Abstract “I have to change to stay the same”

Karin de Jonge

For Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) change was key in keeping his art making alive and he understood that change requires a lot of risk-taking.[1] It’s his quote that adorns the front façade of the academy building in neon letters and it is this thinking that has been the footing on which all learning inside is based.

This presentation is about risk-taking in art education and the current demand for change provoked by the Covid-19 crisis. What change do we strive for within an educational context that is already changing due to measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus. How do we begin to deal with the strain put on our social encounters within actual and virtual walls of an Art School?

I will elaborate with an analysis of the absence of sensory interactions by recounting my own and my students’ experiences while teaching online from May 2020 to present day. Diving into aspects of teaching and learning ranging from the basics of communication (or lack there off) to contemplating what it actually means to be present or to be respectful during online lessons.

What kind of reality are we facing, when we are connected online? What is the nature of the connection made? How are we to gauge emotional and social differences experienced through a virtual veil. In short how can we reach one another when our sensory antennas are less stimulated?

What conditions and inventions must be developed so we can change and stay the same? In my opinion the condition is a continuous willingness to take risks. And furthermore, being unafraid of making mistakes. Ultimately missing the vicinity of ‘old school’ learning skills, might be the much-needed impetus for developing hands-on (digital) tools in this period of digital reality and online (art & design) education.

[1] https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2012/01/02/a-way-of-seeing/