Imagine you walk into an old, impressive building. Big windows, high ceilings. A person welcomes you and shows you where to go. You go. You enter the room. White walls, white floor. The light feels and seems right, you don’t know why but you don’t care either. At the rear of the room, on the wall there is life size painting. No label, no information. Not any kind of interpretation material. There is just you and the painting. You step/go closer. You look. You observe. You question. You experience. Couple of minutes later you can feel the change –this, will stay forever with you.
Does it matter where the painting was or what the building was about? Does it matter if the painting was for sale or not?
You own that moment of encounter, the moment of change, the Art.
All of us involved with Art Museums and Art Education agree that our ultimate mission is to reach as many people as possible and infuse their lives with the transformative power of Art. This is the fundamental cornerstone of our work. The question I have today for you, is why a Gallery should stay out of this equation. If we all agree and believe in social evolution and growth and the role of Education in this, then NOW is the time for Galleries to step up and adjust the quality of their agency.
But Galleries' mission is to promote an artist, communicate his/her work and eventually sell his/her work. Some of the Gallery exhibitions exist for a short period of time, sometimes in the inner elitist cycle of the Gallery's community, isolated from reality, consuming the limited oxygen of the bubble they create.
Fortunately, this reality begins to crumble.
We are heading towards an era where the private sector is becoming a community leader and shaper, with great social initiatives that not only benefit the company itself, but ultimately give back to the community they serve. When Galleries hold back their content silently, feeding their introvert self, are being part of the idea that industrialization and consumerism are significant qualities of Art. They are not.
Have you ever met an artist that consciously denied the popularity of his/her work? I guess not, me neither. The momentum of the artists' work defies the gravity of introversion. Artists want to see their work being loved. Not just being sold. And it is the role of an educator or an interpretation artist to build the bridge between the artist’s deep notions and the audience. They may both have a party later on that bridge.
It is the intrinsic motivation of art creation that prerequisites the work of the mediator, the educator, the interpretation artist.
And then again, it is a given that citizens have now this extra feeling to deal with: that feeling of ownership. Not only they have this strong desire to form, participate and engage in their Museums, but also be active members of the community. Galleries should listen carefully and embrace this social need. The space, as an active and purely democratic station for social change, has formed its own dynamic and demands action.
The decisions made within the Educational Department of a Museum are political decisions. With an eye in the future and an ear in the now, Museums aim to help, inspire, provoke and engage learners. Aim to shake the human existence for good, and show the way. These education calls are the Museum’s footprint. And they should be as pioneering as they can get.
Galleries have yet a significant advantage. Their scale and pace create a flexibility that may reflect the goals of an educational program in a better way. This flexibility also generates space for exploration which is so vital –in a short period of time you may try different educational tools and techniques, approach a theme or a key idea in numerous ways, integrating multiple ways of communicating and learning.
The impact of Education in any possible aspect is undeniable. It is now time for the Lead Gallery to be the change and add this quality to their mission.
*Filippa is the founder & creative director of The Drama Science Lab. Contact her here.