The Art Assignment: Learn About Art & the Creative Process in a New Web Series by John & Sarah Green

If you haven’t seen the works of John Green, whose “Crash Course” series on world his­to­ry and Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture we pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here, you’ve missed out on first-class exam­ples of the learn­ing expe­ri­ences video tech­nol­o­gy, the inter­net, and burn­ing curios­i­ty have now made pos­si­ble. (An antipa­thy to these sub­jects’ tra­di­tion­al class­room teach­ing meth­ods may also have some­thing to do with them.) PBS, how­ev­er, has not missed out, and in part­ner­ship with Green and his wife Sarah Urist Green, they’ve just come out with The Art Assign­ment, a week­ly web series that “cel­e­brates the cre­ative process” and intro­duces “today’s most inno­v­a­tive artis­tic minds.” An ambi­tious mis­sion, and one you can find out more about in the clip above. But the Greens don’t intend to put togeth­er a sim­ple primer on art. The Art Assign­ment, as Urist Green explains, has them “trav­el­ing around the coun­try, vis­it­ing artists and ask­ing them to give you an art assign­ment.”

The first episode has just become avail­able, and, in it, they pay a vis­it to the Flux Fac­to­ry in Queens, where artists Dou­glas Paul­son and Christo­pher Rob­bins tell the sto­ry of their first “col­lab­o­ra­tion,” which involved their meet­ing at high noon in a lake in the Czech Repub­lic, the exact geo­graph­i­cal mid­point between their then-homes in Copen­hagen and Ser­bia. Their assign­ment? “Find some­one. Draw a line between the two of you, meet exact­ly in the mid­dle. Once you’ve agreed on your meet­ing point, date, and time, you’re not allowed to speak to each oth­er by any means.” John then won­ders if that real­ly counts as art (“On some lev­el, to me, art is paint­ing”), which prompts Sarah to quote artist-the­o­rist Roy Ascott: “Stop think­ing about art works as objects, and start think­ing about them as trig­gers for expe­ri­ences.” The Art Assign­ment will doubt­less put the Greens and their fol­low­ers through some inter­est­ing expe­ri­ences indeed.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Crash Course on Lit­er­a­ture: Watch John Green’s Fun Intro­duc­tions to Gats­by, Catch­er in the Rye & Oth­er Clas­sics

A Crash Course in World His­to­ry

The 55 Strangest, Great­est Films Nev­er Made (Cho­sen by John Green)

Free: The Guggen­heim Puts 99 Mod­ern Art Books Online

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, Asia, film, lit­er­a­ture, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on his brand new Face­book page.


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