One of my favorite meetings so far in our preparation during this experience was when Cheryl and Anabelle were here. They were so funny. I really liked Anabelle because she was just so open-minded and shared everything she knew about Italy and Puerto Rico. She told us a story about growing up in Puerto Rico and her path of education. She also speaks Italian fluently and I admire her a lot. She taught me one thing, “not majoring in art doesn’t mean that you do not associate with art things.”
I also enjoyed the session where everyone was talking about things they are afraid of. It was then I knew that almost everyone (in our group, anyway) is afraid of heights. I’m learning a lot about my team-mates.
Lastly, I liked when we first saw the profile pictures of the Puerto-Rican students. So now I kind of know their faces in my mind and I know a little bit about who I’m going to meet.
Each of our meetings at the museum have been a mix of interesting, educational, and fun, but the one that stands out the most so far was our meeting with Felipe Vargas. The themes that we’ve spent the bulk of our time exploring, international diplomacy and national identity, took on a new light to me after hearing what he had to tell us.
Felipe’s understanding of history and critical thinking showed me new ways to connect my thoughts. Connections, relationships, tradition, innovation, culture, information, knowledge- they all work together, as far as you’re willing to think through things, to dig through your consciousness and not avoid what you find.
We live in the information age, which means it’s not enough to merely know facts. Now that the internet acts as a sort of world-brain of shared facts and ideas accessible by anyone with a computer, the most important skill to have is being able to make that information useful to you. Interpretation, extrapolation, and integration of what your senses tell you, of what media communicates, is the real challenge of life, and the discussion Felipe had with us made me aware of that in ways I never had been before.
During the beginning of my training at the IMA, I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman named Travis Dinicola. He is the host for a radio talk show, “The Art of the Matter”. He talks to artists from all walks of life and lets the rest of us in on it. When he visited with our group, he gave us some very quick and easy tips for what makes an interview good or bad. A couple examples are: always listen and try not to interrupt too much, avoid simple questions that can be answered with yes or no, and create questions based upon the interviewee’s answers to previous questions. Also, the thing that I was most drawn to was that sound has an influence in helping to tell stories. Sound paints pictures in the listener’s head and is sometimes better than actually seeing something. So I was greatly appreciative of Travis’ advice on interviewing and I hope everyone else in our group was helped as well.
The upcoming trip students are making to Italy is going to give me a chance to exercise my imagination BIG time! In some ways serving as the “Indy Connection” in partnership with Alberto is the best way for an artist/educator to experience the Biennale because the young people visiting Rome and Venice will view the places and spaces from a very different perspective than I might. That’s what learning is all about, right? I am most excited about the unlimited opportunities for students to visually explore the amazing history associated with this ancient land.
I can’t wait to see pics and videos and hear student voices as they make new discoveries during their journey. Unfortunately, I won’t get to taste or smell the amazing Italian food in Rome or Venice – but, hope to get at least one really good description of their favorite food or meal on the trip. And………I plan to go to some local Italian ristorante to live vicariously through the Ponce and Indy team. (As my profile says, Italian food is one of my favorites). I hope readers will join me in igniting their imaginations, revving up those taste buds, polishing the eye glasses (if you wear them) and getting ready for a true international adventure in Rome, Venice and of course the Biennale - IMA (Hoosier), Ponce (Puerto Rican)and Italian (Venetian) style!
Ciao for now!
This blog has been created for the Teen Global Exchange, a program that brings together students from Indianapolis, U.S.A.; Ponce, Puerto Rico; and Venice, Italy on a trip to the 2011 Venice Biennale. The students will explore themes of art, culture, national identity, diplomacy and a host of other topics – both in their meetings in preparation for their trip and when they finally join together in Venice. This blog will serve as a forum for these discussions – a place for the students to explore their ideas, communicate with their international peers, and prepare for the exciting experience ahead. In conclusion, you’ll want to check back often for frequent updates and inspiring conversations.