Laurie Anderson last Week, Sarah Lewis This week, the Inclusive Classroom and Mental Health

Last week I watched Laurie Anderson’s first lecture (although she resisted that label) for Harvard’s Norton Lectures. She will be giving 6 in all over the course of 2021. The second lecture will take place on March 24 and I would really encourage you to sign up. She touches on so much –and does what I’ve hoped to do (well duh– Laurie Anderson does what I hope to do…) — She at once acknowledges the gravity and loss and suffering of the moment, the inequity and the trauma, but at the end I felt that she was speaking to artists reminding us that “dealing creatively with limitations is what we do well”. There is so much from the past eleven months that have shown this– she ended by saying that it was an exciting time to be alive, like the proverb that I told my children after Trump was elected, “May you live in interesting times”.

This week: ASU School of Art JEDI lecture series will host Sarah Lewis this Thursday February 18 at 4PM (Arizona Time) 6PM Eastern Time.

John Anne and I are all crazy busy right now– like so many of you. But we also realize how important it is to keep these connections and conversations going as we approach the 1 year– geez–one year anniversary of, it doesn’t even really have a name or an exact date–but that time during March of 2020 when our lives changed.  We are all in some ways waiting for things to get back to something, but I think everyone knows there is no going back so the conversations have gradually been shifting towards addressing more long term issues that will continue beyond the pandemic. As John, Anne, Becky and I negotiate launching the 2020 All Star Cards Kickstarter campaign, I am aware of how time has moved forward and how it hasn’t. We are also realizing that the Class of 2021 is also facing a compromised and different spring semester of their senior year– their whole final year of college or even for some more than half their graduate school experience, is radically different from what they expected. So first, we are thinking about that, about the difference between the emergency situation for last spring, and the much more long term adjustments and changes that we are all facing now–and yet, and still, I for one find it both difficult and inevitable to try to plan for something a bit more normal.

I wanted to blog here to highlight the upcoming Kickstarter launch for the cards, to get people ready for our idea for the Class of 2021, and to highlight some of the recent and upcoming FotoFika sessions as well as highlight some other related conversations.

Two weeks ago FotoFika hosted Annu Palakunnathu Matthew and Max Kandhola in discussion about expanding the canon and really examining what we need to consider as we make our classrooms and our field inclusive of all experiences and perspectives, particularly in relation to ethnicity and race. A discussion which barely begins to scratch the surface and something that is not easy, especially for those of us who have made our way, who have established a way of being in the world, who stand in front of a classroom and get authority from our educations and tenure– This conversation that they graciously agreed to help us start by bringing us into their experiences and lessons  started by asking people to examine and be willing to reinvent–must continue.  And we must be willing to constantly examine what we think we know, from methods of teaching, to the set of slides we show, to how hard we work to correctly pronounce unfamiliar names to how we gain our authority. It is not easy. And some of us will have to give up power so that we can fairly share it.  Opening up places to talk about it and being willing to question what we think we know is essential. And not easy. Much more to come on this topic.

This week we will take a slight, but related turn and discuss mental health in the classroom, in academia and in art. Like all college educators, we have students at a particularly vulnerable point in their lives during a particularly difficult moment in history and this has exponentially increased the stakes for our behavior in the class room and our responsiveness. As we all know the art classroom is not like a science classroom. Tangents are at the core of the experience and fluid boundaries are often the point. Subject matter weaves itself in and out of our personal lives and our work. Many of us take pride in nurturing openness and expression of the inarticulable, dark and painful.  Its not all Covid related– but somehow it for me at least seems overwhelmingly intense– and I am someone who thrives on intensity. How do we talk about this? How do we take care of our students–what are the resources for the students? What are limits of our responsibilities? And how do we pay attention to our own mental health? This Wednesday we welcome Marianna Chiokan as we begin to address these questions and more on FotoFika.

We really hope to see you this Wednesday  at 4PM (EST) and stay tuned for our All Star Cards Kickstarter Launch!



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