There is an extensive history of artists making artwork in the context of their university classroom, of incorporating methods of teaching as an artistic practice, and of collaborating with students to realize works of art. For example, Joseph Beuys who was influenced by educator Rudolf Steiner, was known to develop his course on the spot and in collaboration with students. Allan Kaprow and Herbert Kohl developed a school-type work called ‘Project Other Ways,’ which invited artists, teachers and students to experiment with performance and conceptual art by replacing curriculum plans with ‘event scores.’ Similarly, Grzegorz Kowalski collaborated with his students at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in Poland incorporating a series of teaching games into the studio classroom and his own work (Krstich, 2012; 2013). However, such work is often eclipsed in the larger discourse regarding contemporary art practice, as it took place in classrooms, which were often seen to ‘lack an audience’ (Bishop, 2012) and therefore not as valued in the larger art market.
Increasingly contemporary artists who are employed as full time faculty, sessional instructors, or as teaching visiting artists are using the university classroom as a site of creative practice, collaborating with their students to create work as a model for thinking about the proliferation of ‘school’ platforms and the discursive, research-based models of creation and representation in the contemporary art world.
The consequences of this teaching-as-art practice are significant in that it: i) challenges traditional art curricula and assessment models, ii) impacts how future artists conceive of making work with participants, iii) it requires University programs to re-think teaching methods and offer different degree options, iv) and subsequently shapes how graduates of such courses go on to practice as teachers in K‑12 schools, in community arts spaces, or in museums; in other words the larger network of art education.
Using historical/archival research and a case study research-creation model this new research extends previous residencies in K‑12 schools through examples of contemporary art as pedagogy in University classrooms.