content. I never did make that painting because it felt like some kind of external demand that had nothing to do with painting. If I made that skateboard painting I would have just been designing. However, in retrospect I was completely misguided because I have been designing around the “edge” of the painting for years.

I have been making paintings that are aware of the end of the painting in order to foreground that inconsistent modernist convention of the painting as a window. Form and content do not exist solely within the painting. The painting is not a universe. The painting hangs on a wall that exists in some kind of institution. That institution has its own values and thusly those values influence the painting and the viewing of that painting. There is no such thing as four neutral walls. The point is, I think there is no distance between form and content. I think this is a central tenant in my world view.

A good example of this pressing against the edge can be seen at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn right now. The show, Introductions 2017 was curated by Julie Torres and is up through February 19.

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from Katerina Lanfranco’s instagram: A Many One Layer Lie, second from the left, at Trestle Gallery.

But my world view might be completely bat shit crazy. Further research into comedy might help me ride the horse off into the sunset rather than into a lake.

See more of Christine and Ben at their websites

http://www.christineferrera.net

http://benobrien.net

And check out Trestle Gallery at

http://www.trestlegallery.org

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Metal Jesus

Is there an intersection between art and comedy?

Metal Jesus is pretty funny.

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A forgetful hoplite is funny.

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What the hell is going on with humor and art? Come by the Torpedo Factory tonight and help me figure that out.

The Joke Workshop is a free event taking place at 5-7 in Studio 12.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/post-graduate-studio-jay-hendrick-joke-workshop-tickets-31768059120

 

 

Interlocuting Art and Comedy

My Joke Workshop begins 5-7pm this Thursday, February 9.

Participants are invited to assist in an exploration of both humor and learning with the purpose of finding parallels between humor and art. The workshop will be led by Post Graduate Torpedo Factory Resident,  Jay Hendrick and performance artist and comedian, Christine Ferrera.

Participants are invited to share in three prompted activities. The first activity invites contributors to bring their jokes that need work. It might be that the jokes require better phrasing, timing, or delivery. It might be that the jokes lack a punch line or perhaps there is only a punch line.

The second activity is a caption contest with visual prompts. Participants are invited to work together to create funny captions for pictures. Similar to the New Yorker’s caption contest.

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an early attempt creating a caption contest drawing

Finally, participants are invited to caption famous works of art.

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“Who put that dirty dish rag on the wall?!”

Cohosting with me is Christine Ferrera.

Christine Ferrera is an American triathlete, comedian and mother of eight (goldfish). She performs darkly absurd stand-up in clubs, conference rooms and crawl spaces internationally and has appeared as a peripheral character in several Nora Ephron films in her mind. Ferrera recently self-published a book about her decade-long correspondence with Starbucks Coffee Company titled, Starbux Diary: My 10-year Journey to Caffeinated Enlightenment, which was included in City Paper’s Top Ten Baltimore Books of 2015 and described as “Hilariously personal.” She has performed at the Pittsburgh Comedy Festival, Cleveland Comedy Festival, Chicago Women’s Funny Festival and will be featured on Wham City Comedy’s spring tour. She lives and works and eats and prays and loves in Baltimore, USA.

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Christine Ferrera pondering the mysterious universe

See more of her work at:

http://www.christineferrera.net

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I am still working out what I am trying to attain, but the following describes the motivations for this workshop.

I teach art classes and one of the issues I encounter is that students believe they do not have access to art. However, they consistently show me that they do have access to art though often they lack a vocabulary to discuss it. For instance, I show them a bottom heavy design and they recognize that the design has something wrong with it. They recognize that the bottom heavy design pulls the eyes down. They may not a cultivated language to address the design, but they have some ability to see when something is askew.

If these students have more access to art than they perceived then I want find methods to make them aware of this. I am trying help them see that they have access to art thereby allowing them to set aside preconceived notions about the necessity of talent, skill, or book knowledge. These preconceived notions slow down the process of confidence in making. If a learner can recognize early in the process that they do have access to art, then they can develop habits that contribute to future successes in thinking and working.

Thusly I seek other areas of interest to parallel with art. For instance, I ask them to discuss their likes and dislikes of food. I think the design of food is a good analogy for design in art. We understand why we like or dislike certain foods. I think this understanding is a counter to the situation wherein a learner does not believe they have access to art. I think that this situation could also be examined through comedy.

We know what we think is funny. We have access to the design of comedy. I am curious if joke design can be analogous to visual design. I am curious about the logistics of the joke. I am also curious about situations that lend themselves to successful design of jokes and if those situations are similar to what occurs with art.

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?

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.

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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