Visionary Studio - Art Education


Emma Exley, Dana Helwick, Naqiya Hussain, Alexis Kornblum, Britnei Merckle, Sebastian Pinaud

Grade Level: 9-12

How do we experience time?

  • How do artists represent and embody the idea of time?
  • How does time influence us?
  • How do we influence time?

Time is a constant factor in all of our lives. It is perpetually evolving, whether we are reflecting on the past, unfolding in the present or moving forward into the future. However, every person experiences and understands time differently. Every day we explore time through movement, routine, interaction and observation. Our capacity to record and represent the past through technology has changed the way we view our histories, and has changed the way we experience the present.

Throughout this unit students will be introduced to the ways contemporary artists address time in their work. Contemporary artists play with the nature of time through many art forms; some through process art, time-based work, and performance art. Artists explore the structure of time through ideas of speed, movement, rhythm, routine, emotion, and communication. Artists working in time-based media, such as William Kentridge, have tools at their disposal to alter the structure of time. Other artists, including On Kawara, record the structure of time through the static arts of painting and still photography. Students will be asked to reflect on how contemporary artists are choosing to deal with time by representing it visually as well as using time as a physical medium in their work. Projects, investigations and other activities included in this unit offer students an opportunity to think critically about how they experience time in their own lives and to represent their own ideas about time through various time-based media.

Class Sessions

Week 1: Creating Community - Exquisite Corpse and brainstorming activities about “time”
Students will explore the concepts of how we think about time, how we feel about time and how we physically experience time by engaging in an Exquisite Corpse exercise. Students will also begin to answer some of the questions that will drive the overall unit by examining the work of contemporary artists such as Christian Marclay, Vito Acconci, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Week 2: Blind Contour and Camera-less Films

Students will explore how time can be represented through the medium of film. Students will explore abstract, camera-less films that blur the line between time and reality by artists such as Stan Brakhage, Norman McClaren, and Len Lye. Students will also use contour drawing to explore the concept of time as they draw a constantly changing object.

Week 3: Painting with Light

Painting with light is a photographic technique that literally illuminates the physical processes that create a photograph. In addition to learning a new drawing technique using a digital camera, students will utilize drawing techniques covered during previous weeks to create images that are both static and dynamic.

Week 4: Cyanotypes and Rube Goldberg Machines
Students will review the process and history of cyanotype photography followed by a brief discussion on how time was first measured and the relationship between light, time and the photographic process. Students will illustrate one idea that interests them as a potential study for their final work. They will create a cyanotype from this idea.

Week 5: Performance Art - Marina Abramović and Oliver Herring’s TASK
In this lesson, students will be introduced to performance art as a means to explore the ways in which artists embody time. Students will be asked to consider how contemporary artists, specifically performance artists, have embodied the concept of time as a literal medium for artistic expression.  Students will experiment with and engage in performative experiences inspired by contemporary artists Marina Abramović and Oliver Herring.

Weeks 6 - 9: Studio Sessions - Final projects and exhibition

As a summation of all the concepts and ideas taught in the previous five weeks, the last three weeks are completely devoted to the creation of the final art project. The students’ final piece can take the form of any medium (sculpture, drawing, video, photo, performance, etc.), but must In some way, relate and express a student’s personal reactions to the essential questions that have been driving the unit.