While museums like SFMOMA and the Indianapolis Museum of Art are racing to create mobile-device apps in the hopes of drawing visitors closer to their art, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles is launching what suddenly seems to be a much more straightforward, almost old-fashioned online service: Open Studio, a site created by Mark Bradford that features 10 artist-designed lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school teachers.
These curricula — presented as free, downloadable PDFs on the Getty’s website — are the inaugural endeavor of the Getty Artists Program, an initiative that furnishes artists who have an interest in education with the museum's resources to create innovative projects. Bradford, whose own giant collages, installations, and video pieces investigate the underlying social networks beneath geographical grids of cities, was asked by the Getty to collaborate with the museum’s education department a year ago, just before he won the MacArthur “genius” award.
For Open Studio, Bradford has solicited the participation of artists including Kara Walker, Catherine Opie, Xu Bing, Michael Woo, and Amy Silliman to make arts education more introspective than simply playing with “glitter and macaroni and crayons for an hour,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I think that’s why Facebook is so popular with young people,” he said. “I look at Facebook as a collage — you’re creating a sense of identity, telling the world who you are, through what music you listen to, what images you like.”
For her project, titled Arranging Your Narrative, Kara Walker suggests teachers have their students compose their life stories in three different ways, with each iteration calling for an increasing degree of technological sophistication and inter-connectivity: the first version is completed with a typewriter (Walker asks students to “let the rhythm of the typewriter sing to you”) and watercolors, the second version is executed in text messages, and the third is a text-message chain with each stage of the narrative composed by someone else, to finally be read aloud as a group. In a pedagogical shocker, nowhere in the process is macaroni required.