art lessons

I have a painting at the MOMA (and you could too!)


OK, as I'm sure you've guessed, there's some fine print involved in my claim, which I'll explain later. But this journey began, as many good things do, in Venice. 

While I was on my three-month European trip last year, I had more free time than usual since I had so few responsibilities. I was a lying on a couch in our Castello apartment when an appealing art course appeared on my Insta feed, It was Postwar Abstract Painting and it was offered by the MOMA through Coursera. Since I had the time, I signed up. To be honest, Venice does that to me. There's so much exquisite ancient art that I get itchy for something more current.

The course is eight weeks long, with each lesson focusing on one artist. There are videos, readings, quizzes, and to my surprise: studio exercises.

The studio exercises proved very interesting. The instructor, Corey D'Augustine, demonstrates on video how artists like Ad Reinhard and Yayoi Kusama created their works. (Not Rothko of course, his luminous colour techniques remain a  mystery even though Corey tries.) I couldn't begin the painting part until I got back to my studio, but I was eager to try. And studio exercises were a revelation. Technical details connected my own art practice to those of artists I admire. For homework, we were supposed to create "copies" as an exercise, but the more inspiring part is realizing how each artist struggled to communicate theory and ideas through their work.

Ad Reinhard tried to create completely black paintings by stripping away everything but pigment from his paints. Before, his blank black canvases were the kind of painting I would pass by, but now I can hardly wait to see his work in person.

I'm a huge proponent of continuous learning, but it's not always possible to find the courses you want to take in your city. However with online learning, the options are endless. I was surprised that a free art course with no feedback could be so fulfilling, but this one definitely was. The MOMA continues to notify me when new videos related to the class are posted, and recently they invited all the students to submit for a show about the course. The artwork will be the exercises we created during the class. I submitted my Mark Rothko exercise. Believe me, I respect his painting even more now that I've tried to recreate his luminous colour through thin layers of paint. And I was happy to find out my art was selected for the exhibition.

Which brings us to the fine print. The show I'm in is at the MOMA's Education and Research building. The featured artwork will be projected on four screens the show runs for most of January. There's even an opening on January 8th. A New York opening? I wish I could be there, but apparently there's a ton of snow right now.

If you're interested in taking the class and someday being in the MOMA yourself, check out this link on Coursera. Then you  too could be exhibiting at the MOMA someday.