Art Writing | MFA Program

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The MFA program in Art Writing is one of the only graduate writing programs in the world that focuses specifically on criticism. This program is not involved in “discourse production” or the prevarications of curatorial rhetoric, but rather in the practice of criticism writ large, aspiring to literature.

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INTERVIEW: Kaitlyn A. Kramer (Class of 2015) with Katherine Cohn and Jessica Holmes (Class of 2013)

Production photo from the recording of podcast "Lines in Real Time" episode 2 on 11 March 2016 at Argot Studios, New York. Pictured: Leah Hartman conducting a phone interview with David Levi-Strauss. Photo: Sarah Diver.

The world is shifting, becoming more technologically advanced, more communicative, more violent each day. Artists are continually responding to these changes, illuminating current events by creating works of art through new and often controversial means, yet the pedagogical models in the cultural institutions that teach these works tend to fall behind. “Lines in Real Time,” the series of educational programming for the exhibition Lines of Flight at the Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, takes the form of a podcast that addresses this need for alternative educational practices, and is an alternative model itself. We asked Katherine Cohn, one of the co-producers of “Lines in Real Time,” and Jessica Holmes, who wrote and hosted episode 5, to speak with us about the podcast as an educational tool, how young audiences can better engage with art through critical thinking, and how their own thoughts on arts education have changed from this experience.

—The Editors

Kaitlyn A. Kramer: Katherine, can you speak more about your decision to produce a podcast in conjunction with the exhibition Lines of Flight? Where did the idea for this model originate, and how does the podcast form stand out as an alternative to traditional pedagogical models?

Katherine Cohn: The “Lines in Real Time” podcast is a way to get to know pedagogical models, and to explore alternatives that might exist. Students in schools and in other unique spaces for learning don’t always go into their education knowing much about the teaching models to which they’ll be subject. In the M.A. programs in Art History at Columbia University where I’m currently enrolled, emphasis is put on contributing to scholarship rather than teaching. My program titled Modern Critical and Curatorial Studies is more interdisciplinary and encourages curatorial work and art criticism, but I have not encountered many approaches to teaching here. However, students of the program regularly go on to work in a range of venues which are commonly thought of as alternative spaces for learning. I envisioned a project that would allow my classmates and I to become more comfortable working with pedagogical models while also learning to question them, so that we might later apply our experiences in our real world efforts. This podcast programming invited fellow students, both of the M.A. program and in the world at large, to join me in exploring how we experience our education both inside and outside classrooms, how we as educators would like to be taught, and how we might teach others. We should question both the information that we are receiving and the people organizing it, and we should investigate how the scholarship we are producing contributes to the education of others. Critical thinking is at the core of meaningful scholarship and teaching. This podcast seeks to understand ways that spaces for learning have taught material in the past, and to think about how those pedagogical templates foster critical thinking.

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