Art teachers are constantly asked about their favorite artists. And while it’s pretty impossible to choose a favorite, we all have artists that inspire us in various ways. The Art Ed Blogger’s Network has decided to write about these artists that inspire in this first post of our new monthly series. Check out some of my favorite artists below and then see the other art teacher blogs for the artists that inspire them.
When I think about what I like about art and what art draws me in, I seem to have a couple different criteria.
- Art that delights or surprises me.
- Art that makes me see the world in a new way.
- Art that makes me feel something.
I’ve chosen my favorite artists for each of these categories. When I see their art in person, I am moved and changed in some way.
Artists that Inspire Delight: Nina Katchadourian
I recently visited the Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University (totally worth a visit by the way! amazing museum) where they had a special exhibit on the work of Nina Katchadourian. I have never been so totally delighted by an exhibit. I laughed out loud over and over and over again at the absurd and the awkward and the unusual content of her work. She is a perfect artist to include in your classrooms as she is an artist that inspires looking at the world through different lenses and taking joy in the absurd. I definitely will be writing about her more in the future!
There were more than 30 of these book spine poems in the exhibit that read like haikus. What a perfect art experience activity for a trip to the school library (although that may make the librarian scream!)?
“Can you be a serious artist and also have humor in your work? I would say history proves the answer is yes. In fact, I would say history also proves there are times the only way you can talk about serious things is actually through humor. I also think humor is, as a tool for an artist, as a strategy, a very quick way in, a very useful way of getting people…inside and then you can do something else to them.” – Nina Katchadourian
Since I told you how funny Nina Katchadourian’s art is, I can’t leave you hanging! This is her work The Genealogy of the Supermarket, 2015. In the work, Katchadourian studied famous faces on common grocery store packaging and organized them into one big family tree. I couldn’t get the whole thing in one shot, but here are some of my favorite pairings.
Artists that Inspire a New Perspective: Fred Wilson
Art helps us look at the world in new ways, and that is where Fred Wilson excels. In his work, he takes varying objects and puts them together to make statements about our world.
For example in Metalwork 1793-1880, he places an exquisite silver tea set next to a set of slave shackles, dating them and labeling them stoically as an objective label text to show that these are the types of metalwork. The silver set by itself or the shackles by themselves would give a completely different meaning than they do placed together and labeled.
“I get everything that satisfies my soul from bringing together objects that are in the world, manipulating them, working with spatial arrangements, and having things presented in the way I want to see them.” – Fred Wilson
His art is fun to discuss with students because the Wilson rarely makes the art he creates. He makes the art through the juxtaposition of objects. Excellent for an aesthetics discussion!
Artists that Inspire Emotion: Kathe Kollwitz
I love art that makes me feel–art that takes the breathe right out of chest, makes me cry, or makes me feel uneasy. I also love art that connects me to my humanity, connects me to other people feeling the same things I feel. You can tell that Kathë Kollwitz, a German artist of the early 20th century, feels deeply as she creates her black and white drawings and prints. We feel connected to the people in her pictures in visceral ways, and I always leave a work of hers feeling different than I did before looking at it.
“While I drew, and wept along with the terrified children I was drawing, I really felt the burden I am bearing. I felt that I have no right to withdraw from the responsibility of being an advocate.” – Kathë Kollwitz
Artists that Inspire my Life: Pablo Picasso
I was going to stop at three artists that inspire, but I can’t talk about being inspired by art without mentioning the impact of Picasso on my life. In 2004, I was knee-deep in applications for my PhD in art history when I went to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston to see the traveling exhibit of the most famous works from the MOMA while NYC museum was being renovated. When I saw Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror, I was punched in the gut. I couldn’t leave the painting. I cried and was totally mesmerized. While standing there looking at this painting, I rethought my whole future. I decided that I never want to NOT feel like this when looking at art. I became worried that if I were to dive too deep into the details of the art history, that art would lose its magic so I changed my course to Art Education instead of art history because I wanted everyone else to experience the magic of art as I see it. I see magic and life and love and all that is amazing in the world in the bold colors of Picasso’s paintings, and they never cease to catch me off guard.
“Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.” – Pablo Picasso
Participating Art Teacher Blogs:
- Art Class Curator – Artists That Inspire
- Art Ed Guru
- Art is Basic
- Art Room Blog
- Art with Mr. E
- Artful Artsy Amy
- Capitol of Creativity
- Create Art with ME
- Mr. Calvert’s Art Room Happenings
- Mrs. Boudreaux’s Amazing Art Room
- Mrs. T’s Art Room
- Party in the Art Room
- shine brite zamorano
- Tales from the Traveling Art Teacher
- There’s a Dragon in my Art Room