Guggenheim

Art as a working tool

Talking about art and being part of a creative process led by an artist can help elementary schoolchildren deal with curricular subjects from a different angle.

Many students learn better through active learning and choice. This program encourages questions, kindles curiosity, promotes new inspiring ideas, and stimulates the excitement of discovery.

Every project is bespoke and unique. Their open design makes it possible to adjust them in order to meet individual needs and skills, which often means making room for improvisation, play, exploration, trial and error. Students embark on artistic processes that encourage them to think, discern, try, choose, doubt, have fun, get lost, experience creative block and, of course, make mistakes—for without mistakes there are no lessons, no progress.

The end of the school year is the time to share conclusions on the creative process. As in every artistic development process, the exhibition is the cherry on the cake: the process comes full circle and the audience sees and receives the product of creation. Like every summer, the Education Room at the Museum gets filled with works of art. This year, from June 18 to September 15, visitors can take a look at the various sections they have been grouped into: Writing, where language, words and writing play a key role; Recycling and Consumption, which brings together works that invite reflection on this topic; Maps, Architectures, and Nature, which includes bird’s-eye views, itineraries and scale models; and Films and Photos, a gathering of landscapes and people, stop-motion animation, performance, and other creations. Schoolchildren are invited to the opening event, along with their teachers and the artists they have worked with. Having their artwork exhibited at the Museum is the perfect way to end an exciting year, boosting their self-esteem and giving them recognition they will never forget.

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Artists
Inaki Gracenea

The village and the city; representation and experience; from evocation to structure. We took a step back to take a look at the infinite world around us and then moved closer so as not to miss small details. We shared experiences, we converged in common life experiences, and we were able to translate ideas into artworks based on appearance and formal logic.

Iñaki Gracenea

Zaloa Ipiña

Because of its characteristics, this program helps schoolchildren understand certain topics from a freer yet complex perspective. The continuity of our sessions helped us explore alternatives on a subject, try different exercises, repeat or change experiments, make mistakes, analyze our work in progress. The students learned how to approach a long-term project, going beyond immediacy—an overrated value in today’s world. They discovered new forms of creation, based on their own initiative.

Zaloa Ipiña

 

The children I worked with learned to look at the things around them with the eyes of an artist, thus finding opportunities where there seemed to be none. We used school materials: book cover film, felt-tip pens, rulers, maps… objects the children were familiar with. This helped them understand how important the concept is in any creative process. After learning several techniques and putting them into practice, we created the artworks that are shown at this exhibition. Being by these children’s side on this creative experience was delightful, given their dedication and, especially, the involvement of their teachers.

Nerea Lekuona

Karlos Martínez Bordoy

Going back to school was a curious, positive experience. We all worked in groups—the students, the teacher and myself—on the dynamics of boycott, experimentation and error, and we learnt to come to our own conclusions avoiding value judgments. Letting experience carry us away, we went beyond conventional concepts in our quest for ways of showing what we know.

Karlos Martínez Bordoy

Manu Muniategiandikoetxea

Working with kids requires adapting your language and artistic discourse. The process is stimulating and enriching just because you have to try to show what you do with the same concepts, but in other words. Every subject, no matter how complex, can be simply put if you find the right words. The ability to experiment with art is something we are born with. Kids see the language of art—drawing, painting, making models—as a game.

Manu Muniategiandikoetxea

More about the artist
Jorge Rubio

Imagination is not just an escape route but also a powerful driving force in creativity. It is one of our most powerful tools for expression and communication, for self-knowledge and transformation. We should nourish and expand our imagination so that it is part of ourselves. It will not change the world by itself, but it will change the people who can change the world. We take it for granted; we know it is fundamental. And yet, it is intangible, unruly, virtually unpredictable. Creativity should be part of society, but often, its ineffectiveness makes us choose to live out of habit instead.

Jorge Rubio

Ixone Sádaba

How do we build our identity? How do we construct our differences while being part of a group and identifying ourselves in it? Going from childhood to adolescence is complicated; we leave many things behind and welcome others—not without fear. During this school year, we’ve analyzed ourselves and the world around us, discovering not just our surroundings but even New York City! We made drawings of ourselves; we invented ourselves. We kept field notebooks and we used analog cameras to take pictures of ourselves, of our families and of the things around us. And we enjoyed ourselves, both in our similarities and in our differences.

Ixone Sádaba

Ibon Sáenz de Olazagoitia

Stimulating skills such as creativity and imagination in schoolchildren? Encouraging them to leave insecurities and fears aside? Telling them they can be artists? Of course! We just need the right circumstances, and the Learning Through Art program makes them happen. Fifth-grade boys and girls at Paula Montal School in Vitoria-Gasteiz were the lucky protagonists of this wonderful experience. We had to find a break in the ambitious school curriculum so that the program could unfold, but it was worth the while. The results are rewarding, indeed.

Ibon Sáenz de Olazagoitia

Manu Uranga

Using non-conventional materials and techniques and getting rid of ready-made ideas about art was essential in these workshops. Creative practices can bring hidden topics or concepts, or even unnoticed concerns or reasons, to light. We began work based on this premise, learning together and building on previous knowledge. Initiatives like this one require personalized attention on students, but they are vital if children are to develop their creative skills, contributing to build a healthier society. It is on us to help them do so.

Manu Uranga

Did you know that...?

Exchange Bilbao–New York

Kids from two different schools, one of Barakaldo and the other in Queens, New York, sent emails to each other for six months.
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Program

Learning Through Art is an educational program designed to support the primary school curriculum using art as a tool.
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History

Learning Through Art, an educational program of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, was founded in 1970
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