MOCA Cleveland seeks new visitors with offbeat art classes for adults, social events, exploring phobias - and even dodgeball
Posted November 20, 2013 in Articles
Author: Laura DeMarco
Dodgeball in the museum? Dancing near the installations? Turning your fear of insects into art?
These activities are not only allowed, they're encouraged at the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art.
Since their move to University Circle in the spring of 2012, MOCA has instituted a series of non-traditional programs to lure visitors to the museum by breaking through their fear of contemporary art.
These include the Go With Me "elementary-school inspired mingling" – hence the dodgeball - the Phobic Drawing Class, and One Work/One Hour, in which a group contemplates one piece of art together for yes, one hour.
"In reality, contemporary art is a lot of different things," says Megan Reich, MOCA's director of programs. "You can't box it into categories, but certainly there is an uncertainty with people as to what they're going to see. It can be mysterious."
These new adult outreach programs include The Interpreters, a Third Thursday series that begins this Thursday, Nov. 21. Like the other programs, it seeks to demystify both the museum and the concept of contemporary art.
"It's an opportunity to break down preconceptions and have fun with art, to approach the work in a way that is about a more social experience," says Reich.
The Interpreters program, which runs through February 13, does begin with social time at the bar. But it is one of the more serious educational events on the MOCA calendar. Unlike say, Go With Me, which is all about fun in a cool setting, the goal of The Interpreters is to interpret works of art through non-traditional means, such as poetry, word games and dance.
It was the idea of Curator of Education Nicole Ledinek, who was inspired by similar programs at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Chicago Institute of Art. It was also inspired by an event last year in which modern dancers did a workshop on interpreting art an architecture through dance.
Reich and Ledenik participated and were "flabbergasted by how difficult it was for us because it was not the language we usually use, but how easy it was for the dancers, " says Reich.
That led them to The Interpreters, says Reich, "a pilot program where we could invite adults to explore a work of art in gallery in a different way and get excited about learning while getting to know contemporary art in a way that was fun."
The first week of the program will be led by Ledinek and use creative word games and language to explore MOCA's current exhibition, "Simon Evans: Only Words Eaten By Experience." Londoner Evans does text-based drawings and found-paper tapestries that deal with the anxiety of modern life. His works will be on display through February 16.
Topic for later sessions have not yet been decided, but will focus on current exhibitions at the museum.
On the flip side of the lively Interpreters is another new program, One Hour/One Work. Held the second Wednesday of the month at 1 p.m. (the next sessions is December 11), this program asks visitors to "deep dive into a single work on view. " At each session, an educator will select one work an hour of contemplation and consideration.
"It's a quieter way or moving deep into something, of slowing down and letting everything else fall away," says Reich.
She says that MOCA's dynamic new building is the ideal setting for both such quieter explorations, done at down times, and the energetic explorations of their nighttime events.
"Even before we moved, we knew we were going to have a new audience, people who had not been familiar with us or contemporary art," she says. "This building gives us platforms to do things we could not do in our old building. We want to give people programs that are unique and help them have new insights into the museum, and show them that art can be meaningful in their life."