Sunday, March 1, 2009

Being Didactic

I know what you mean when you said that you feel like you're going in circles. Maybe we could steer the conversation away from making money and the economy and towards things that I see in common in both of our art.

I think that both make work that is didactic in some way. For me, I know that in much of my work I am actually trying to model a behavior or create a situation that will get others to think about incorporating leisure and a laidbackness into their lives. At least that's the way it is for my beer projects. I want people to think differently about the importance of relationship building; rethinking relationships as a form of labor in a sense. I also do a lot of work that is some form of consulting. In The Committee I worked with a Katy Asher and Chris Hudson to help Rudy Speerschneider think about his goals and his vision for Junior Ambassadors, his wild food cart up in north Portland. This was during his first year of operations. We met with him weekly for a while and then we had our own facilitated meetings where we brainstormed ideas for him; many of which were suggestions that he had actually mentioned, we just expanded them a little. We then created to-do lists and suggestion packets for him. I also did that art building revamp project, where I just created a powerpoint for the faculty showing them what I would change in the building. I think both of those are didactic in a more direct way than the beer projects.

I also just read the book We Make the Road By Walking, which is a conversation between Paolo Freire and Myles Horton. They basically talk about experiential, site-based education and the role of the "teacher." This book has had a profound impact on me, but I think because of Harrell's ideologies I had already been incorporating some of these ideas into my practice, and especially into my teaching. I'm coteaching the undergrad social practice class right now and the main idea behind the class is that students are to become teachers. This has worked well sometimes and other times not at all, but it's a lot of fun trying to figure it all out. For my final project I'm going to be creating a class for Stephanie, my wife, because she was recently laid off and has some extra time to think through her priorities and skills. So, I'm putting together a specialized curriculum just for her.

I know that you also have read We Make The Road By Walkind and I was wondering if that book has had any impact on you and your work? Why or why not? If it has, where have you seen it influencing you the most? Also, your work is clearly didactic, do you have anything to add about that?

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