Rather than beginning the semester in Painting class with ancient cave paintings or the Renaissance, which was half a millennia ago- I wanted to expose students to the contemporary art world of today.

I provide students with a list of living & working artists. They search several of the artists on Google and decide which one they’d most like to investigate, imitate and share with the rest of the class. If they know of or find another living artist that is not on this list- I allow them to please add them.

Each student will create a slideshow sharing a little bit about the artist’s background and influences and tell us what they like about the artist and why they chose them. Meanwhile, they’re also challenged to create their own painting in the style of the artist they learned about.

Besides a recommended template, I also present them with a demonstration slideshow using myself as the contemporary artist. While this is obviously a form of shameless self promotion, it’s not just about my ego. Besides being a way to introduce myself to students, unbeknownst to them, it serves not only as an example for a presentation about a 21st century painter at the beginning of the semester, it’s also an example for them to create an “artist statement” presentation about themselves and their own work at the END of the semester.

Curating and presenting art is one of the national standards for Art education. Many schools also require a formal writing component across all disciplines. Not only will this assignment address both of these, it also helps students to realize the connections between reflecting on any art they encounter, including exemplars from art history in books and museums, and reflecting on their own work and that of their classmates.