Long Beach State, School of Art, Faculty and Life Model Coordinator, William Terry asked faculty members for a bit of info on How I spent my Summer Vacation. I thought I’d write mine as a blog post:
The Privilege of “No Vacation”
The first thing I “did” this summer was to teach all summer! 🙂 I taught a 12-week, 100% online, Introduction to the Visual Arts course. I’ll admit that face-to-face classes are a bit more fun for me to teach, still, I love teaching this online class. It’s an opportunity for Long Beach State students to go home to Stockholm or Hong Kong or Fresno and still work on their degree. Even the students who stay in The LBC enjoy the flexibility of trips to Las Vegas or San Diego and making progress toward their degree at the same time. Also, in addition to our own Long Beach State Students, I get the occasional student from across town (Chapman University) or across the country (Penn State).
A new addition to this summer’s content was to spend the 12 weeks of summer looking at 12 different living artists (5 women, 5 men, and 2 couples) from 12 different countries. Students from Vietnam, Iran, and elsewhere really light up when they get to study not just “another Western artist,” but a contemporary artist from their own country.
Over the summer we try 12 different Art Activities. Some are traditional media like painting and sculpture. But we also take the opportunity for students to create websites (ePortfolios) to showcase their work. I strive to make this course about art & ideas, but I also try to leverage art & design tools to help students apply their Long Beach State degree toward real career progress. Last week the students created Environmental (Self) Portraits to add to their websites. Above is Yeunje Kim, a senior in Long Beach State’s Cole Conservatory of Music. Below is Majid Shojaei, a senior in Long Beach State’s Department of Civil Engineering & Construction Management.
Free School of Architecture
I’ve been teaching at Long Beach State for 13 years now. Across this time I’ve thought a lot about the nature of education. I’ve come to believe that many of our traditional pedagogical techniques are not that effective. I’ve come to believe that the most compelling educational experiences come when empowered students have the most control over their own activity-based, active-learning programs. I presented some of these ideas in my TEDxCSULB ’17 talk Burn The University Catalog.
Given this perspective, it was exhilarating to spend July ’18 with three dozen international architects, urban planners, and artists from Abuja, Auckland, Dubai, London, Puebla, Stockholm, Sydney, and so many other places, all together at the Free School of Architecture (FSA). FSA was headquartered at Woodbury University Hollywood (WUHO) and from there roamed the reaches of Los Angeles to consider art & architecture both classical and contemporary, the economies of the Port of Long Beach, and so much more.
The learners, organizers, and visiting scholars at FSA are part of an exciting, emerging network of contemporary thinkers redefining architecture, public space, and architectural education. I had a chance at FSA to present my work in Social Production, and I was also FSA’s unofficial official photographer.
In 2018 I’ve accidentally become a Street Photographer. My mission is to document as large a fraction of the life in Los Angeles County as I’m able. My path to this work was accidental, but like finding FSA, I discovered an incredible synergy between Street Photography and so many of the ideas I’ve been exploring for the past decade.
Prior to 2007, I used to routinely apply “Copyright All Rights Reserved” to everything I created. Then, in the summer of 2007, I met Jon Phillips, then an evangelist for Creative Commons, and had a long conversation with him. A few months later I met Free Software Movement founder Richard Stallman and had another life-changing conversation. In the 11 years since those conversations, I’ve focused on Free Culture. My move from object-based art to Social Practice has been a part of this evolution.
When I started doing Street Photography, I immediately recognized that it had an exhilarating power and energy. Only later did I realize that it also entirely connects to Free Culture ideas. In our ever more regulated lives and spaces The Street remains that rare place where no permission is required to enter and where almost anything can happen. Unlike our world filled with so many manufactured images, The Street is a place where the images captured are about as honest as you can get in our time.
WordPress for Artists
On September 23rd I’ll be presenting WordPress for Artists at WordCamp Los Angeles 2018. The talk will feature creating Artists’ Websites, and it will also explore using the web not only for presenting art but as an art medium in its own right.
Year 2 of SOA Artist’s Websites
We launched an Art 490 seminar Artists’ Websites last year. I taught 4 sections of this course, and if the students learned half as much as I did, then they really learned a lot. I went in thinking that the course would be about platforms and the details of building aesthetic portfolio presentations. While all of that is relevant, it proved not to be the most important aspect of the course.
I quickly learned that the real challenge was helping students to focus their portfolios. To shape from the wide diversity of their SOA experiences, a clear presentation of what they want to do. So many students have the instinct to include everything they’ve ever done. As supporting material, this work can be relevant, but I’ve come to see a large part of my role as helping them make clear & concise presentations to the Curators, Clients, Collectors, and Employers they hope to connect with.
I’ve been preparing a new syllabus for this new round of Artists’ Websites and anticipate being even more effective at helping SOA Students create portfolios that help launch their careers.
The Pacific Ocean
Oh, and I also did a lot of kayaking and swimming in the Pacific Ocean around spots like the Newport Coast, Avalon, and Anacapa Island. It’s been a great summer!