I have found that artists are not often invited to share their teaching methods with the public, which is mysterious since many contemporary artists not only work in education, but also consider it part of their artistic practice. What is interesting to me is that, when it comes to art and education, the discussion is not about whether it’s art but what happens when education is the work itself. With this in mind, I was thrilled to organize Open Table: Artists Working with Education—a two-part program at MoMA that aimed to bring artists, educators, curators, and Museum visitors together to discuss learning as a form of art. I set out to use the series as a means to explore the role of education in the production of meaning and how, within art, we learn collectively. Featured guests for the first program included artists Xenobia Bailey and Chloë Bass and curator Petrushka Bazin Larsen. The next Open Table includes artists Wendy Ewald and Pato Hebert and curator María del Carmen Carrión.
The format of this program needed to embody the pedagogical and experimental tone of the conversation. I envisioned it as an open table where guest artists could conceptualize what would be served in a way in which all visitors could participate. Providing food would make our visitors feel welcome, eating together would serve as a basic form of exchange, and the menu would function as a metaphor for artists creating conditions and spaces conducive to learning.
For our first conversation, on August 5, we offered platters of seasonal fruit—watermelon, plums, peaches, cherries, and grapes—in individual bowls, along with paper napkins bearing printed prompts to get us started. Visitors were invited to assemble their own fruit salad as a gesture that explored ideas of materiality, reuse, and combination. The simplicity of this activity became the fuel for an organic conversation.
Participants and visitors alike raised their hands to identify themselves as educators, artists, and/or activists. We talked about our work and our relationship to education. We also discussed how we improvise and move from one environment to another, from “research” to “understanding research”; from “creating systems when entering inhospitable environments,” to “make