By Vanessa Friedman

No Name, No Rules, Just Art

  |  Local News - Manhattan  

This fall, for the first time in the history of In The Making, the Museum of Modern Art's popular and competitive free art program for teens, the museum offered a class with no rules and no agenda, fittingly calling it "A Class With No Name."

The Museum of Modern Art's In The Making Offered A Class With No Name

This fall, for the first time in the history of In The Making, the Museum of Modern Art's popular and competitive free art program for teens, the museum offered a class with no rules and no agenda, fittingly calling it "A Class With No Name." Calder Zwicky, associate educator for teens and community programs at MoMA, says the idea for the class came from students themselves. As Zwicky engaged with teens through MoMA's Facebook page, one student offered a radical suggestion: "How about a class with no rules?"

"I was intrigued by the idea," Zwicky says. "It seemed to make sense, as teens are always so interested in having more and more control over their own lives." Lead educator Mark Joshua Epstein and apprentice educator Chris Domenick led the class, but the teens took the reigns.

Focusing on process and community rather than a finished product, Epstein steered the class toward collaborative work, fostering a safe space where the students could create together by talking, listening, and voting. The teachers shared the class budget during the first class, and decisions about what materials to buy and how to spend the money were made entirely by the students. "We made everything transparent," Zwicky says.

Though the class is extremely popular, Zwicky admits it was one of the hardest classes MoMA offered this season, "because it could have crashed and burned so easily." While there are no concrete plans to offer this class again in the future, Zwicky is not opposed to the idea. Right now he's looking for feedback from the teens, as he always aims to make the programs as teen-centered as possible.

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