Acclaimed Art Dubai to Return for Sixth Edition

Acclaimed Art Dubai to Return for Sixth Edition

From humble beginnings to international art fair extravaganza, the sixth annual Art Dubaifair returns to its roots this March. 2012’s Art Dubai promises to be its strongest edition yet, with a variety of artistic and educational programs, satellite fairs, commissioned projects, and performative tours. Featuring 75 galleries from 32 countries, the event has become a fundamental feature in the MENASA region (Middle East/North Africa/South Asia), expanding to include art from across the globe. What’s on the menu at this Middle Eastern hotspot event? Sikka Art Fair is back for its second turn, highlighting the works of emerging Emirati artists. Also in the spotlight are a slew of artist and curator residencies, the unveiling of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize winners, and the critically acclaimed Global Art Forum. And let’s not forget the debuti of Design Days Dubai, a cutting-edge new art fair part of Art Dubai that we explored last week. (Left: “Faces of Your Other 29,” (2010) by Zakaria Ramhani/Artspace). 2011’s edition welcomed over 20,000 visitors, and fair organizers expect even more at this year’s highly anticipated event. Recently, MutualArt spoke with Art Dubai director Antonia Carver, who shared some of the highlights of this year’s show, and why she believes the Gulf is fast-becoming a cornerstone of breakthrough artistic production. Mutualart: Middle Eastern art has often been under-represented in the market. How is Art Dubai attempting to resolve this issue? Antonia Carver: While Middle Eastern art was chronically under-represented ten years ago, a lot has changed. Art Dubai acts as a hub for the region… Dubai is a commercial art city now, with over 40 galleries, and home to auction houses and the region’s biggest fair. We aim to feature the most dynamic galleries, but also support and promote artists, through our residencies, talks and commissioning program. Since Art Dubai began, we’ve seen international interest in Middle Eastern art deepen and diversify; many of these institutions now have acquisition committees for contemporary Middle Eastern art, and feature artists from the region alongside others, in thematic or solo shows — this is a major breakthrough. Art Dubai has played a role in this, but it’s thanks to the passion and dedication of curators all over the region.   MA: How has modern Middle Eastern art changed over the last decade? Has the Arab Spring had an affect on the art that is produced? AC: Modern Middle Eastern art has risen in popularity and become highly sought-after. Contemporary artists have also entered the international art world in a very different way than ever before — but many of the artists have opted to refocus on their own concerns, be they domestic, national, personal, and so on — rather than pander to a stereotype of what makes an artist “Middle Eastern.” Last year we saw artists producing work that reacted to what was happening in Egypt and Tunisia, in particular. But these are seismic shifts in the Arab world, and they will take time for artists to absorb. (Above: “Smoke Bombs II (2011) by Olaf Bruening/Carbon12). MA: Can you talk a little about the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, and this year’s nominees? AC: The Abraaj Capital Art Prize is now in its fifth year, and is the only prize that’s dedicated towards awarding a proposal, an idea, rather than a finished work. It’s thus a very artist-centric prize, and is awarded to an artist from the region. This year’s winners are the Palestinian photographic artist Taysir Batniji; Beirut/Paris-based filmmakers and installation/photographic artists Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige; Wael Shawky, who recently won great plaudits for his animated film work, Cabaret Crusades, at the Istanbul Biennial; Pakistani textile artist Risham Syed; and Raed Yassin, who works across different media, and who has a brilliantly witty eye. They’ve been working with Guest Curator Nat Muller, who is also producing a book on the creation of their art. The winning artists were announced in September, and they worked for seven months on producing these major new works, which are unveiled at Art Dubai. (Above Left: “First One to Trust Last One to Live,’ (2011) by Amir H. Fallah/The Third Line). MA: What exactly is the DXB store? What’s the mission of this ‘pop-up initiative,’ and how does it further the work of contemporary young designers? AC: The DXB Store is our answer to the kind of shop and range you find at Tate, MoMA, and so on — but it only features new products and multiples by designers and artists living in the UAE. We issued an open call a few months ago, and asked a jury to select artists from the hundreds that applied with ideas for...

The Importance of Fine Arts in the Classroom

The Importance of Fine Arts in the Classroom

Fine Arts is defined in the Encarta Dictionary as being, “any art form, for example, painting, sculpture, architecture, drawing, or engraving, that is considered to have purely aesthetic value” (Encarta, 2004). Though this definition is used in relationship with the arts in the regular world, in regards to teaching, fine arts is defined as a subject beneficial, not essential, to the learning process and is often phased out because of lack of time, little learning potential, and no money. Fine arts is simply seen as painting and drawing, not a subject studied by an academic scholar. Writer Victoria Jacobs explains, “Arts in elementary schools have often been separated from the core curriculum and instead, offered as enrichment activities that are considered beneficial but not essential” (Jacobs, 1999, p. 2). What is missing in classrooms is the lack of teacher knowledge of the benefits of maintaining an art- based curriculum. Teachers “have very little understanding of the arts as disciplines of study. They think of the arts instruction as teacher-oriented projects used to entertain or teach other disciplines” (Berghoff, 2003, p. 12). Fine arts expand the boundaries of learning for the students and encourage creative thinking and a deeper understanding of the core subjects, which are language arts, math, science, and social studies. Teachers need to incorporate all genres of fine arts, which include, theater, visual art, dance, and music, into their lesson plans because the arts gives the students motivational tools to unlock a deeper understanding of their education. Teaching the arts is the most powerful tool that teachers can present in their classrooms because this enables the students to achieve their highest level of learning. The arts can open the minds of students in ways mere reading and writing will never be able to accomplish. Yet, the point of teaching this subject is not to teach about the arts, but to teach through the arts. Jacobs explains, Teaching though the arts requires students to engage in the act of creative art. For example they might draw a picture, write a poem, act in a drama, or compose music to further their understanding of concepts in content areas other than the arts. Teaching through the arts helps students experience concepts rather than simply discussing or reading them. This approach is consistent with educational theories that highlight the importance of reaching multiple learning styles or intelligences. (Jacobs, 1999, p. 2) Teaching through the arts can be done in many different ways depending on the teacher’s interests, but truly is the only way to reinforce the students learning experience. In a time where budget cuts and new learning laws are being established, teachers need to be more informed and educated on the negative impacts of the loss of the fine arts programs. “The study of the arts has the potential for providing other benefits traditionally associated with arts….arts has been linked to students’ increased critical and creative thinking skills, self-esteem, willingness to take risks, and ability to work with others” (Jacobs, 1999, p. 4). With these benefits, teachers can not afford to limit their teaching of the arts in the classroom. Teaching through the arts are the key elements of learning and the traits teachers strive to establish and reinforce in their students. By working through the arts, instead of about the arts, the students’ educational experience will be achieved in a different way than just teaching the standard style of learning. Former Governor of California, Gray Davis, noted, “Art education helps students develop creativity, self-expression, analytical skills, discipline, cross-cultural understandings, and a heightened appreciation for the arts” and that “students who develop artistic expression and creative problem solving skills are more like to succeed in school and will be better prepared for the jobs and careers of the future” (California Art Study, 2003, p. 1). What is a better way to enhance a lesson plan than to add another dimension of learning than by incorporating different levels of teaching? A company that has the basis of focusing on different learning styles is Links for Learning, [http://www.links-for-learning.com]. This company understands the importance of incorporating arts into the classroom. Former Secretary of Education, William Bennet wrote, “The arts are essential elements of education just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…Music, dance, painting, and theater are keys to unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment” (Swann-Hudkins, 2002). With these activities, the students were able to become part of the water cycle instead of just using their listening skills and trying to mentally figure out this lesson. The teacher also had the students write a poem using words they felt while they, the snowflakes, were falling to the ground (Jacobs, 1999,...