Walker Art Center
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Interactions/Intersections: Cultural Globalism and Educational Practice


is very exciting for us because we are able to work with a community that we have not yet worked with in depth. We are fortunate to have an artist of Ethiopian decent who has a good understanding of East African cultures and is committed to providing artistic experiences to this immigrant community. One of the lessons we learned from Julie is that privacy is very important within the East African communities. Originally the project was conceived as a group activity. Now, it's shifting toward individual projects so that the participants will feel more comfortable.

CA: At the heart of Julie's project is the desire to have these new communities be able to take ownership of their new neighborhoods, new routines, and new homes. It's a self-mapping, self-ethnographic project that reflects the stamp they have made on the city. They are not just outsiders here in a new city but rather are in a city that has been distinctly imprinted and changed by their presence.

SR: The idea of mapping is also connected to the exhibition How Latitudes Become Forms. The invention of latitudinal measurements in the fifteenth century marked a major advancement in Western mapmaking processes. Of course, now those inventions are associated with issues of exploration and colonialism, and maps have become politically controversial to a certain extent. Consequently, the use of the word latitudes in the title of this exhibition provides an opportunity to thematically connect with place, and also with multiple histories. Mapping can be a metaphor for how we organize knowledge or experience. We are combining these themes in a hands-on class for students in the Walker's art lab, offered in conjunction with tours of the Latitudes exhibition. Students will use maps as place identifiers, pattern work, and collage elements to make artworks both individually and collaboratively in response to the work they see in the galleries.

SS: Mapping is a way to graphically and conceptually understand complex connections, especially between the local and the global. We live in a nomadic world, where the Internet literally creates new networks and associations. Also, people are able to travel and move about more freely. You don't really belong in one place, but in multiple places.

MW: That raises the issue of the museum's role in a nomadic world, both as a civic institution and as one node in a global network of contemporary art institutions. As the institution presents and collects work by artists from around the world, it is important that we present the art on its own terms and interpret it according to its own strategies. This requires us to know the implications of the artist's choice of materials and forms and to recognize the cultural dialogues the pieces are participating in: Is a piece created for an international audience or an internal one? Understanding the art-historical context of some of this work will be a challenge. It's hard enough to talk about contemporary art when you are familiar with its conceptual antecedents. Could it be that art produced for a global audience is the beginning of a new art history--that its antecedents are all of the possible art histories?

SR: One of our responsibilities is to go beyond just looking at a work of art in terms of its elements and to examine the (art)world in which it was made. That includes the world of the artist--his or her local community and historical context. That might sound monocultural, but, in fact, more and more artists today live in and move through many localities. They may be working as artists on several continents. They may have their work shown in many, many different places, in many, many different contexts. Global arts education, for me, means precisely these overlapping circles of (art)worlds that can inform even just one work of art.

SS: I've certainly experienced a shift in practice. I have to say, a few years ago, I would have thought naively that the phrase "global arts education" meant doing a forum on the Web that would have reached out across the world. Now, I have a very different opinion about what working globally might mean, which, for me, probably means working locally in a very different context.

CA: The global and the local have been discussed among the teens for a long time. We're always looking at the most contemporary work in the galleries because that is where we can find artwork from all over the world. Those "global" issues we see in the work relate to the "local" (as well as profoundly personal) issues that are going on in the teen's small communities of friends or at school. I feel my job is to help the teens work in the