I thought today would be more festive than usual. My efforts to get our class into the Center for Creative Photography and the Modern Art Museum, both on campus, were denied, since things don't open until 9 a.m. I made a disappointed look when the lady at the art museum told me, "We can't do that. We don't have security until 9."
So, we talked a little about what an "artifact" is or could be. Something that can be read and interpreted for meaning -- a film, photograph, book, piece of trash, pot or pan, and so on. I want the students to use something like this as a secondary source for their upcoming personal essays.
Then we walked, as a class, to look at three sculptures that are on campus. It's a nice day; I'm glad we got outside. And students actually made comments about the art works, which made me happy. I don't like it when people don't disagree with me.
The first sculpture was one representing a border with four figures pushing the wall, two against the other two. It's an interesting commentary on the current illegal immigration / Minuteman debate. The thing is huge -- fifteen feet high with huge figures. Then we walked near the library, where there's a sculpture of a woman freeing doves and a sculpture of what appears to be an American Indian on a Trail of Tears-type march. It was fun to walk around.
A student challenged my interpretation of the female w/ birds figure, which I called "highly sexualized." It's a nude bronze, the woman has a lot of curves, she reaches up to release four doves. I said the placement could allude to the liberatory nature of the university for women, but that by showing her in a sexualized manner, the history of representations of the female is not challenged -- like Greek sculpture of female nudes. The student argued for a sort of essentialist understanding of the female body -- that the physicality depicted was something good and definitive of Woman. I don't agree with that, because it's cultural sediment that would lead us to believe in an essential physicality for women while men have historically been depicted as rational and not held back by the body, and that a different representation of femininity could be more liberatory. But I'm glad she spoke up.
All in all, I should make my classes go outside way more and invite guest speakers more often. Much more fun that way, for one and all, including me. Anything but the grammar!