In my classes, students are encouraged to examine their present perspective and develop new levels of self-awareness. We look at how physical characteristics influence how we perceive the world around us. We examine cultural perspectives to broaden our understanding of art that we make and observe. We seek to understand our own individual cultural characteristics from a new perspective in order to communicate more clearly through our own work. The ability of a student to recognize aspects and values of his/her native culture is an important step in communicating through art.
As students re-examine their own assumptions, I actively work to expose them to new cultural perspectives. Through art, my classes examine a variety of ethnic, cultural, and gender perspectives. For example, artist Do-Ho Suh reflects on his home in South Korea and the sense of peace that is missing now that he lives in New York. He also discusses the cultural homogenization that happens in South Korea as students in school are given uniforms and a number. Mark Bradford examines his experience of growing up in urban Los Angeles, how the street advertisements create their own language, and the politicization of the African American figure. Ida Applebroog deals with gender and sexual identity and the struggle for political power. Exposure to these artists increases students’ knowledge of other cultures and the corresponding issues. Students begin to compare this new awareness to their own experiences.
The ultimate goal is for students to develop a set of skills that allow them to understand, analyze, and interpret cultural clues. Students use these skills to inform the work that they create. They also become fluent in the subtext of their own lives in order to make work that speaks to the viewer.