Mar 29th 2011

As formal educational opportunities become increasingly taxing for the artist (insert educator/critic/historian), students question the value of traditional learning experiences. At the same time, educational institutions have developed formalized disciplinary tracks in arts administration, curatorial practice and criticism, and now the increasingly popular PhD in visual arts. What does this say about the baseline criteria that art professionals need to meet before being allowed to do anything in the arts? Is formal education valued over experience, and if so, what does this mean for the democratization of voices in the art world?

In response to several pedagogic movements of the last century, as well as current practices in DIY and self-education, we are seeing a rebirth of public access education. In turn, this trend is raising a new set of questions, including: who, exactly, is sanctioning what is worthy of being learned, who is worthy of receiving that learning and where that learning should take place?

This session of the @work SALON series will focus on the rebirth of arts education in the public access form. Popping up in Chicago and other cities is a new version of this free education system, which is partially defined by free (or very low-cost) seminars and skill-sharing with an emphasis on democratic education. Participation is open to all, for students and teachers alike, in this horizontal peer-to-peer alt.institutional structure. Creativity, flexibility, experimentation, and collaboration are highly valued in the arts. Why shouldn’t these traits be applied to the ways in which we access knowledge, as well as to its content?

Invited guests include Zachary Cahill, Erica Meiners (Northeastern Illinois University), Bert Stabler, Jacqueline Terrassa (MCA) and Rebecca Zorach (University of Chicago).

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