June 17, 2010

Getty Museum and Artist Mark Bradford Launch Online Curricula for K-12 Art Teachers

Innovative project involves prominent artists in classroom art education

Mark Bradford



LOS ANGELES—The Getty Museum and artist Mark Bradford today unveiled Open Studio: A Collection of Artmaking Ideas by Artists, a new project conceived by Bradford, an LA-based artist and MacArthur Fellow, to provide free online arts activities for K-12 teachers to use in their classrooms.

Open Studio is the inaugural project of the Getty Artists Program, an expanded effort to involve contemporary artists in the Museum’s Education programs. Bradford designed Open Studio to provide brief, accessible activities that don’t require a great deal of preparation or supplies. A teacher can click, print, and immediately share them with his or her class.

In partnership with Bradford, the Museum asked some of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists to join him in designing activities: Kerry James Marshall, Xu Bing, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Jon Cattapan, Catherine Opie, Graciela Iturbide, Kara Walker, Michael Joo, and Carrie Mae Weems all contributed activities to the site, which became available online today to teachers all over the world.

The activities are as diverse as the artists who developed them; some are more like suggestions, others offer detailed instructions.

Beijing-based Xu Bing, for example, offers a briefly described activity called Picture Writing in which he invites students to communicate visually, without words. Kerry James Marshall encourages the study of picture-making and provides a set of instructions to make and use plan and perspective grids. Bradford himself prompts students to map their lunchroom, which relates to his work on social mapping.

"By involving artists in developing educational programming, the Getty is seeking to connect our public with living artists, who will share their unique perspectives and their studio practices," explains Toby Tannenbaum, assistant director for Museum Education.

"Bradford’s focus on K-12 invitation was initially a surprise," said Tannenbaum. "Our invitation to Mark to design the inaugural project in the Getty Artists Program was open-ended. We wanted him to select his own focus, target audience, and other key aspects of the project. We had no idea he had an interest in K-12 arts education, but we’re delighted that’s the direction he took," she said.

For Bradford, it was an opportunity to get serious about arts education in K-12. "We take a lot of things very seriously with young children - math, languages, phonics - but not art. We relegate that to something less than serious, something you do after the real work. Well, art is important. It’s always been important. And I wanted children to develop a work ethic about art, an ability to see things through and focus, just like the work ethic they would need to become a doctor or lawyer."

By working with K-12 teachers, Bradford realized, he could reach children early in their arts education to help them realize that art matters. "These are the first teachers that inform and give shape to artistic ideas for young people," he adds. "Regardless of budget cuts and lack of support for the arts, they have a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of hope. I thought ’I like this. I want to further this.’"

The activities in Open Studio complement the materials that the Getty Museum currently offers on its Website for teachers, all of which are aligned to national and California state standards. Those materials, which are both teacher- and museum-authored, are in-depth and sequential and focus on objects in the Getty’s collection.

The materials in Open Studio, on the other hand, focus largely on contemporary ideas and society. "The addition of these materials creates a dynamic balance in the resources we offer educators, and is exactly what we were looking for when we sought out artists to develop educational programming," said Tannenbaum.

For Bradford, the program was a logical next step after winning the MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the "Genius Grant." "What does someone do with that? How can I extend this?" he said. "Go to education. I was really influenced by a fifth grade teacher at Crescent Heights Elementary. I’ve been in touch with her my whole life. There are kids in class now who are going to make the decision to become artists of some kind. I want them to know that the work they do matters - art is not just the easy A in school. I don’t like what I do to be the easy A. That’s not how I think of it."

Open Studio: A Collection of Artmaking Ideas by Artists is available at



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Julie Jaskol
Getty Communications
(310) 440-7607

Desiree Zenowich
Getty Communications
(310) 440-7304

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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