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Reflections on the NAEA Conference

Aside from the chance to be back in NYC, the clear highlight for me was listening to Chuck Close reminisce about his early years @ Yale and his thoughts about pursuing a career as an artist. Could have listened for hours!! Sara James speaking about the innovative curriculum @ the Port Phillip School in Melbourne moved me to tears. What more “evidence” could anyone ever want about the  power of the Arts to transform lives for the better? It makes me so sad that we have to “fight” for and “defend”  the inclusion of the Arts even as “enrichment” or “electives” when they should be an integral part of the entire learning experience! Hopefully, her book and the documentary will get the press that they deserve and add to the irrefutable evidence of the power of the Arts to transform our educational system.

On the policy side of things, it was great to see and hear John Maeda, President of RISD, speaking of STEM to STEAM in person. I’ve been following his efforts regarding the “meaning of innovation” and the necessity of the Arts in the newest equation attempting to move our 19th century educational system into the 21st century. It is reassuring to know that such a prominent leader in the Arts education community is out in front advocating for art teachers everywhere. One might also wonder why there isn’t a consortium of Art schools and presidents speaking with a united voice? If you’re out there, why don’t we know?

On another front, I was surprised and delighted that my little lecture was standing room only! I guess many art educators also struggle to preserve their identity as artists while maintaining their careers! For those interested, the PowerPoint is posted @ the NAEA NYC Conference site for one year @ [http://static.coreapps.net/naea2012/handouts/a4d33570f644fdffa392cbe24fd7f010_1.pdf]. As I said in my lecture, Bayles & Orland’s book Art & Fear was/is a life-changer for me (and hopefully many others) and everything Dan Pink writes continues to inspire.

Finally, of the exhibits I managed to steal away to see, the MET show featuring the work collected by the Stein’s is NOT to be missed! A truly remarkable window into the development of so many important figures in the early 20th century! My favorite was seeing all the other portraits of Gertrude Stein surrounding the one I grew up with [Picasso’s] which allowed me to reconsider his perhaps egomaniacal assertion that if the portrait didn’t look like her then it eventually would. What fun to ponder as I viewed all the other interpretations. If you get the chance, don’t miss this show. Also enjoyed the refurbished American Wing and the Islamic Wing both in need of serious attention for decades! Well done.

Now it’s back to focusing on my upcoming show this July @ The Brewster Ladies Library. This show will be more of a retrospective of some older work mixed with some dynamic new work that finally begins to meld my ongoing fascination with assemblage with my new-found love of observational landscape. Titled “Solitude & Solace” the show will be a reflection on my personal relationship with Humanity as the child and grandchild of Holocaust survivors and victims (something I have only recently come to realize has been a dominant theme in my work). Stay tuned for some sneak previews of the newest work!

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