5 thoughts on “Building Meaningful Interpretation Around Unsettling Contemporary Art”

  1. Hi there. Thank you for sharing this information- very interesting and valuable to read. I’d love to hear more about teaching with this piece. Did educators use it during school programs, tours, workshops, or otherwise? It would be great to hear about some strategies for creating space to have meaningful discussion and critique amongst visitors with a facilitator/educator present. What approach did the educator take in narrowing the focus of this expansive work? How did it go?

    Thank you!

    1. Great question! I have asked my staff to share their thoughts, but here is a quick response. Yes, we had docents and educators teaching with this work in the galleries, and I, myself, taught with this piece multiple times. For me, it involved a sizeable chunk of viewing time (20 min), followed by an open conversation about what people noticed, heard, and felt as well as using some open-ended questions to provoke bigger thinking and personal connections. I also had a short list of quotes from the artist or other sources that could spark thinking and conversation. But with this piece, there was rarely a group without much to say — everyone left feeling something. We even had several group experience in which participants broke down into tears. At the end of these experiences, I always provided pathways for further learning (additional resources, websites, publications, etc., in relation to both the work itself as well as the conflict in DRC). Our experiences with this piece were so meaningful and rich. It was just one of those moments when I really love the work I get to do as a museum educator (and we could have done so much more, too).

  2. An impressive project. I’m curious about what the artist thought about the responses. Viewers make of it what they will, but it does sound like he had a purpose in mind.
    As for the lack of valid formative evaluation, the saying is, “If you didn’t have the time to do it right, when will you find the time?”

    1. Rereading my comment, it sounds critical, which was not my intent. More of a “well done, keep it up” hopefully. Some of the best educational/interpretive programmes I have experienced were in art galleries. Planning for exhibits needs to provide the time and resources for well-integrated programmes to develop properly to reach their potential.
      Will the ehibit travel? I’d like to see it?

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