WWFGTD? ON GENEROSITY AS PEDAGOGY, MODELED IN THE SCULPTURE OF FELIX GONZALEZ-TORRES
This piece is a consideration of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work as a potential pedagogical model. The focus of my recent writing and teaching practices have been how to engage in a supportive dynamic that creates space for embodied intelligence. Teaching at a notoriously demanding art school prompts reflection on the divisive and dehumanizing tendencies of academic institutions. I turn to the gifting energetics of Felix Gonzalez-Torres (FGT), whose work is a favorite among my students. The softness of FGT’s minimalism, at once rigorous and generous, haunted by presence and absence, joy and melancholy, has served as a physical model of what it means to teach from a place of empathetic connection with subject matter and students. My recent turn towards somatic pedagogy is beautifully figured in FGT’s stacks and piles that both implicate and elide the body without ever denying its centrality: an elegant metaphor for intellectual labor as an embodied experience. Teaching is a practice that requires laying a foundation with equal parts hope and discipline, and then relinquishing control. As I find myself largely without a road map on this path for engaging my students, subject matter, and self, I often ask what would FGT do?
Liz Maynard works as an art historian, yoga teacher, and body worker in Providence, Rhode Island. She teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design and Rhode Island College where she focuses on modern and contemporary art works oriented around embodied experience and the construction and deconstruction of subjectivities. Her prime methodology as a writer and teacher is to locate the threads of empathetic connections in both discourse and experiential practice that allow for a deeper understanding of the arts and each other.
Light refreshments will be served.